Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

McCain is still on the wrong side of history

By Adam Serwer

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) keeps finding new excuses to justify his opposition to repealing the military's discriminatory don't ask don't tell policy.

As Alex Seitz-Wald notes, McCain said he would "defer" to military leadership on the matter, until the military leadership declared their public support for repeal. Then McCain changed his mind and said he wanted to wait for completion of the military's internal study on the effect repealing DADT would have. Now that it's clear that study will show that most servicemembers are supportive of or indifferent to allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly, McCain has arbitrarily shifted his standards for supporting repeal again, saying that "we need a thorough and complete study of the effects-not how to implement a repeal, but the effects on morale and battle effectiveness."

Good news for McCain: A study of that kind was already conducted in 1993 by the Rand Corporation. That study, which looked at the effect of allowing gays and lesbians to work as police, firefighters, and serve as soldiers in foreign militaries, found that there was no danger in allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly. The reason was that while gay and lesbian servicemembers serving openly might undermine "social cohesion," it wouldn't undermine "task cohesion," which is the only factor that impacts military effectiveness. In spite of the evidence, the politics and prevailing cultural prejudices of the time resulted in the "compromise" policy of allowing gays and lesbians to serve as long as they conceal their orientation. The truth is that we've known that this kind of social diversity doesn't hurt the military since the government studied integrated units during the Korean War in the 1950s. When it comes to foxholes, bigotry is less common than atheism. 

For McCain and the GOP, this isn't about principle, it isn't about empiricism, and given the way that DADT actively harms military effectiveness, it most definitely is not about national security. It's about ideology.

For that reason, McCain was a brilliant choice to lead the GOP's opposition to repealing DADT. McCain has always cast himself as the shining knight at the center of his own political drama. As George Will put in in 2008, "For McCain, politics is always operatic, pitting people who agree with him against those who are "corrupt" or "betray the public's trust," two categories that seem to be exhaustive -- there are no other people."

There is no constant principle in McCain's dramas other than McCain seeing himself as an untainted force for the public good. In 2000, his opposition to Bush drove him to push for campaign finance reform, arguably his signature legislative accomplishment. When the Supreme Court overturned the law, which for conservatives had become a symbol of unconstitutional restraints on speech, McCain barely gave a peep. Facing a hard-right primary opponent, McCain abandoned his past support for comprehensive immigration reform legislation, grumbling in an ad that the government should "complete the danged fence," despite being completely aware that border security alone won't stop illegal immigration. The principles shift with the wind, but the one constant is that McCain is a lone, untainted force good standing athwart history saying whatever it takes to keep his Senate seat.

But McCain isn't facing down anything resembling entrenched special interests this time around. He's merely preventing brave, patriotic Americans from serving their country based on the fleeting whims and prejudices of our time. What Will referred to as McCain's flair for "operatic politics" is blinding him from recognizing that he is very much on the wrong side of history -- and history will be substantially less forgiving than his fans in the mainstream press.

Adam Serwer is a staff writer at The American Prospect, where he writes his own blog.

By Adam Serwer  | November 15, 2010; 10:41 AM ET
Categories:  Senate Republicans, gay rights  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: The Morning Plum
Next: Liberals to Dem leaders: Hold a vote just on extending middle class tax cuts

Comments


The point is this: "250K a year" is Obama's codewords for "Let's divide it along racial lines and try to compensate the blacks."

______________________________


This certainly appears to be an issue which should be examined and discussed.

Is this 250K a "codeword" for dividing out the bulk of the black community from the tax increases ???


I think it is important to say that a majority of Americans would support sustained efforts to help the innercities.

This Obama has not done - for fear of appearing "too black."


Instead, it appears that Obama has attempted to adopt these "transformative" ideas - which seek to find a RACIAL ECONOMIC COMPENSATION through policies which are sold as "transformative."


This is serious - these schemes appear to most Americans to be more like "income re-distribution" plans rather than anything else.


I believe most Americans would support targeted programs to help the innercities - programs which seek to help people lift themselves up and eventually get off of government assistance.

This is the problem with Obama: the reasoning behind his policies is HIGHLY SUSPECT. It certainly appears that hidden motives are at work.

