Gay Navy Secretary?

A gay museum executive is being touted as the next Secretary of the Navy, Washington Times reports.

Top military personnel and some Democrats are touting William White, chief operating officer of the Intrepid Museum Foundation, to be the next secretary of the Navy. GETTY IMAGES

Top military personnel and some Democrats are touting William White, chief operating officer of the Intrepid Museum Foundation, to be the next secretary of the Navy. GETTY IMAGES

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.

via memeorandum

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.

FILED UNDER: Gender Issues, Military Affairs, US Politics, , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Triumph says:

    Navy Secretary seems pretty appropriate since the Navy is clearly the gayest of all the military branches. There IS a reason the Village People memorialized naval homoeroticism in song.

    This gives me one more reason to say: Go Army! Beat Navy!

  2. Bithead says:

    White works well in the “Intrepid” position because while it serves his Naval pretensions, it also doesn’t give him responsbility for any real combat situations. Kinda hard to screw that up too badly. How I think he’ll do as SecNav should be obvious; Badly. It’s way over the man’s head, IMO.

    That Obama makes this apointment just now tells me he’s trying to soothe the homosexual rights people who are curently looking for Obama’s neck and a rope over the Rick Warren thing.

    It also tells me he’s willing to go with such political considerations over practical military ones. But that’s OK, we’ll never have to use our military now that the lightworker is here.

  3. Moonage says:

    This would end nothing regarding the anti-gay preacher. Surely you know by now that it’s all or nothing with the left.

  4. Davebo says:

    Bithead,

    Are you saying the SecNav position should have previous experience managing real combat situations?
    Ronald Reagan didn’t think so.

    Apparantly Dubya didn’t either.

  5. Bithead says:

    Moonage;

    Likely true, but then again, I didn’t say the attmpt would be a success….

  6. I’m glad to see from the photo that he’s still active promoting safe sex within the gay community…there he is posing with the world’s biggest condom.

    So will he have to quit his gig with The Village People?

  7. just me says:

    I know nothing about him. If he is qualified then I don’t see anything wrong with the appointment. However if he is a pick chosen for political reasons (to appease a specific group or to be checkmark in the diverse box) then I am not too sure. I want people-especially those leading our military services to be capable of actually leading them.

  8. just me says:

    I know nothing about him. If he is qualified then I don’t see anything wrong with the appointment. However if he is a pick chosen for political reasons (to appease a specific group or to be checkmark in the diverse box) then I am not too sure. I want people-especially those leading our military services to be capable of actually leading them.

  9. caj says:

    Who cares if this guy is gay,that shouldn’t matter a bit as long as he can do the job he may be asked to do.
    I have no time for any discrimination toward anyone for any job at all as long as the person is qualified and can do the job justice.

  10. Triumph says:

    Who cares if this guy is gay,that shouldn’t matter a bit as long as he can do the job he may be asked to do.

    Listen, one of the reasons that the Navy is the gayest branch of the military is because the quarters are so tight when you are in combat missions.

    You are literally sleeping right on top of your other midshipmen. If you had a bunch of gays in the Navy, it would turn Das Boot into a sex fest. Since other militaries keep their gays out, we would be in serious trouble when a Russian frigate came around–our gay midshipmen would be too busy in the bowels of the ship (if you catch my drift) to defend us from evil.

    The only way we could let gays into the Navy would be to put them on the same ships as broads. But since dames have neither the strength nor the smarts to fight, that would be an even bigger disaster.

  11. Anderson says:

    Nine comments, and no “rum, sodomy, and the lash” joke?

    This blog needs me — needs me, I tell you.

  12. caj says:

    But since dames have neither the strength nor the smarts to fight, that would be an even bigger disaster.

    Posted by Triumph | December 18, 2008 | 04:22 pm

    Rather a sexist remark here, obviously you think the male species are so dominant and the only ones who can really hold a place in the Military.
    It’s a shame you are one of these ignorant types who make decent men look bad!!!!

  13. charles johnson says:

    you guys haven’t detected that Triumph is just having ya’ll on? He’s giving you obvious clues, like

    Since other militaries keep their gays out,”

    It’s an obvious clue because everybody knows several other countries allow gays to serve openly. We’re in danger from a Russian frigate? He’s making it pretty easy for you, but some of you still think he’s serious.

