Men of a Certain Age

by David Link on December 5, 2010

Last Thursday, John McCain said repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is “obviously a transcendently important issue.” (The quote is at the 47 minute mark.)

What if it isn’t?

I don’t mean to say that equality isn’t important – even transcendently important.  I obviously think it is.

But what if the goal of repeal, and maybe even the goal of equal rights in general, is to reduce the amount of time, effort and resources so many people believe we have to spend discriminating?  What if our whole movement is ultimately about reassessing whether it’s not just fairer, but easier all around if Americans could view homosexuality as not such a big deal?

There is more than a little evidence in the Pentagon survey to suggest that we have hit and passed just that tipping point.  The enormous percentages of troops who have actually served with someone they believe to be homosexual and don’t see what all the fuss is about attest to a truism that is nearly a cliché in movies: The ragtag bunch of misfits who bring their peeves and prejudices to their unit find that the only way to survive this man’s army is by working together.  Unit cohesion isn’t a prerequisite to cooperation, it’s a result of it.

McCain and others seem irritated that only 28% of troops responded to the survey.  They argue that 72% of troops believed the fix was in, and couldn’t bring themselves to provide their own answers.

That’s a bit of a stretch.  Do they really believe there is so much cynicism among the young troops?  Could it be that some of our elder statesmen are attributing their own world-weariness to a different generation?  Given the potency of anti-gay sentiment among those who still harbor it, it seems unlikely that troops who had the opportunity to be counted on the earth-shattering question of vile tolerance would stand down.

As the report’s authors testified, a 28% response rate is more than statistically sound, fully consistent with prior military surveys, and is light years beyond the infinitesimal samples who are polled by very smart professionals in the political world on every subject under the sun, with degrees of accuracy that sometimes approach mysticism.

McCain cannot seem to accept that the world might have changed around him, and that the transcendent importance he attributes to sexual orientation isn’t so widely shared any more.  And the context of the hearings couldn’t better illustrate the disproportion of the obsession with homosexuality.  However important – or not – DADT is, is funding the nation’s entire military really the secondary consideration?  Yes, attaching repeal to the funding bill was a political move — big surprise.  But it’s political mostly in the sense that it illuminates the self-indulgence of politicians who are hellbent on catering to a dying prejudice.

To McCain, it is the status quo – the institutionalization of prejudice – that is transcendently important.  He is defending DADT as if it were a principle, rather than a political compromise that no one liked in the first place, but everyone could agree on in order to extricate Bill Clinton from his failed political promise to gays.  That promise proved to be premature for our politics, and the military has had to live with DADT’s bizarre strictures ever since as penance for Clinton’s sins.

The politics of 1993 have dissipated, and that’s helped a new generation see the eccentricities and outlandishness of this policy, whose sole premise is the virtue of lying.  There is an enormous chasm between the people who can shake their heads at that absurd notion and the ones who embrace it, and feel pressed to defend it to the death.

There is good reason to believe the troops are ready to move past the Byzantine machinery of this particular prejudice, which their elders wasted so much time on.   Even McCain has no substantive arguments left, and has to resort to creaky process complaints: We need more studies, we have to have be able to propose amendments, Harry Reid is so darn mean to us!

McCain may still be able to prevail on this unheroic course.  Delay is the last refuge of a political scoundrel, and Washington is full of political scoundrels of both parties.  But if McCain is able to eke out some sort of success on his self-imposed mission, it will not be a victory for anyone, himself included.  The change he fears has already happened, and all that’s left is to remove a dead body from the statutes.  It’s mostly gone from the troops, and from the culture.  All that’s left is the complaints of the losers.

{ 27 comments }

Jorge December 6, 2010 at 1:11 pm

I did not look at the hearing (maybe I should). But I read enough of the study to take your word for it. It’s well said.

John McCain has leapt through so many objections to the study and its conclusions, almost all of them ridiculous, it’s clear he has no core to stand on. I don’t enjoy admitting this.

