John McCain and DADT
Despite the Defense Department releasing its study showing that the effects of allowing gays to serve openly would be minimal, Senator John McCain isn't convinced.
Despite the Defense Department releasing its study showing that the effects of allowing gays to serve openly would be minimal, Senator John McCain isn’t convinced.
In 2006, he said on MSNBC that “the day that the leadership of the military comes to me and says, ‘Senator, we ought to change the policy,’ then I think we ought to consider seriously changing it.” Now that Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, supports the Pentagon’s move toward junking DADT—and even McCain’s wife, Cindy, has appeared in a gay rights group’s video opposing the policy—the senator is blocking Obama’s plan.
“I understand that’s his commitment to the gay and lesbian community,” McCain says. But while a Pentagon study released Tuesday found more than two-thirds support for the change among service members and said disruptions would be minimal, McCain wants a broader study that would focus on combat readiness.
His explanation: “The Marine commandant is opposed to [dropping] Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. I know for a fact the other three service chiefs have serious reservations.”
As for their superiors, McCain casually mentions the commander in chief and defense secretary, “neither of which I view as a military leader.”
The message: John McCain may have lost his chance to command the U.S. military, but he’s still practiced in the art of trench warfare.
Jonathan Chait retorts, “Uh, isn’t the message that John McCain does not respect civilian control of the military?”
Uh, no. For one thing, the Senate’s role in legislating military policy is very much part of civilian control. And one can simultaneously respect the fact that the president and SECDEF are atop the military hierarchy and still value the inputs of professional military men. While the chairman of the joint chiefs — who supports changing the policy — is the statutory military advisor to the president, McCain is certainly entitled to consider the opinions of the Marine commandant, other service chiefs, and commanders in the field. Or his own gut, the attitudes of his constituents, and all manner of other things.
Maybe McCain is just playing politics here. Maybe he honestly objects to changing the policy. Either way, that’s his prerogative as a United States Senator.
It just so happens that McCain and the Commandant are wrong. They’re old men whose views on the issue reflect another time and barracks culture. As a middle aged man who was very much a part of that culture, I sympathize. But every bit of evidence we have now points to the fact that today’s soldiers don’t care if the guy next to them is gay.
The old arguments against gays being allowed to serve were: 1) they could be blackmailed with being outed and thus posed a security threat and 2) it would undermine unit morale and cohesion. The first would be obviated by allowing them to serve openly, especially since the stigma associated with homosexuality is fast evaporating. And the second has been obviated by the passage of time and busting of myths about the “homosexual lifestyle.” The Pentagon’s study demonstrates that.
McCain made up his mind to oppose DADT long time ago. He’s just trying to play out the game clock. First he said a study should be done to understand the impact of repealing DADT, and that he’d stand by the recommendation of the military chiefs. Now that the report is out and he doesn’t like the findings, he’s moved the goal post again. So much for respecting the advice of the military chiefs.
I think your defence of Senator McCain (in terms of his right to go about his business the way he is, rather than his being correct on the merits of the policy) is well made. That said, I think one of the things that Senator McCain’s critics find irritating is the feeling that there has been an element of Bait And Switch with regard to some of the positioning in opposition to the repeal of DADT (and perhaps with regards to gay issues more generally) whereby nominally procedural objections are raised, these objections are apparently dealt with and then the goal posts are promptly shifted. After a while it seems legitimate to wonder whether there really is any procedural outcome that would be sufficient. Would Senator McCain be on board if the Marine Corps senior brass were actively in favour? Maybe he would. But at this point I’m far from certain.
The situation seems doubly frustrating in the case of Senator McCain because in the past he positioned himself as being flexible-trending-liberal in the matter of DADT repeal, but now seems to have dug himself in as one of repeal’s most vigorous opponents. He is entitled to his judgement, of course, but said judgement seems rather mercurial to me.
@DC Loser and @Tony
McCain has no doubt moved the goalposts. Although, in fairness, I’m sure he assumed the report would come out differently. And he does have the Commandant and some other unspecified service chief(s) to fall back on.
