McCain Slams DADT Repeal
Embattled Arizona Republican Senator John McCain struck out at attempts to repeal the military's ban on openly gay and lesbian troops before year's end.
President Obama had spoken of wanting to see the end of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" this year in his January State of the Union Address. But the White House has been largely silent on the issue since Department of Defense secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Navy Adm. Mike Mullen announced a year-long review of the issue, focusing on how to best implement a repeal of the 17-year-old anti-gay law.
Although polls show that 70% of Americans believe it is time to set the ban aside, Republicans have stepped into the gap left by the White House's silence, and sought to make the question an election year issue.
McCain, whose seat is seen as being in danger of going to Tea Party challenger J. D. Hayworth, said on a radio interview that Congressional Democrats and the Obama administration were attempting to "jam" repeal of the anti-gay law through the legislative process, reported The Hill on May 24. The article said that McCain slammed Democrats and the White House for reaching an accord on ending the ban soon through legislative means--though the agreement stipulates that the repeal would not go into effect until at least after the completion of the year-long review in 2011, after the upcoming midterm elections. The senator is the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Earlier this year, following the announcement of the year-long review of the policy by Gates and Mullen, McCain--who had previously indicated that he would follow the lead of military brass on the subject--abruptly did a 180-degree turn, noted NPR in a Feb. 2 article. The NPR article referred to a Washington Post item on McCain's about-face. The Post said that McCain had seemed to "shift" suddenly on the issue, and referenced a 2006 statement McCain had made in which he said, "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."
Those words were seemingly forgotten when Gates and Mullen told Congress that the time had come to set aside the ban, noted the Post. Rather than embracing the words of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, McCain proclaimed himself "disappointed," and said, "At this moment of immense hardship for our armed services, we should not be seeking to overturn the 'don't ask, don't tell' policy," which McCain said was "imperfect but effective."
The Washington Post noted that McCain had become a critic of President Obama since his loss in the 2008 presidential race.
The yearlong review is seen as an unnecessary delay by proponents of repeal, who point to the success enjoyed by America's allies, all of whom have integrated their militaries without suffering the loss of morale, good order, military readiness, or cohesion that the ban's proponents insist would result if gay troops were free to declare the truth about themselves without being discharged for doing so.
Worse, opponents of DADT see any delay in ending the ban as possibly derailing repeal for years to come, given the national mood and the possibility that Republicans will take a large number of congressional seats in the fall.
McCain fell back on familiar talking points in the radio interview, telling Arizona station KBLU that, "This 'Don't ask, don't tell' issue, they're going to try to jam that through without even trying to figure out what the impact on battle effectiveness would be."