Posted by: RedRevolution | November 15, 2010 10:53 AM | Report abuse

This is the problem with Obama: the reasoning behind his policies is HIGHLY SUSPECT. It certainly appears that hidden motives are at work.
----------------------------------

It appears that hidden motives are at work? They must not be very hidden if even you can figure them out.

Posted by: ashotinthedark | November 15, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse

When is McCain the dramaqueen going to announce his run for the Presidency? We're all on the edge of our seats waiting for the news!!! lol

Posted by: mikefromArlington | November 15, 2010 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Why didn't the Dems just get rid of DADT when they had the House and a filibuster proof Senate majority? The great Obumbler could have just written the less than one page bill and handed it over. DONE.

Instead of asking intelligent questions, Greg just obfuscates by babbling about an old, minority party senator.

Pathetic indeed.

Posted by: illogicbuster | November 15, 2010 11:09 AM | Report abuse

While I agree that McCain is on the wrong side of history, and while I don't want to excuse his position or what it says about him, I think we should keep one thing in mind: McCain is really old.

Like, Yoda old.

Old people tend to be set in their beliefs. That he has issues with teh gays shouldn't surprise anyone.

Also too, I've watched McCain over the last couple decades and I'm wondering if his mental facilities aren't slipping. For one thing he has changed his positions on many, if not most, things. For another he claims, laughably, not to have changed positions even though the evidence is overwhelming. And finally, if you want evidence that McCain's brain has liquefied and begun seeping out through his drool hole, look no further than his VP pick.

Posted by: HansSolo | November 15, 2010 11:09 AM | Report abuse

OT but one of Alito's clerks was on C-SPAN this morning railing about how the health care reform was unconstitutional.

I guess they've already made up their minds before hearing the evidence.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | November 15, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Old people tend to be set in their beliefs.

Posted by: HansSolo | November 15, 2010 11:09 AM

The problem, Hans, is not that McCain is set in his beliefs but, rather, that McCain's beliefs keep changing with the wind.

Posted by: pragmaticagain | November 15, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse

@HansSolo: "And finally, if you want evidence that McCain's brain has liquefied and begun seeping out through his drool hole, look no further than his VP pick."

First, I know you shot Greedo first. No revisionist nonsense from Lucas is ever going to make me think any different.

Second, I like Sarah Palin, so you have to take my defense of her as a VP pick with a grain of salt. But, whatever you think you know about her now, and no matter how obviously bad and uninformed and emblematic of the hayseedy redneck rubishness of the great unwashed tea partiers she now seems, virtually none of that was true before she became McCain's VP pick.

In other words, from a political standpoint, it made a lot more sense at the time. And is not evidence of brains "seeping out through his drool hole", although no doubt, a most reasoned and substantive criticism.

In Arizon, senile McCain beat democrat Rodney Glassman, 59.3% to 34.6%. That's a 24.7 spread. What was wrong with Rodney Glassman that old man McLame so easily wiped the floor with him?

Hmm.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | November 15, 2010 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Hey Mike from A ... Perhaps Alito should refuse to attend future seesions of the Supreme Court for the same reason he thinks he should not attend future State of the Union speeches -- they're both getting way too political.

Impeach Alito. If the right wants to start endless investigations in the House, perhaps the left should start some of our own investigations in the Senate. Start with Cantor and move on to Alito. I'm sure we can come up with many more.

But, of course, the the right will screech -- "see they are as bad as us!!"

Posted by: pragmaticagain | November 15, 2010 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Hey Kevin .... are you defending McCain or questioning the voters of Arizona?

Posted by: pragmaticagain | November 15, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

McCain's views do vary on many issues, but on this one I think he's just got a problem. Age-related, yes, but still a problem, best summed up as "he wants the military to keep studying the issue until they reach conclusions he agrees with."

Posted by: Mimikatz | November 15, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

If McCain is so concerned that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly would adversely "effects on morale and battle effectiveness" he should adamantly oppose the assistance of any other military that does allow it since to do so would be harmful to our military personnel.

We should start with telling Great Britain that we are concerned their continued involvement in Afghanistan is harmful.