It’s hard to accuse him of being mercurial on this when his position hasn’t changed in half a century!
So this isn’t about military effectiveness after all, but just the same old tired politics.
McCain. What a sad case. I used to point him out to my kids as a great man. Had he died a few years ago he’d have gone out a legend. Now he’s just another senile old bigot. He outlived himself.
“It’s hard to accuse him of being mercurial on this when his position hasn’t changed in half a century!”
I was under the impression it had changed and that he had been through a period of being substantially less antagonistic to repeal than this.
Cindy McCain needs to do some real good talkin’ to her man 🙂
This guy has become a joke even by today’s watered down standards. Hey John, don’t you have a fence to build or something?
“So this isn’t about military effectiveness after all, but just the same old tired politics.”
Careful there… You just may be violating the prohibition on stating the obvious on this issue.
I think McCain just enjoys being in the spotlight and DADT is all he’s got.
The Senate Republicans will be eunuchs in the upcoming session of Congress…the Republican House isn’t going to pass anything the Senate Republicans are going to object to.
James that was a well written article. You gave your side of the argument while giving McCain’s side as well.
For those who keep saying McCain is “moving the goal post” because he doesn’t think the SecDef and Chairman of the Joint Chief speaks for all military leaders is asinine. One is a political appointed civilian leader and the other is an advisor. Don’t you think the opinions of the military commanders should be taken into account?
Then to bash McCain because you think his mind was already made up before the study is hypocritical for many of you. Most of your minds were already made up regardless of what the study and commanding generals may or may not say.
Remember the study says that 60% of the combat troops are against the repeal.
Wayne — It is true that my mind was made up before the study. But I am in no way a hypocrite on the subject, because I never claimed I would base my opinion on the study. McCain did.
Oddly, I think James wrote the most damning thing possible about McCain while expressing sympathy with him: “Although, in fairness, I’m sure he assumed the report would come out differently. ” In other words, McCain promised he would heed the word of the military leaders only because he assumed they’d say what he already believed. I don’t know if this makes him a hypocrite, a liar, or simply an old, dishonest fool, but it does destroy any shreds of credibility he might have had left.
Hey, look on the bright side.
He hasn’t totaled out a Navy Jet in decades. The man may well hold the Black Ace record.
John McCain is considered a hero, for being a failure. Let’s not give him more attention than he deserves.
Seriously, totally missing the carrier? Off of Corpus Christi? We’d have been better off if he’d hit the round down.
McCain said he wanted to hear and would “consider” what the study says, the opinions of military leaders and other factors. He never said he would blindly follow whatever the SecDef and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs says. Right now all we have is the conclusion from a couple of people in what the study says. Once again shouldn’t we look a little deeper into what the study actually says?
The liberal tactic of saying someone said something they didn’t, doesn’t cut it.
It is like the old tactic of saying a poll says something that it didn’t. The poll did not say that two-third support the change only that they thought it would have no, mixed or positive effect.
From the link above “More than two-thirds of all troops said they thought a repeal would have a positive, mixed, or no effect on morale”.
So how does “More than two-thirds of all troops said they thought a repeal would have a positive, mixed, or no effect on morale” equate to “the study says that 60% of the combat troops are against the repeal?” Having no effect no morale is in the plus column for repeal.
Can someone please briefly make the case FOR DADT repeal WITHOUT using terms like fairness or discrimination? I was under the impression the military had a specific purpose OTHER THAN to be just another government employment opportunity. How does DADT repeal help the military fulfill IT’S mission. I fully understand how it impacts the lives of soldiers and gays who might like to be soldiers and gay soldiers now in the closet. I get that part. What I want to know is what’s in it for the military generally.
Currently, the military is spending substantial time and resources each year chaptering out hundreds of otherwise qualified soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines for the sole reason that they’ve been outed or outed themselves as homosexual. Ending that practice will 1) save time and money and 2) keep those qualified troopers on the team.