    Anyway, to the point. When I was at DINFOS in the early/mid-1990’s at Ft. Benjamin Harrison I knew dozens of Seamen and I’d guess about half of them were gay. Me and my friend Mike, who was in the 82nd, were like, “Damn, the stereotype really is true.” Everybody knows there are plenty of gays in the military, serving honorably, and trying to lay low so they aren’t drummed out by a stupid old bigoted policy. Making this guy secretary of the navy would allow a transition to a de facto repeal of the ban on gays, as a half-step toward a de jure repeal, which could come a few years from now. And kudos to Shelton for paying attention to the guy’s character and accomplishments, instead of his irrelevant romantic orientation.

  14. Richard Gardner says:

    I think that at least one of the Secretaries should be outside the Pol-Mil world. Likewise at least one non-lawyer.

    Looking at White, he doesn’t have the taint of DC — and the non-profits have direct involvement of the original families (pre-Madoff — no idea if this is an issue) so he hasn’t been a nonprofit leech.

    This man will have lots of SES to advise his decisions.

    I’ll say this as a Navy vet, get over it. I went through the USS McKee (AS-41) Lesbian witch hunts. Thank you 60 Minutes (Sarcasm)..

  15. DL says:

    It will surely give new meaning to the navy terms – “tailhook” and “catapault.”

  16. Bithead says:

    This blog needs me — needs me, I tell you.

    Why? You can make the joke better?

    Interesting, though, in reading the comments here, incluing the post itself. Most of them have centered around his homosexuality. So, too, if I read the signs aright, was the appointment, centered on that one factor.

    Has anyone here actually looked at the guy’s history?

  17. Bithead says:

    Are you saying the SecNav position should have previous experience managing real combat situations?

    Missed this before, sorry.
    No, that’s not what I’m saying at all.
    You should be able to intuit the rest.

  18. anjin-san says:

    No, that’s not what I’m saying at all.
    You should be able to intuit the rest.

    You have not presented any valid reasons to think the man is in “over his head”.

    Intuit says you want to do a little gay bashing, but don’t have the guts to come right out and do it…

  19. Bithead says:

    If you look really close, Anjin, you’ll notice I suggested a peek at his record would be helpful.
    Clearly, you have not.
    I’m not doing your work for you.
    Go. Do your reserach. Maybe you’ll learn something, though I doubt you have that capacity.

  20. anjin-san says:

    Bit.

    Either present a coherent argument to support your statement, or go back to the far end of the bench where you belong.

    No one is really interested in chasing your windmills. You record for being not just wrong, but big time wrong over and over again makes it pretty clear that most of what you say is a waste of time.

    “I’m not doing your research for you”. That line was lame when chat rooms on AOL were cutting edge.

  21. Triumph says:

    I suggested a peek at his record would be helpful.

    hah! Take a peek–Larry Craig-style!

  22. Bithead says:

    Either present a coherent argument to support your statement, or go back to the far end of the bench where you belong.

    Nope.
    I laid out the terms. Follow them. Or are you unwilling to dig into the matter, because of what you might find?

    And your charge of masking a gay-bash is laughable when every other comment, and apparently Obama’s appointment as well, centers around homosexuality, and mine centered on the record of the indiviual.

    Here’s a clue, Anjin, since you seem to be begging for one. Don’t go looking into military records. Look rather at Resturants, Real estate, and fundrasing.

    In any event,given the timing of the Warren thing, it’s logical to ask, as I already have, if White wasn’t chosen by Obama because of his political worth, not for his ability to lead. You tell ME, Anjin, what would you say if Bush were to appoint, say, Rick Warren, as SecNav? You’d likely complain the appointment was made for political and idological reasons… not his ability for the position… and you’d be right to do so.

    You tell me, Anjin, why doesn’t that complant apply here?

  23. anjin-san says:

    I laid out the terms. Follow them.

    zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  24. tom p says:

    and mine centered on the record of the indiviual.