Carl December 6, 2010 at 1:59 pm

As much as I wish I could believe the idea that anyone who defends this policy is a relic of the past and that the future is on our side, it seems like this is pretty much used for any gay-related progress and yet, somehow, it is rare for policies to ever actually match up to this progress. It doesn’t really matter how many people might say that they don’t support DADT when a majority of them go to the polls and vote in force for people who do very vocally oppose DADT. It doesn’t matter whether or not someone is supportive of gays if they are extremely passive about the homophobia of others.

The argument McCain and several chiefs are using is strong and will likely continue to be used for some time, I’m guessing quite a few years. There is no real answer in response, because most of the public and most of the people in Congress are not combat troops, are not in the military. So when McCain basically says – Why are you doing this in wartime? Why is this supposed to take precedence over our troops? Are you in combat? Do you know what it’s like? Why are you pushing this instead of caring about what is best for the troops? – there is no quick answer.

You also can’t underestimate the deference our “liberal” media gives to this type of view. When a study comes out showing a large majority of soldiers support repealing DADT, what do you get?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/11/30/AR2010113005292.html

Focus on those who oppose repeal, on their fears and their unease.

It seems like when we talk about legislation regarding gay equality, those who support this legislation talk about the future, while those who oppose it are in the present. And over and over, the latter wins, because you don’t pass anything based on some type of future paradise.

Michigan-Matt December 6, 2010 at 4:48 pm

David, in this hatchet piece of pure bias and spin, you posit: “McCain and others … argue that 72% of troops believed the fix was in, and couldn’t bring themselves to provide their own answers. That’s a bit of a stretch. Do they really believe there is so much cynicism among the young troops? ”

David, are you living under a rock? Looking at how committed the Obama Admin, the Congressional Dems and the MSM are to repeal –and the wholesale sell-out of the top civies and brass on the issue– I think the troop response rate is an indication of the “fix was in” is true.

Hell, we all know that the Dems for years have worked hard to suppress the military vote… in close elections, the #1 Dem strategy is to suppress military ballots by any means possible. The military KNOWS Dems and Obama aren’t in their camp… Dem Prez candidate Kerry made it clear when he said if you weren’t smart enough to get into college, you went into the military. Clinton made it clear when he used the military as a diversion for his sex & perjury scandals. Carter made it clear when he unilaterally gutted the military in the late 70s.

One important salient point all Dem activist writers like you miss, David, is that forward combat troops are strongly opposed to a repeal of DADT. And why would that be? Hmmmm. Maybe you’d prefer to ignore that point –afterall, it’s easier to be the Dem monkey and beat your cymbals about the failings of the mean, ol GOPers right?

Why are you so cynical about the intellectual powers of your readers that you leave out that important point?

The only “stretch” comes from gay activist writers who are still working for their Dem masters down on the plantation… trying to skewer any GOPer instead of asking the question, why haven’t the Dems delivered for us on DADTDHDP repeal?

Get off the plantation porch and think, will ya?

The future of the GOP lies in leaving behind social issues in the culture war and focus on righting the sinking fiscal ship that the Dems and Obama have launched. That’s more than enough work for a dozen Congressional sessions.

Carl December 6, 2010 at 5:58 pm

“David, are you living under a rock? Looking at how committed the Obama Admin, the Congressional Dems and the MSM are to repeal –and the wholesale sell-out of the top civies and brass on the issue– I think the troop response rate is an indication of the “fix was in” is true.”

I’m not sure if Obama cares all that much, or the media. I haven’t seen any big media push on this issue, and some papers like the Washington Post have been fine with giving coverage to those who oppose repeal. The media has also given Sens. McCain and Graham opportunities to say why they oppose repeal.

Obama, if he cared that much he would have gotten directly involved. He is just passive, as he is on most issues regarding gays.

Michigan-Matt December 6, 2010 at 9:35 pm

So, it’s the Great O as a disinterested party in the DADT repeal effort? Yeah… that’s the ticket. LOL.

Maybe next you can contend that he really didn’t want ObamaCare to pass; it was only intended as a politically prudent symbolic gesture and never intended as law by the Great O… he wasn’t interested.

I think that’s why the WH domestic advisors pushed Gates and the JCOS-Military to support DADT repeal and give facetime for a “military” brass opinion on the matter.