None of that is worth it if having said gays on the team substantially undermines morale, cohesiveness, or effectiveness. But the military’s self-study says that it’s not going to do that.
Thanks J.J. I am going to assume then that inappropriate sexual conduct of whatever type will still raise UCMJ problems, as much for homosexual as well as heterosexual misconduct. If part of a DADT repeal somehow morphs into a “protected” status for gay “lifestyle promulgation or promotion”, then I’d be offended. Otherwise, I’m largely okay with it. Personal sexuality issues, of whatever type, is unavoidable with people of the ages and fitness levels of typical soldiers. But the military has risks at hand whenever ANY sexual issues consume excessive amounts of management time and resources. Allowing it is one thing. Being a party to promotion of it is quite another.
I think that’s a safe assumption.
Wayne do you every think about the irony of the fact that there are gays in the service who are ready to fight and die to defend you freedom to argue that they should be relegated to second class status and be forced to live a lie for the right to defend America? (The Land of the Free)
Remember the study says that 60% of the combat troops are against the repeal.
Wow. Let me guess – you get your info from Fox News? From the NYT “70 percent of surveyed service members believe that the impact on their units would be positive, mixed or of no consequence at all.” How did Fox manage to spin this into “60% are against the repeal”? Or did they just make up their own numbers?
In any case, in the end it doesn’t matter. Americans who want to join the service should be free to do so. In years past there are those who didn’t want to serve with blacks, Catholics, Jews, what have you. Such soldiers are bigots and we should not adjust the military because we don’t want make bigots unhappy. Ditto for those who don’t want to serve alongside gays.
There is no conflict between the statements “2/3 of troops feel DADT repeal will have positive to no effect on morale…” And “60% of combat troops are against the repeal of DADT…”
Think about it guys: How many of our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines are actual combat troops?
With these guys, ideology trumps everything, just as it as with the Soviets.
Tom P, you have a point, if that number is correct. But where do you get the 60% of combat troops number? The closest I’ve seen is 40-60% of Marines, which are, of course, a relatively small portion of all soldiers. This 60% number still smells a bit… Fox-like. If you have a reliable source, then please provide.
Doesn’t change the fact that this poll wasn’t meant to be, nor should it be, a vote. It was meant to assess potential trouble spots if the policy changes. Just as we shouldn’t put it to a vote if people want to serve with Jews or Creationists or Muslims.
“Thanks J.J. I am going to assume then that inappropriate sexual conduct of whatever type will still raise UCMJ problems, as much for homosexual as well as heterosexual misconduct.”
If you look at the specific UCMJ article regarding sodomy (125), and read the Explanation, you’ll come to the conclusion that most, if not mostest most, of the armed forces are dischargeable under the article.
Since few seem to have read Doug’s post, Quote of the Day, let me place the quote here:
“We have a gay guy [in the unit]. He’s big, he’s mean, and he kills lots of bad guys. No one cared that he was gay.”– Special Forces Officer quoted in Pentagon DADT report
MM: I am not “getting” that #, (tho I did read it elsewhere, NYT??? I think) anyway, I was just pointing out the disconnect of thought going on in this conversation: Not all troops are combat troops.
I have no idea if the #s are correct, they seem plausible to me… and quite beside the point.
A soldier (sailor, airman, marine) takes orders. He does not get to choose which orders he obeys and which he ignores. Sorry guys, this is long past due, Besides, if he can’t tell you he is gay, is he any less gay? Does he look at your junk any differently?
DADT was the stupidest thing since… Jim Crow.
Sam, thought about commenting there, decided that what I had to say was redundant, maybe not: One of the toughest guys I ever knew was as queer as a $3 bill… but call him a “faggot” and he would rip off your head and sh*t down the hole… Nobody I’d rather be in an alley fight with… I’d have put Allan up against Ali in his prime… All 160#’s of him.
Yes Loser there is a difference between all troops and combat troops.
I as I suspect most of you have not seen the study but only comments and snippets from it. NYT was one of the sources. Another good one is
A few snippets
“McCain also raised concerns about the relatively higher rate of troops in combat units — up to 60 percent — who said allowing gays to serve openly could affect unit cohesion and morale.”