    Sorry Bit, nowhere in any of your posts have you referred to any particular aspect of his record. Instead you engage in pure inuendo, such as:

    Here’s a clue, Anjin, since you seem to be begging for one. Don’t go looking into military records. Look rather at Resturants, Real estate, and fundrasing.

    Here’s a clue Bit, YOU tell US, what you have found. Otherwise you are just blowing it out your ass (I can hear it now: “Well, if you could not find what I am talking about, you are an idiot!”)

    And no,

    I laid out the terms.

    you do not get to set the terms.

    The terms are these Bit (and everybody else here who is serious at least tries to follow them): If you make a statement of fact, back it up with a source. No source? You have nothing but an opinion (or an insult, or pure slander), which by now everybody knows, stinks to high heaven.

  25. Bithead says:

    you do not get to set the terms.

    Yes, I do.
    I already did.
    Get used to it.

  26. Bithead says:

    Missed this;

    Here’s a clue Bit, YOU tell US, what you have found. Otherwise you are just blowing it out your ass (I can hear it now: “Well, if you could not find what I am talking about, you are an idiot!”)

    No; You simply decided not to look; you decided not to meet the terms in spite of the (factual) breadcrumbs I left on the path. (Shrug) Not my problem. Does tell me something about you, though.

    As to what I found? You’ve both shown me a little of your little minds, as I expected you would. Why does every bit of research have to focus on, or reveal some major misdeed? I neither said nor implied that was the case here. But boy, did you both leap to that conclusion in a hellfire hurry…. Good show.

    See, there’s the thing; You need to actually read what people WRITE, as opposed to putting your own meanings in.

    If we’re talking about a fundraiser, he’d do fine. As you’d see if you’d bother looking it up. But you’d also see no particular in his record that gives him an edge for the job either, save that it serves an Obama political need for a homosexual to be in a cabinet level post.

    But we’re not talking about someone playing the role of Caroline Kennedy…(And there’s another appointment that raises similar questions, for similar reasons) we’re talking about SecNav, for which there seems no particular reason to name the guy, other than his sexuality, and that to satisfy a political need in an area that has naught to do with our military at all. At which point the questions I tossed Anjin (What would he have to say was Bush to appoint Rick Warren SecNav) becomes the focal point.

    The choice was made without considerations on his qualifications for the job. The primary goal was calming the Homosexuals after they got their noses out of joint about the Warren thing. That kind of appointment seldom works out to the betterment of the position being filled. Given the world situation, the role deserves someone better qualified.

    And guess what, guys… if McCain had made such an appointment you’d be screaming about it, just now.

  27. anjin-san says:

    Does tell me something about you, though.

    Tells us all something. He’s too smart to burn much daylight on Simple Simon.

  28. anjin-san says:

    It is instructive to see just how desperate the right is to somehow hurt Obama.

    It is going to be fun to watch him run rings around these guys for the next eight years 🙂

  29. Bithead says:

    I’m not trying to hurt the man, I’m simply pointing out where he does it to himself.

    I see it is far more instructive about desperate you are to defend Obama at all costs… getting yourself all twisted out of shape in the process.

    All we need to complete the act is a unicycle.

  30. anjin-san says:

    I’m not trying to hurt the man, I’m simply pointing out where he does it to himself.

    Yes, well, you are the rocket scientist who told us McCain was winning the day before the election 🙂

    Yes, I do.
    I already did.
    Get used to it.

    Hmmm. You are withing shouting distance here of an actual pathology here Skippy.

    I see it is far more instructive about desperate you are to defend Obama at all costs

    Actually, I have not said a word in his defense, as he does not need one. Not in general, and certainly not from the likes of you.

  31. Bithead says:

    Yes, well, you are the rocket scientist who told us McCain was winning the day before the election 🙂

    What is this aversion you have to the truth?

    Hmmm. You are withing shouting distance here of an actual pathology here Skippy

    No. I’m RESPONDING to it.

    Actually, I have not said a word in his defense, as he does not need one.

    Actually, you raise a defense every time you open an editor. A position I see you being in for four years.

  32. anjin-san says:

    Actually, you raise a defense every time you open an editor.

    That you don’t know the difference between a text editor and a CMT should come as a surprise to no one. The internets are darn complicated!