The British have been allowing open service since 2000:

"Since it began allowing gays to serve in the armed forces in 2000, none of the British military's fears - about harassment, discord, blackmail, bullying or an erosion of unit cohesion or military effectiveness - has come to pass, according to the Ministry of Defense, current and former members of the services, and academics specializing in the military. The biggest news about the policy, they say, is that there is no news. It has for the most part become a nonissue."

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/16/world/europe/16iht-gays.4.5740115.html?_r=1

I can only conclude that McCain believes the American military is less capable than the British military.

Posted by: FauxReal | November 15, 2010 11:35 AM | Report abuse

GREG - Can you please include the leading blurb at the top of Adam Sewer's posts indicating that it is by Adam Sewer? I read your blog via RSS and so I can't tell who has written what from the text published to the RSS feed.

I like your commentary Greg, even if I find it inaccurate, misleading and often times totally naive.

Adam Sewer's commentary on the other hand is so nakedly hyper-partisan that it offers up nothing of substance and contributes less than zero to the political dialog. I'd just as soon skip reading Adam's drivel.

Thanks!

Posted by: BoiledFrog | November 15, 2010 11:36 AM | Report abuse

You sense that Adam Sewer is trying to create a phony sense of inevitability for his position when he prematurely declares those who disagree with him to be "on the wrong side of history".

Mister Sewer, serve up your thin gruel if you must to your brain dead fans but please skip the head games.

Posted by: BoiledFrog | November 15, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

@pragmaticagain: "Hey Kevin .... are you defending McCain or questioning the voters of Arizona?"

I'm suggesting that either McCain isn't all that senile, or the Democrat who opposed him was tragically incompetent. Like, a step above Alvin Greene.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | November 15, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

kevin: "I'm suggesting that either McCain isn't all that senile, or the Democrat who opposed him was tragically incompetent."

I didn't follow Rodney Glassman intently, but from what I read, he was a horrid candidate.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | November 15, 2010 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Kevin

You are darn right I shot Greedo first!

My comment regarding Palin was mostly tongue in cheek. I do think she was a terrible choice and I know quite a few reliable Republican voters who just couldn't put her one heartbeat away from the Presidency and, because of McCain's picking Palin, just stayed home.

I would disagree with you about it making sense at the time. They (team McCain) barely vetted her, so I suppose it might have made sense, but only because they did not know what they should have. In other words, in order to justify their pick, they need to claim ignorance as to who they were picking.

As to McCain's trouncing of his opponent, I'd say this is entirely unsurprising. McCain is one of America's most famous politicians. He's been on the Sunday shows, on average, once a month. He is, by any metric, one of the most visible US politicians. That he won reelection is NOT evidence of his mental clarity.

Posted by: HansSolo | November 15, 2010 11:48 AM | Report abuse

That ultra-leftist, Andrew Sullivan, sees the current right more clearly than most:

The empirical case against the Big Lie is water-tight. And it reveals just how successful - and desperate - the FNC/RNC's meme of Obama as some crazed far leftist is. What this distortion of reality reveals is just how successful propaganda can be - especially when disseminated by a cable news network fused with one political party and directed at an epistemically closed niche audience.

http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2010/11/the-health-care-bill-was-moderate.html

Are you one of the deceived or one of the deceivers?

Posted by: pragmaticagain | November 15, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

All, pressure on Dem leaders grows to hold a vote JUST on extending the middle class tax cuts:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2010/11/liberals_to_dem_leaders_hold_a.html

Posted by: Greg Sargent | November 15, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Hans Solo: "I would disagree with you about it making sense at the time. They (team McCain) barely vetted her, so I suppose it might have made sense, but only because they did not know what they should have. In other words, in order to justify their pick, they need to claim ignorance as to who they were picking."

I think they made some (obviously bad) assumptions about what a person who had made it to the office of Governor would know.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | November 15, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

@pragmatic: "Are you one of the deceived or one of the deceivers?"

Well, hopefully, I'm both!

