Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

McCain flips on 'don't ask, don't tell'

mccaindadt.JPG

John McCain's position on "don't ask, don't tell" used to be on the sensible end of the conservative spectrum. "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 because those leaders in the military are the ones we give the responsibility to," McCain said.

Yesterday, that happened. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen testified in support of changing the policy. In response, McCain 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."

There are a few plausible explanations for this. The first is that McCain does not count Gates and Mullen as "the leadership of the military," which would mean he doesn't believe in civilian control of the military, which would be scary indeed. But let's give McCain the benefit of the doubt and assume him anti-military dictatorship. Then we're left with: 1. McCain has changed his position without telling anybody; or 2. McCain thinks the military is too delicate to handle an infusion of patriotic Americans interested in serving their country during wartime.

I'm not sure which makes McCain look worse. And either way, he's breaking faith with all the gay Americans who thought he would be their ally when they were finally able to persuade the military's leadership to let them serve. It's frankly dishonorable.

Photo credit: Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP.

By Ezra Klein  |  February 3, 2010; 9:03 AM ET
 
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Poll: Americans prefer a non-terrible Democratic Party
Next: Nancy Pelosi explains why you can't pare back the health-care bill

Comments

The flip flop is clearly due to his wanting to pander to the Arizona tea baggers in his re-election bid.

Posted by: Lomillialor | February 3, 2010 9:15 AM | Report abuse

The flip flop is clearly due to his being a frankly dishonorable politician.

Posted by: fuse | February 3, 2010 9:17 AM | Report abuse

It's safe to say it's clear that John McCain does not support the military commanders.

Posted by: James10 | February 3, 2010 9:22 AM | Report abuse

Lomilllalor is 100% right. Hayworth is closing in on him and quickly. Another shining example of why we need term limits.

Posted by: visionbrkr | February 3, 2010 9:25 AM | Report abuse

Am I missing something? What is the "immense hardship" that the military is suffering now compared to any other time? Yes, there's a couple of wars on, but isn't that what these folks are paid to do? Yes, the economy sucks, but these folks have jobs! Where's the special hardship? (Or is it the fact that there is a Democrat in the White House?)

Posted by: Virginia7 | February 3, 2010 9:26 AM | Report abuse

"Am I missing something? What is the 'immense hardship' that the military is suffering now compared to any other time?"

The immense hardship they are suffering is a significant lack of experienced Arab-language speaking personnel . . . oh, wait.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | February 3, 2010 9:33 AM | Report abuse

"It's frankly dishonorable."

Hey, that's pretty catchy! "Frankly Dishonorable: The John McCain Story." On debt, Sarah Palin, torture, gays in the military, global warming, and pretty much everything else, he's willing to say anything to gain TV attention and votes at that moment. A man without principles.

Posted by: eelvisberg | February 3, 2010 9:46 AM | Report abuse

McCain's become an absolutely pathetic waste of protoplasm.

And no, sorry, his thoroughly heroic service to his country DOESN'T give him a free pass from criticism.

Posted by: Jasper999 | February 3, 2010 9:48 AM | Report abuse

After his latest presidential election loss, and the reckless negligence he displayed in his vp choice McCain has morphed into a bitterly angry shell of a man. I guess that happens when years of integrity and credibility are flushed down the toilet.

Posted by: NotFooledTX | February 3, 2010 9:58 AM | Report abuse

Minor technicality: Adm. Mullen is not a civilian, he's the highest-ranking military officer. Appointed by Bush, by the way.

Posted by: tl_houston | February 3, 2010 10:02 AM | Report abuse

All McCain is worried about these days is keeping his senate seat. The baggers are on his butt. He waved a letter in front of Gates aand Mullen claiming it had the signatures of 1000 generals and other military personel who didn't want DADT overturned. How McCarthyesque of him.

Posted by: creatia52 | February 3, 2010 10:04 AM | Report abuse

Whoa. Reality rears its ugly head. The plurality of commenters agree that McCain has only taken this stance to protect his right flank from Hayworth. Guess we all read Ezra's posts from the past couple of days.

Rave on!

Posted by: Rick00 | February 3, 2010 10:06 AM | Report abuse

I had the same issue as tl_houston. I don't know much about the Joint Chief, but I always thought he was a general (or something). But the way you wrote this, I had to go to Google to check. Your point would have been stronger had you given his rank and better still had you mentioned how he was a Bush appointee.

McCain would hardly have been breaking his promise if only Gates had asked for it. Right or wrong, you can believe that permanent military personel are less prone to political correctness than political appointees without simultaneously be hoping for a coup. But with a Bush-appointed admiral pushing as well, it's time for him to honor his word.

