The second day of Senate hearings regarding a "Don't Ask Don't Tell" repeal went better for shameless filibuster-leader John McCain. But that's only because he fully embarrassed himself yesterday. But are the individual service chiefs really against repeal?
The chiefs of the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard fielded questions at today's hearing, following yesterday's, where their boss, Joint Chiefs chair Adm. Mike Mullen, and his boss, Defense Secretary Bob Gates, enthusiastically supported — one might say demanded! — repealing the 17-year-old ban against openly gay people serving in the military. The service chiefs aren't all quite where Mullen and Gates are. Marine Commandant James Amos, especially, has had the most reservations about repeal, but has always said he'd carry out whatever change in policy was handed him without complaining, as is his job. Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey is open to it, but is also not really really into it, as best we could judge from his heartily obfuscatory responses today. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz, too, voiced some concerns at the meeting about the prospects of immediate repeal. Lord knows what would happen if you got stuck in "cockpit" with an openly gay co-pilot tens of thousands of feet in the air, amirite? (Sorry, that was the worst thing I've ever written.)
The Navy dude didn't give a shit because sailors have all been gay for centuries. And the Coast Guard guy... whatever. No offense to the Coast Guard! But... yeah.
All of this has been interpreted in many major media outlets with the same take as this Los Angeles Times headline, to pick one: "3 military chiefs oppose 'don't ask, don't tell' repeal."
It's true that these service chiefs probably wouldn't want to deal with it if they could choose. But, as the Washington Post's Greg Sargent points out, their concerns were all about implementation once the repeal was passed — how much time, and under what combat circumstances, they'd have to eliminate the ban within their ranks. This response from Gen. Casey best encapsulates their stances:
"I believe that the law should be repealed eventually. It seemed to me that the report calls into question the basic presumption that underlies the law. And that is that the presence of a gay and lesbian service member creates unacceptable risk. I don't believe that's true. And from the surveys it appears that a large number of our service members don't believe that's true either. So eventually it should be repealed. The question for me is one of timing."
They say they're worried about introducing this in the "middle" of a war, too. But what war are we in the "middle" of? By that math, the war in Afghanistan would end in 2019. That's way too... early! We all know that the war in Afghanistan will never end. So if you re-jigger the math, they'd really be implementing this repeal at the very, very beginning of our infinite war, and that's hardly uncontroversial.
I'm partially being a wiseass as usual, sure, but if the three individual service chiefs just have reservations about the timing of implementation, then that's very reasonable and workable! Pass the repeal with language giving each chief 18 months (if they need it) to fully implement — with sensitivity training seminars or whatever — and Gates can inspect and sign off on each one. Problem solved. McCain neutralized. Chiefs sated. Gays armed. McCain vaporized. America good. Kind of. Done, done, done.
[Image via AP]