Obama as passive is like saying Obama is an honest pblic servant. Just because you don’t see the Chicago Way working behind the screen, doesn’t mean the Great Oz isn’t ratcheting down on all those levers… just ask the BigPharma lobbyists who had to pay for Michelle’s Gal Pals to Spain excursion.

Carl December 7, 2010 at 5:10 am

“Maybe next you can contend that he really didn’t want ObamaCare to pass; it was only intended as a politically prudent symbolic gesture and never intended as law by the Great O… he wasn’t interested.”

Obama worked much harder, and took a political risk, on DADT. Even after everyone said that Scott Brown’s election killed the health care bill, he still pushed it through.

Has anything like that happened with DADT? Yes, we have seen a study released, and yes, a few chiefs support repeal, but he had no problem appointing chiefs who vociferously oppose repeal, and the attaching to the defense bill could be removed if they know they won’t have the votes.

Sites like Americablog have asked over and over and over why he hasn’t been more involved.

TommyJ December 6, 2010 at 7:11 pm

1. I think McCain is simply playing politics to save his career. It is not pretty or terribly noble, but [in a bit of painful irony] his VP candidate was helped to energize a movement that pushed the GOP further to the right on just about every single issue. McCain actually faced a Tea Party primary challenger and so he is probably preaching to a very culturally conservative voter base.

2. I can see some honest challenges with the repeal. Not so much the military sodomy law — which has had its scope narrowed — but sorting out sharing showers, dealing with whatever ‘the bible says so’ or more overt harassment may exist within a unit, dealing with public displays of affection and same-sex couples at military functions and the like.

3. But, we are not reinventing the wheel here. Great Britain lifted their ban. Heck, Israel has had openly gay servicemen and women for quite a while and I do not think anyone can seriously question the need of Israel to have a strong and effective military.

BobN December 6, 2010 at 10:03 pm

Once again, I can’t help but note Michigan-Matt’s opposition to repeal of DADT.

Sad, very sad. One wonders why he hates the troops. Well, at least the gay ones.

Michigan-Matt December 8, 2010 at 6:55 pm

Wow. double wow. What alternate universe are you inhabiting these days, BobN? Alice in Wonderland, indeed.

Carl December 7, 2010 at 9:03 am

Looks like Sen. Lugar is another who now opposes repeal.

http://gay.americablog.com/2010/12/looks-like-weve-lost-lugar-on-dadt-he.html

This is the type of thing which will make it less likely this is ever going to come back up. The votes that were supposedly going to be there will not support repeal, and I think that even if the repeal does go away now and returns next year, another reason will be found not to support it.

Michigan-Matt December 7, 2010 at 2:35 pm

Kind of funny to see our resident Alice-in-Wonderland, namely BobN, try to turn reality on its head by contending those who support the troops by respecting the troops’ overwhelming desire to see DADT remain in effect are now anti-troop haters.

Gosh, the sheer mind-spinning that’s needed for a gayLeftie like BobN to hold such a silly notion in his own mind –let alone have the temerity to give public voice to utter nonsense– is a feat worthy of note. Patriots don’t press social engineering on the troops in time of war, BobN. Our recruitment goals are being met; troop morale is at an all time high; re-enlistments are off-the-chart. The only problem is a failed C-in-C in the WH and a Democrat Party that tries to discount and discredit the right of the troops to vote in elections back stateside. That’s YOUR team, BobN.

Maybe you ought change your name from BobN to Bobbing & a’Weavin? Keep it up and you’ll get hired as the Great O’s new press secretary of Spin.

BobN December 7, 2010 at 7:25 pm

Michigan-Matt shorter version: Yes, just like last time, you’re right, BobN, I oppose gay rights.

Matt, is there any gay rights issue you support?

Michigan-Matt December 7, 2010 at 9:18 pm

BobN -n- a’Weavin, thanks for agreeing that you are the resident Alice in Wonderland here and the reality you’d like to burden all gays with is not gay-centric, just Democrat Party centric.

It’s good to have agreement on that score, at least.