Posted by: blsdaniel | February 3, 2010 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Throughout the campaign last year and even to this day, occasionally McCain looks visibly uncomfortable with supporting the party line. There's a conscience down in there somewhere, a vestige of the former GOP nagging at him. Which makes it all the more despicable that he chooses to ignore it and vote for torture and insane stop loss protocols and against troop pay raises and increased benefits. RIP, John McCain - now you're nothing but a soulless husk of a former hero.

Posted by: BigTunaTim | February 3, 2010 11:02 AM | Report abuse

"The day that the leadership of the military comes to me and says, 'Senator, we ought to change the policy,'

Frank Gates is merely the extension of the elected political leadership who McCain's statement was specifically directed to counter....Ezra Klein---you completely misunderstood John McCain's statement...John McCain does believe in civilian rule of the military, but that civilian rule should give deference to the MILITARY leaders on such issues as "don't ask don't tell" specifically because "those leaders in the military are the ones we give the responsibility to,"


Nice word play Ezra..Nice try but really you're too smart for this kind of bs.

Posted by: FastEddieO007 | February 3, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

McCain's point is simple---elected leaders and their political appointees should give deference to the military leaders responsible for the actual success of military operations.

Ezra is trying to parse words in a way that would be embarrassing to the great Senator John McCain if John McCain were to actually care about anything a weaselly little lefty blogger at the Washington Post wrote.

John McCain doesn't care. So the point is moot.

Posted by: FastEddieO007 | February 3, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Please!! The fact that a couple of guys agree with their boss is big news? Come on! Did you expect Gates and Mullen to do anything other that nod vigorously when Obama says he wants gays in the military to be able to come out of the closet. Not if they want to keep their jobs. And the fact that both Mullen and Gates stayed on after Bush left office indicates that they like their jobs. The folks who's opinions I'm interested in and I'm sure McCain is interested in are the grunts in the trenches. The liberals say let the gays in the military come out. The liberal say it's only right and that's all that matters. Who cares what the guys in the treches think who'll actually have to live everyday with this liberal social experiment. I say keep your liberal hands off the U.S. military. Besides the Congress will never approve it.

Posted by: RobT1 | February 3, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

I'd be curious to know if Obama is willing to get Colin Powell to do a talk show circuit advocating this?

My guess is this is a case where Colin Powell is too principled to carry water for Obama...though I've had my heart broken before.

Posted by: FastEddieO007 | February 3, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

I'm amazed that any gay Americans ever thought John McCain would ever be their ally on anything.

Posted by: randrewm | February 3, 2010 12:55 PM | Report abuse

"Please!! The fact that a couple of guys agree with their boss is big news? Come on! Did you expect Gates and Mullen to do anything other that nod vigorously when Obama says he wants gays in the military to be able to come out of the closet. Not if they want to keep their jobs. " - RobT1

Please!! Do you really think that Obama would fire Gates & McMullen if they came out against repeal of DADT? It would be political suicide for Obama to do that. Did Clinton lay a hand on any of the Joint Chiefs of Staff when they came out against repealing the ban on gays in the military in '93?

"The folks who's opinions I'm interested in and I'm sure McCain is interested in are the grunts in the trenches."

See here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don't_ask,_don't_tell#Military_personnel_opinion

Posted by: PeterH1 | February 3, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

"My guess is this is a case where Colin Powell is too principled to carry water for Obama...though I've had my heart broken before." - FastEddieO007

Prepare to have your heart broken again :)

http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/02/03/powell-favors-repeal-of-dont-ask-dont-tell/

Posted by: PeterH1 | February 3, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if Ezra Klein feels compelled to point out Colin Powell's flip flop?

Posted by: FastEddieO007 | February 3, 2010 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Why is it a flip-flop, FastEddieO007? Colin Powell is not a politican, and has no need to carry water for anybody. Why can't you accept that he genuinely believes that DADT is longer necessary?

Posted by: PeterH1 | February 3, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

McCain is being pathetic. And he tried to lean on Powell's earlier stance yesterday, and, whee, the former Joint Chief/Sec'y of state smacked McCain's cane out from under him today.
I can't imagine that I'll be very happy with McCain's replacement - lets face it, John and Harry will be in adjacent retirement villages in the desert SW this time next year - but at least the new guy will be a jr. Senator with far less national clout than this bitter, gutless former hero we see spluttering and flailing now.

Posted by: RalfW | February 3, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, another possible explanation:

2006: McCain was very confident that military leadership would never entertain the thought of repealing DADT.

2010: Ooops, the leadership did.

Posted by: onewing1 | February 3, 2010 2:50 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company