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PhotobucketTranscript from White House Gaggle by Press Secretary Jay Carney aboard Air Force One en route San Diego, California

Q: Jay, can you talk about the President -- when did the President decide last night to engage Rick Perry and to talk about the debates, which he had said a couple weeks ago that he wasn’t paying any attention to?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, the President didn’t watch debates, but there have obviously been a number of reports about them, and sections of them are replayed -- if you walk by a television that happens to be tuned to a cable channel, it's hard to escape.

I think the President was particularly struck by the reports of the question asked by a soldier, a U.S. soldier stationed in Iraq, about "don't ask, don't tell" and the fact that when he was booed by audience members, not a single of the candidates for president -- people who believe they have what it takes to be the commander-in-chief -- said a thing about that, when he is there defending our country, putting his life on the line for our country.

I think the President was also struck by the -- in an earlier debate, reports that when a hypothetical question was asked about someone who didn't have health insurance was going to die and there were cheers at that prospect, no candidates had anything to say about that.

So he thinks it's a matter of values.  He thinks it’s a matter or who we are as Americans.  So, yes, I think he felt that it was worth talking about.


Heh.

"People who believe they have what it takes to be the commander-in-chief..."

I also appreciated that Jay didn't use the adjective "gay" soldier. Not that there's anything shameful about mentioning Stephen Hill is gay.

But the reality, it's not an important distinction, post-DADT repeal.

There are no gay soldiers or straight soldiers.

There are only soldiers. They all wear the same uniform.

It doesn't matter why they booed him.

What matters is that they did boo him. Greg Sargent got it, he wrote: Listeners didn’t just boo a `gay’ soldier. They booed a soldier. But many people don't get it.

Whether Republicans like it or not, they have to thank the gay soldiers for their service now, just the same as the straight ones. Because the law of the land is now that they are not of a lesser value. They are not some dirty secret that we can pretend don't exist. First, the GOP is gonna have to walk back the progress made before they start disrespecting LGB troops again. They want to pretend September 20, 2011 didn't happen, but it did.

I'm glad to see this the administration engaging the GOP's bigotry and not letting this opportunity pass. Good on Carney for calling out the candidates for not condemning the boos. Good on the admin for seizing the opportunity to fan the flames of this story (no pun intended). It's definately a wound worth salting, in my opinion. Lord knows we'd never hear the end of it if it happened at a Democratic debate. More of this please.

And on the candidates' shameful silence, still no word from Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, Herman Cain, and Ron Paul if they think it is ever appropriate to boo troops? AmericaBlog has a petition demanding they renounce it here. It is initiated by Army Captains Tanya L. Domi, James E. Pietrangelo, II, Brenda S. "Sue" Fulton, Jonathan Hopkins, former Marine Sergeant Justin Elzie, and former West Point cadet Katherine Miller.

Update 1:: For what it's worth, Gary Johnson could hear the boos from the stage  he told ABC News:

“That’s not the Republican Party that I belong to,” said Johnson. “I’m embarrassed by someone who serves in the military and can’t express their sexuality. I am representing the Republican Party that is tolerant. And to me that shows an intolerance that I’m not a part of in any way whatsoever. ”

Johnson added that he could hear the boos from the stage and believes that the other candidates – despite Santorum’s denial – could as well.

Update 2: Oh my, look at this. DNC has clipped the "greatest hits" of the GOP into an ad:

Well, good for them. I'm all for branding the GOP for who they are.

Update 3: The Daily Show returns and leads with the crazy of Thursday's debate. Leading with Stephen Hill's treatment and moving on to highlight all three hits. It's a great segment. Stewart breaks it to the GOP: "It's not the candidates, it's you."

Ron Paul is the guest and disappointingly, and rather bizarrely, Stewart doesn't even ask him about the cheers for letting the uninsured die. He doesn't even bring up any of the other nonsense Paul is witnessing, nonsense the show just moments before mocked mercilessly. WTF?! BruinKid says he'll have a diary and transcript up 8 am EST Tuesday.

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