Gay Navy Secretary?
A gay museum executive is being touted as the next Secretary of the Navy, Washington Times reports.
Some top retired military leaders and some Democrats in Congress are backing William White, chief operating officer of the Intrepid Museum Foundation, to be the next secretary of the Navy – a move that would put the first openly gay person at the top of one of the services. The secretary’s job is a civilian position, so it would not run afoul of the ban on gays serving in the military, but it would renew focus on the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy as President-elect Barack Obama prepares to take office.
“He would be phenomenal,” said retired Gen. Hugh Shelton, who was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1997 to 2001, pointing to Mr. White’s extensive background as a fundraiser for veterans’ and military causes. Retired members of the Joint Chiefs have contacted Mr. Obama’s transition team to urge them to pick Mr. White, and members of Congress said he would be a good choice for a service secretary.
“He’s very capable,” said Rep. Jerrold Nadler, New York Democrat, whose district includes the Intrepid Museum, a retired aircraft carrier berthed on the Hudson River in New York City. Mr. Nadler said Mr. White has become a friend of the military, and particularly the service members and their families, both through the Intrepid and through Fisher Houses, which offer a place to stay so families can be close to military members who are receiving medical care.
Even aside from the oddity of having a gay man in charge of enforcing a policy precluding gays from openly serving in the military, White’s background seems odd for running a gigantic military bureaucracy. Then again, if Hugh Shelton supports him, I must be missing something.
It would, presumably, quickly end complaints about having an anti-gay preacher giving the invocation at the inaguration.
Update (Richard Gardner): There are other likely candidates for Secretary of the Navy (also in charge of the Marine Corps) according to Navy Times
Congressman Joe Sestak (D-PA) (Retired Rear Admiral, NOT Vice Admiral according to law; he rose to Vice Admiral, but was lowered to Rear Admiral due to insufficient time in-rate). His appointment would be a slap in the face of the current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) who fired him in a Navy dustup over his abusive management style (OK, actual reason not released so this is conjecture on my part). The man was FIRED by the current CJCS, appointing him SECNAV sends what message?
A simple Google will show he discards Congressional staff at a similar rate. I suspect all the talk of him being SECNAV are a trial bubble from his supporters. If he is nominated Dr James Joyner will have to dust off his dissertation on the Revolt of the Admirals as he will be in great demand on all the talk circuits. [I know people that have worked directly for now-Congressman Sestak when he was in the Navy, and was glad I never worked for him; people fought against being assigned to his programs in the Pentagon.] WILL NOT HAPPEN.
Senator Jim Webb (D-VA). Heh, been there, done that. He’d be great, but I think he won’t do it.
Naval Analyst Bob Work (Col, USMC, Ret, at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments). He is on the Obama transition team. If not SECNAV, at least the Deputy. He would make an excellent pairing with Juan Garcia.
Not mentioned in the above article is who I think will be in one of the 2 top positions: Former Texas State Representative and Navy Reserve Officer Juan Garcia, who attended Harvard Law School with President-elect Obama and chaired his Texas campaign. Googling this name I was disgusted by the campaign against him in his TX election as a mere P-3 pilot, not a fighter pilot.
Most of the officers in the Navy would be prefer an openly gay SECNAV over Congressman Sestak (at least those that know of Sestak). Looking over White’s resume I think he is an excellent choice, on par with the Clinton Administration’s SecAF Sheila Widnall who did an excellent job, despite having to oversee the Kelly Flynn scandal.
I’ll put more conjecture in the comments.