Ah, well. Must dash. Orphans to trample and whatnot.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | November 15, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

I think they made some (obviously bad) assumptions about what a person who had made it to the office of Governor would know.

~~~~~

For months on end the pundits told us how the VP pick is the most important choice a party nominee for President will make during his candidacy.

They should have done their homework, they didn't.

Let us not forget that the Republican nomination was tied up long before the Democrats. The GOP, and McCain, had plenty of time to do a proper vetting. The "assumptions" you point to are proof that they did not do their due diligence.

Posted by: HansSolo | November 15, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

illogicbuster at 11:09 AM

Asks why didn't Obama move on DADT when they had the filibuster-proof majority?


____________________


Excellent question


One answer is Obama messed up. The other answer if Obama is devious, and he wanted to keep the gay agenda off for a while, in order to keep gays giving to the democrats.


Obama and the democrats are concerned that the gays will not give as many contributions to the democratic party once the major parts of the gay agenda are put in place.

The other answer is that Obama did not forsee losing the 60 votes. The 60 votes were by no means assured because Al Franken was in Court - and then Ted Kennedy passed away.


The democrats had to change the law in Massachusetts to get back to 60 votes - which was NOT a good idea.

It was not a good idea because "the rules are the rules" and they should not be changed mid-stream.

The rules should have applied to when Ted Kennedy died - any changes should have applied to future vacancies.


That fundamental unfairness contributed to Scott Brown's victory.

So, to be fair, add up how many months Obama had the 60 votes - from when they passed the new law in Massachusetts to Scott Brown being seated - and add to that the time from the Court case decision in Minnesota to late August.

It really was not much time.


Posted by: RedRevolution | November 15, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Ah, well. Must dash. Orphans to trample and whatnot.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | November 15, 2010 11:59 AM

Another of the typical responses from the right -- snark designed to feign a accusation that did not occur.

As indicated in a previous post, it is possible for the right to disagree with the left. In fact, we expect it. But disagree with some honesty, propose some real alternatives.

Occasionally, Kevin, you do this. But then you proclaim your love for Sarah Palin, the mother of all deceivers, and your credibility to at least this one leftist is irreparably harmed.

Posted by: pragmaticagain | November 15, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: mikefromArlington, "I guess they've already made up their minds before hearing the evidence."
----------------------------------------
Evidence? There are only 2 pieces of "evidence". The text of the H.C. Law & the Constitution. SCotUS has had both in possession for some time now. LMAO!

Unless, you mean like when Obumbler said that the mandate WASN'T a tax...

Posted by: illogicbuster | November 15, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Good summation RedRevolution.

Posted by: illogicbuster | November 15, 2010 12:59 PM | Report abuse

@pragmatic: "Another of the typical responses from the right -- snark designed to feign a accusation that did not occur."

No, I was entirely serious. What? You don't ever trample orphans?

No wonder you lefties are so ornery.

"But disagree with some honesty, propose some real alternatives."

Propose some real alternatives to "Are you deceived or are you a deceiver?" Like what, for example?

Re: Sarah Palin. I confess, I do like her for what she is. And, of course, the rogues gallery of lefties that rose up in high, mouth-frothing dudgeon against her. Makes me smile.

Also, it's a handy form of shorthand. If you're going to judge me out of your own limited preconceptions, then you'd best get to it. No point in wasting time, really. And I'd hate for you to find out later, and unnecessarily feel deceived.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | November 15, 2010 2:14 PM | Report abuse

I guess it's official...McCain is completely senile.

Posted by: MarcMyWords | November 15, 2010 5:22 PM | Report abuse

McCain is a gay-baiter, verbal gay-basher, who can't face the facts that likely there were gay POWs at the Hanoi Hilton along with McCain, and surely were gays in his squadron.

McCain is a gay-bashing hater who needs to be labeled as such. He is TRYING to keep gays as inferior citizens.

The CONSTITUTION REQUIRES EVERY CITIZEN to join in the defense of the Republic. No citizen is exempted, no class is exempted. Gay taxes pay military salaries, pay military benefits. McCain is a leech on gay taxpayers, who pay his Senate salary.

Posted by: Liann | November 16, 2010 5:16 PM | Report abuse

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge washingtonpost.com's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.




characters remaining

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company