“Nowhere in the Pentagon’s 103-question survey about gays in the military did troops get an opportunity to offer a direct opinion on the underlying issue: Do you want to see “don’t ask, don’t tell” repealed?’
“And “Were you troubled at the answer we might have received, if we had simply asked them, in addition to all the other questions. … ‘Do you think the law should be changed?’ ” asked Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.”
Read the whole thing. It quite interesting and the study is not as cut and dry as some of you would have us believe. However many of you don’t want to know what the study says. You just want to rush through it and claim it says this or that wither it is true or not.
If you get a chance, take a look at the Wikipedia entry for Alan Turing.
I would like to see a good analysis of the study, but the military times doesn’t have it either. I suspect the entire study has not been made available to the media, because MT says “in combat troops – up to 60%” and the NY Times, ’40-60%…in selected combat units’ What are those “selected… units”
Just to reiterate, though, this wasn’t a vote and it shouldn’t be a vote. We don’t take votes to see if fundamental rights and responsibilities should be granted to Americans.
To throw more fuel on the fire here is an article with Comments from the Marine and Army Chiefs. Excerpt from The Marine Commandant
“If the law is changed, successfully implementing repeal and assimilating openly homosexual Marines into the tightly woven fabric of our combat units has strong potential for disruption at the small unit level, as it will no doubt divert leadership attention away from an almost singular focus of preparing units for combat,” the Marine commandant, Gen. James Amos,
You kind of ran away from our discussion about Gates. Can you give us more detail about how he is a liberal appointed by Obama?
> as it will no doubt divert leadership attention away from an almost singular focus of preparing units for combat,”
Maybe the leadership will have to up their game. Civilian control of the military is one of the bedrock principals of this country.
I guess there are a bunch of people who are still sore about Truman not having ad nauseum studies and polls about the feeling of the troops being in the same showers as colored people before he stomped on their rights and gutted combat effectiveness by issing the executive order on integrating the armed forces.
Gates is a political appointee which needs to be taken into consideration. He is a civilian leader of the military. He is not the same as military commanders in the field. Claiming he speaks for the commanders in field is faulty at best. Above article proves that. What part of those comments don’t you understand?
You know, I think a lot of people forget that when DADT was originally enacted, that it was a step forward (from previous policies on gays.) I didn’t think – back then, that it was a good idea – we should have just said “deal with it” – the way so many other militaries (that are currently functioning fine with homosexuals in them) are doing. But DADT was an improvement.
And personally, I wish common courtesy would intervene an that at least the DA part would still be banned, no matter what. Asking someone what their preference is strikes me as major-rude.
(As rude as the habit of gossip on who did what to whom last night, but I’m afraid it’s just too ingrained in some cultures to brag. DT is pretty much unenforceable, even if I, personally, consider it too much information.)
Wayne – I guess you have no concept of the military chain of command, do you? Who do the “military commanders” report to?
> Gates is a political appointee which needs to be taken into consideration.
So you are walking back your earlier BS claim that Gates is a “liberal appointed by Obama”?
> He is a civilian leader of the military. He is not the same as military commanders in the field.
No, it’s not. But apparently you do not understand how it is not the same. Do some research on chain of command. The military leadership in this country answers to the civilian leadership. Period. Not open for discussion.
Absolutely. But Congress, while not in the chain of command, is charged by the Constitution with funding and regulating the armed forces. They’re very much entitled to listen to the views of the military brass.
In that sense, the military is no different from any other bureaucracy. The president’s proposing a policy doesn’t mean that the senior career officials of the agency think it’s a good idea. And they’re often asked to testify before Congress to give their assessments. As with the generals, though, they’re expected to carry out policy once it’s decided. The difference is that the generals actually do it.
First. Mullen and Gates signalled they were for repeal much earlier..