Next time you think you can put words into the mouths of others… think again, Alice. I think you have a call from Spin Central in the WH on line one.

BobN December 8, 2010 at 6:54 am

I’m not putting words in your mouth that aren’t true, am I?

You do not support repeal of DADT “in time of war”.

Why you can’t just say that and explain why instead of couching everything in complaints about the Democratic Party, I don’t know.

Plenty of gay Republicans support repealing DADT now, even “in time of war”, so it’s not really a Dem-only position.

As for “hating the troops”, well, I think anyone who expects a front-line soldier to risk expulsion if he slips up phoning home for Christmas is pretty darned hateful.

And can you quit with the name-calling? You’re not very good at the inventive ones and calling a gay man by female names is pretty homophobic, don’t you think.

Michigan-Matt December 8, 2010 at 3:12 pm

Bobbing -n-a’Weavin, let’s see… a short while ago you were claiming proof of the anti-gay nature of GOPers because ONLY Brown and Snowe supported repeal –now you contend, with a str8 face no less, that plenty of GOPers support repealing DADT therefore, it’s not a Dem only position. LOL; spin away and weave and bob, boy.

The frontline troops do, indeed, want to keep DADT in place and do not want to hazard unit cohesion in sacrifice on the altar of social engineering so that some pink cosmo swilling gay activist in DC can “feel good” about societal progress.

You counter that’s being hateful.

Hate is a strange thing for people like you to comprehend. You’re practiced at calling bias “hate”, unintentional discrimination “hate”, sound public policy “hate”. Of course, that comes from the same sector that thinks all opposition to the Great O is “racism”… so we get where you’re coming from, Bobbin-n-a’Weavin. Democrat Party Central Committee.

It’s cool. You can’t win this argument on the merits so you turn to the oldest playbook in civil rights –call your informed, better matched opponent a bigot or hater. Saul Alinsky and the Great O would be proud of you.

The troops know better –it’s why they voted nearly 84% for McCain-Palin and not for the cut-n-run team of Democrats. And it’s why your team tries over and over to discredit any military votes in elections because, like urban voters, we know who they’re going to pull the lever for –only the troops don’t do it with corruption and fraud like the Dems do.

You guys have never cared about the troops, their welfare, their security, their families… why should anyone believe or trust you now?

BobN December 8, 2010 at 6:39 pm

You’re all over the place.

You’re also continuing with silly name-calling, so someone else will have to set you straight. It’s not worth my time.

Michigan-Matt December 8, 2010 at 6:53 pm

BobN, nice try again but it doesn’t hold up to either a sniff or swallow test on your part.

You’re the guy who tried and failed in the claim that if someone opposed DADT repeal, they were anti-troop.

The simple fact remains: you and others here will ignore the simple truth that front line troops do NOT want a repeal of the policy. Secondly, that advocates of repeal can’t even raise repeal without addressing the issues of unit cohesion, morale and troop acceptance of the policy being repealed –and certify no adverse effects will result– just in order to get the policy even discussed for repeal.

Wow. Double wow. In your vernacular of the day.

Throbert McGee December 7, 2010 at 9:47 pm

Once again, I encourage people to read milblogs such as Blackfive.net — you may be surprised to find that some supporters of DADT are more nuanced than you’d expect.

As one heterosexual military guy said to me, he has served with “openly gay” people and didn’t have a problem with it, but he would object to serving with “flamboyantly gay” people. (I didn’t press him on the exact distinction between “open” and “flamboyant”; what was more significant, in my mind, was that the guy distinguished them in the first place, and that he did NOT insist that his gay colleagues in the military must be totally closeted.)

Jimmy December 7, 2010 at 11:15 pm

I think there is a lot to this nuanced view. It speaks to a sense that among men, especially soldiers, what ends up counting most is whether you have paid your dues, exhibited competency, see the job the same way, etc.

I find it hard to believe that a by-product of open service would be a surge in fabulousness among the gay ranks.

Jorge December 8, 2010 at 2:26 am

Looking at how committed the Obama Admin, the Congressional Dems and the MSM are to repeal –and the wholesale sell-out of the top civies and brass on the issue– I think the troop response rate is an indication of the “fix was in” is true.

