A proposed repeal of "Don't Ask Don't Tell" enjoys the support of a national majority. The Pentagon has thoroughly studied and endorsed it. It wouldn't bother soldiers. DADT has been ruled unconstitutional, anyway. But John McCain needs more.
McCain first led the Republican filibuster against the annual defense authorization bill — which included language for repeal — in September. (And no, if Harry Reid had taken out the DREAM Act from the bill, McCain still would've led a filibuster. Because that's exactly what he's doing now that the DREAM Act has been stripped out.) Since then, the Pentagon has completed, released, and powerfully defended its 267-page report on the effects of implementation on soldiers' morale, troop cohesion, readiness, et cetera, and found that the effects would be trivial. Defense secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen have stressed the need to include this repeal, rather than let the courts determine its future. Democrats appear ready to allow an open amendment process on the defense authorization bill when they bring it up again, just as Republicans asked for. And most importantly, "Don't Ask Don't Tell" is a dumb, bizarre policy compromise hammered out 17 years ago, when the most of the country still thought of gays as surly witches wanting to kidnap everyone's first-borns for a permanent vacation to their gay lofts in the ninth circle of Hell. Now gays are mostly known as "those delightful people in all the sitcoms."
John McCain asked for more hearings after the report came out, and he got those. They're starting today. He probably doesn't want them to start so soon though, or ever, because the whole point of his rude, agonizingly transparent opposition is to run out the clock until the new Congress takes over and buries this uncontroversial repeal for another few years. The problem, see, is that it could excite many of the despondent voters who helped put Barack Obama in power a few years ago. These people need to remain sad! And keeping them sad forever is the only thing that gets John McCain out of bed every morning.
John McCain wants some hearings on the Pentagon report's findings, sure, but it's not clear why, since he thinks the report is trash. Not until the very end of this six-month study, which he wanted, did he start mentioning that he had problems with the fundamental concept of the report: This report only looks at the effects of implementation on the troops, not whether the policy should be repealed. That's his line nowadays, or one of them. He's incapable of figuring out that if the report determines, conclusively, that the effects of implementation would be trivial, then that pretty much answers the question of whether the policy should be repealed. Unless you (a) hate gay people or are (b) blocking popular legislative items for the sole reason that if they passed, many Americans might hate their current president a little less.
John McCain claims that there are other military leaders, though — beyond the highest-ranking civilian leader and uniformed officer in the Defense Department — who keep gossiping to him about how they don't really want this. McCain, you see, arbitrarily determined in the last week or so that Robert Gates, who was in the Air Force, was never really in the military, and doesn't know anything about it. And Adm. Mike Mullen is now, in McCain's mind, not really in charge of the troops. This is another thing that John McCain has been saying.
So what is John McCain's latest excuse to keep blocking this thing forever? Well, before today's hearing, the senior senator from Arizona must have gotten certified as a professional statistician, because he has qualms!
In addition to my concerns about what questions were not asked by this survey and considered in this report, I am troubled by the fact that this report only represents the input of 28 percent of the force who received the questionnaire. That is only 6 percent of the force at large. I find it hard to view that as a fully representative sample set, but I am nonetheless weighing the contents of this report on their merits.
This has been a career-making performance for John McCain. He should run for president!
He's just being snide and insulting people. That's all he's got left: Calling top-ranking officials — the same ones in whom he giddily entrusted soldiers' lives when they launched dangerous troop surges in Iraq and Afghanistan — inexperienced phony fake-soldier hacks who know nothing about the military. It's rude and childish. And the insulted parties really don't appreciate this:
In his opening statement, Mullen seemed to issue a direct challenge to McCain.
"For more than 40 years, I have made decisions that affected and even risked the lives of young men and women," Mullen said. "You do not have to agree with me on this issue. But don't think for one moment that I haven't carefully considered the impact of the advice I give on those who will have to live with the decisions that advice informs."
So that's what's up with John McCain these days. Supposedly he's a nice guy in conversation, though.
[Image via AP]