“The military leadership in this country answers to the civilian leadership. Period. Not open for discussion’
Mr. Twister strikes again. What does this have to do with the premis that the views of the military commanders should be heard. The Senate routinely has hearings where senior officers report on issues. If an officer is asked a question regarding DADT what should the officer say – whatever the SECDEF tells him to say?
Not saying that the views of military leaders should not be heard and respected. But this discrimination has to go, and my sense is that some of these guys are just going to cling to the existing military culture for as long as possible. I suspect there was similar resistance to the full integration of blacks into the military.
The game of kick the can down the road continues. First, we absolutely had to have the report in hand before DADT could go. Now all the service chiefs have to be on board? Clearly there are GOP members of Congress who want to continue the current policy of relegating gays in the military to second class status. I think this is more about running out the clock on the current Congress than respect for military leaders.
davod… where was all this respect for the opinions of military leaders when General Shinseki was being run out of town on a rail?
“davod… where was all this respect for the opinions of military leaders when General Shinseki was being run out of town on a rail?”
As I recall Shinsekii’s retirement date was already set before he made the remarks which supposedly led to him being run out of town on a rail. Not to worry. He is back now. Allthough I suppose he thought he would be back much earlier when Kerry reported for duty.
I agree we have to hear these guys out. They’re full of sh*t, but we should hear them out.
It’s good to have officers express opinions in appropriate contexts. You don’t want a military culture that hampers the ability of a captain to tell a colonel that taking a particular objective is suicidal. So long as the captain then obeys orders.
“I agree we have to hear these guys out. They’re full of sh*t, but we should hear them out.”
The sh*t part of this is once again it appears as if not only did the repealers game the the report, they dissembled the results.
In “The Last Boss That Said This To Me…(Guess what the title refers to?).” http://www.blackfive.net/main/2010/12/the-last-boss-that-said-this-to-me.html#more ” Deebow at Blackfive includes this :
” In response to the Department of Defense report on repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, here is the analysis of Former Navy Chaplain Gordon James Klingenschmitts, who is an active opponent of any change to the current policy.
“Don’t believe the phony liberal media reports that 70% of troops support open homosexual service, because that statistic included ‘mixed’ feelings. A closer reading of the fine print in the newly released Pentagon survey shows our troops answered as follows:
“Q45. If you had a leader whom you believed was gay or lesbian…9% positive, 91% negative or mixed impact on unit’s performance.
“Q68c. 85% of Marine Combat Arms, 75% of Army Combat Arms, 64% overall say Negative, Very Negative, or Mixed impact on unit trust if DADT is repealed.
“Q90. 29% would take no action if assigned open showers with homosexuals. 71% would shower at other times, complain to leadership or chaplains, don’t know or do “something else” [including violence].
“Q81. 24% will leave the military or think about leaving sooner than planned. (One half million troops will QUIT the service early, destroying our national security.)
“Q80. 6% will positively recommend service to others after repeal. 94% feel negative, mixed, no effect, or don’t know about recommending military service to others. (Destroying recruiting efforts.)
“Q66. If open homosexuality impacts combat performance, is the impact…9% positive, 91% negative or mixed impact.
“Q71. 11% feel positive or very positive about permitting open homosexuality in field environment or out at sea. 60% negative or mixed. 19% no effect.
“Q73. 5% say repeal would positively boost morale. 41% say negative or mixed impact morale. Rest no effect or don’t know…”
I guess we can include this under Lies, damn lies and Repealers. Don’t the troops and the American people deserve better.
For years the right has been complaining about the weak leadership provided by poll-driven Democratic politicians who lack convictions & strong leadership, and simply go about their business with finger to the wind.
Now, suddenly, the right is posively obsessed with polling data, and the concept of providing decisive leadership or simply doing the right thing has fallen by the wayside.
> As I recall Shinsekii’s retirement date was already set before he made the remarks which supposedly led to him being run out of town on a rail.
You are missing the point (difficult to believe as that is). Can you provide links to some of your writing at the time where you called the civilian leadership at DOD on the carpet for ignoring the valuable (and, as with know with hindsight, correct) opinions of this respected military leader?