“Today is a very sad day,” sighed a doddering, out-of-touch John McCain on the day “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was finally repealed by Congress.
Oh, shut up, McCain. Your completely indefensible and fear-mongering position lost. Suck it.
“I hope that when we pass this legislation that we will understand that we are doing great damage,” McCain said before the vote.
The only thing the repeal is going to do great damage to is McCain’s reputation. He’s staked his claim to the wrong side of history. As the ban’s staunchest defender in the face of repeal, he’s made himself the George Wallace of this issue.
What’s especially unseemly is McCain’s about-face. While today he stands with the antigay right-wingers he’s so capriciously aligned himself with, four years ago he was Mr. “‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ repeal is fine with me so long as the top brass are cool with it.”
“I listen to people like Gen. Colin Powell, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and literally every military leader that I know. And they testified before Congress that they felt the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy was the most appropriate way to conduct ourselves in the military,” McCain said in 2006. “But 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.”
But of course, as soon as “the leadership of the military” was cool with it, McCain was not.
McCain went out of his way to insist that DADT was “effective” policy and that only military folks who agreed with him were worth listening to.
“They’re saying if it isn’t broke, then don’t fix it,” McCain said. “I understand the other side’s argument because of their social-political agenda, but to somehow allege that it has harmed our military isn’t justified by the facts.”
What exactly does McCain mean when he calls the ban “effective policy?” Effective at what? Ruining people’s lives? Punishing members of the military who are doing a job the vast majority of Americans are too chickenshit to do? Coddling members of the military who think that gay people are too “icky” to work alongside?
And how does kicking trained personnel out not harm the military?
In 2007 McCain said, “We have the best-trained, most professional, best-equipped, most efficient, most wonderful military in the history of this country. There just aren’t enough of them.” Did he mean there just aren’t enough straight ones?
It takes a lot of time and money to turn a new recruit into a fully trained member of the Army, Navy, Air Force or Marines. And yet we’ve been kicking servicemembers out simply because, say, he’s a soldier who doesn’t get turned on by big jugs, or she’s a soldier who does. That’s the policy McCain has been so rabidly defending?
By saying that repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is simply another notch in the belt of some “social-political agenda,” McCain is essentially saying to the thousands of gay and lesbian servicemembers who have lost their careers under the ban, “You’re worthless.”
In the end, it’s McCain himself who is worthless. A man who once seemed to have a shred of integrity but who now barely clings to a shred of dignity after he’s sold out his career trying to appease the antigay right. It looks like that isn’t exactly “effective policy.”
D’Anne Witkowski is a Detroit-based freelance writer.