Objection!

Your evidence has no relevance to the crime. Or this case.

Once again, I encourage people to read milblogs such as Blackfive.net — you may be surprised to find that some supporters of DADT are more nuanced than you’d expect.

And I’d encourage you to read the Department of Defense’s study, which would shouw you that many who are pessimistic about repeal are everything we would expect. If anything, what your friend is showing is the fact that there is no harm to serving with openly gay men. Or women.

Anyway, there are plenty of straight men who are “flamboyant.” What the heck’s going on with them?

Jorge December 8, 2010 at 2:33 am

One important salient point all Dem activist writers like you miss, David, is that forward combat troops are strongly opposed to a repeal of DADT.

That’s interesting, Michigan-Matt, because I thought the study’s authors made it plain that they didn’t take a poll. They took a survey of whether people think there will be problems on such things as unit cohesion and the ability to carry out a mission post-repeal.

In plain English, could you please tell me which page of the repeal study I might find the information telling me that forward combat troops are strongly opposed to a repeal of DADT. I should warn you, that information doesn’t actually exist, so you’re gonna lose badly on this one.

Michigan-Matt December 8, 2010 at 3:30 pm

Jorge, for someone who is so enamored of nuance on this issue, it’s foolish for you to contend your unrealistic perspective is now suddenly reality for all to adopt. Sigh, it’s probably from all those years spent at 2 AM in the gay bar trying to rationalize taking home a troll was acceptable –you can believe ANYthing at 2AM. LOL

Start with Stars & Stripes… http://www.stripes.com/news/special-reports/don-t-ask-don-t-tell

and here… http://www.stripes.com/news/opponents-seize-on-combat-troops-concerns-about-don-t-ask-don-t-tell-repeal-1.127146

Follow that theme here… http://m.nctimes.com/mobile/article_f9a1edea-5848-5d2e-8efe-9e0c2a29ac16.html

Check out Army Times here… http://www.armytimes.com/news/2010/11/ap-military-marine-corps-resists-gay-ban-repeal-112610/

Go to Marine Times for Gen Conway’s remarks here… http://www.marinecorpstimes.com/news/2010/02/marine_conway_dadt_022510w/

For a MSM spin (just for the Bobbin-n-a’Weavin stud) go here… http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/nov/30/front-line-fighters-wary-of-repealing-dont-ask/

If at the end of all that you can still promote the unrealistic position that frontline troops SUPPORT repeal, then you need a healthy dose of reality stat.

BobN December 8, 2010 at 6:57 am

One important salient point all Dem activist writers like you miss, David, is that forward combat troops are strongly opposed to a repeal of DADT.

It’s pretty rich to complain about someone leaving something out and then leave out something yourself.

Michigan-Matt December 8, 2010 at 3:36 pm

Bobbin-n-a’Weavin, please see the answer and information above.

Your side, like the top military brass that’s beholding to the Great O’s political fortunes, wants to ignore the 4600 lbs purple elephant in the room –namely, the frontline troops, in time of war, don’t want the hassle of sorting out the “we got gays in our unit” issue right now. There’s a war on, dude.

Wait until Obama and the Democrats have lost the war in Iraq, retreated from the war in dishonor from Afghanistan and turn the War on Terror back into a law enforcement exercise… then we can repeal DADTDHDP if it suits the pink cosmo crowd at the HRC.

BobN December 8, 2010 at 6:41 pm

Wow. Just wow.

Michigan-Matt December 8, 2010 at 6:46 pm

I know, the truth is a tough load for guys like you on the gayLeft to swallow, but I give you credit for admitting you’ve learned a lesson.

And to think this all started with your silly spin about “why does MM hate the troops” line. Hopefully that’ll end the spinning, dodging, weaving and a’bobbing you’ve been doing on this issue, BobN.

The truth is a tough load for you to swallow is the takeaway lesson.

BobN December 8, 2010 at 8:34 pm

I didn’t say you hate all the troops, just the gay ones.

Is your tendency to leave things out congenital or did you just learn it along the way?

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