military

McCain breaks his word on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

Three years ago, John McCain had this to say regarding the United States’ discriminatory policy on homosexuals serving in the military:

“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.”

Today, the leadership of the military – Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen – testified to the Senate Armed Service Committee that it is time to change the policy. McCain’s response to the military’s highest leadership?

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell has been an imperfect but effective policy.  And at this moment, when we are asking more of our military than at any time in recent memory, we should not repeal this law.”

Admiral Mullen testified, “It is my personal belief that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly would be the right thing to do.… I cannot escape being troubled in the fact that we have in place a policy that forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens.” But apparently that’s not good enough for Senator McCain any more.

John McCain has been an interesting character to me, and my coverage of him on this blog reflects that. I’ve given him high praise for his sometimes unpopular stand on torture, and endorsed him in the Republican primaries. But despite the noble values the Senator sometimes espouses, this is not the first time he has made a complete political about-face – check out his argument for troop withdrawal from Haiti in the early ’90s compared to his unflinching support of our current extended occupations in the Middle East.

It’s one thing to be a “maverick” and express your views even when they conflict with political convenience. It’s another thing to actually follow through on those views as an honest man. I honor your opinions, Senator McCain, but I question your integrity when you won’t stand by your own commitments.