On the matter of "Don't Ask Don't Tell," Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) once promised that he would listen to "leaders in the military," telling people that 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." But when those military leaders came to him and told him it was time to change the policy, McCain retreated from his previous pledge, because it turns out he gets to pick and choose which military leaders he gets to heed.The Huffington Post blogger then gets a bit snarky and proclaims:
And in this case, McCain has chosen the signatories of a letter signed by "over a thousand retired and flag general officers," among other folks. But, as noted by Amanada Terkel, that letter turns out to be something of an exercise in ghost whispering:...a new Servicemembers United report obtained in advance by DC Agenda severely undermines the legitimacy of this letter. Some of the problems:
- The average age of the officers is 74. The "oldest living signer is 98, and several signers died in the time since the document was published." Servicemembers United Executive Director Alex Nicholson added that only "a small fraction of these officers have even served in the military during the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' period, much less in the 21st century military," so it's hard to believe that they "know how accepting and tolerant 18- and 21-year-olds are today."
- "At least one signer, Gen. Louis Menetrey, was deceased when the letter was published and didn't sign the document himself. According to a footnote on the letter, his wife signed the document for him after his death using power of attorney -- six years after Alzheimer's disease robbed him of the ability to communicate."
Anyway, for his next trick, John McCain will produce an 1876 letter from General George Armstrong Custer that reads, "No, no, don't worry, I can totally take these guys!"But that just reminds me of a little story, one of many fascinating stories, in Evan McConnell's book "Son of the Morningstar", which is all about General Custer, the 7th Cavalry and the Battle of the Little Bighorn.
It turned out that when the 7th Cavalry was in the field, one of the more-reclusive, more-retiring laundresses of Custer's 7th-Cavalry sickened, and then died. Upon preparing her body for burial, they discovered the laundress was actually a man.
DADT, or variants thereof, have a longer history than many people might realize.
Which is why people fight so to retain it. It conforms to a certain kind of military tradition wherein plain-speaking is not prized, and is indeed sacrificed in the name of order.
DADT is alluring to some officers because it seems to simplify the administration of military discipline. It is a terrible hoax that, in fact, gravely complicates the administration of military discipline.
Time to bid farewell to DADT....