Oh, John McCain. How I long for the heady days of the 2008 Republican primary, when I used to think “hey, I’m not going to vote for him, but he’s not the worst option if the Republicans win…”
Then he won the primary, and decided that maverick-y, bipartisan John McCain had no shot at becoming the President. The tone of the campaign turned dirty, to the point where Obama felt he needed a website solely devoted to fighting the smears. It hasn’t gotten any better since he lost the campaign.
His maverick/bipartisan nature is gone, so far gone that he denied ever claiming the maverick title in an attempt to reposition himself during his 2010 primary. He has become line-toeing party operative, going with the “do what I want or do nothing at all” attitude of the current Republican party.
But watching the video of McCain in the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” hearings is even worse:
If you’re rushed for time, here’s a sample (quotes from the video, ellipses where the video seems to have been cut):
McCain: Well Admiral [Mullen], I’m really kind of taken aback at yours and the Secretary’s statement that we won’t have a “referendum” by the men and women in the military. Everything I ever learned about leadership, everything I ever practiced about leadership, every great leader I’ve ever known always consulted with his subordinates for their views, no matter what the issue… But to somehow say “well, we’re not going to have a referendum.” It’s not a referendum, that’s not what leadership is. Leadership is soliciting the views of your subordinates, and thereway, and thereby, you’re able to carry out your mission, because you have to rely on them to do so.
So . . . McCain appears to be troubled by the fact that they won’t make this decision based on a referendum that’s not a referendum. Confusing. But let’s give him the benefit of the doubt on that one. He’s saying you should consult with the troops before ending DADT. Hey, that’s a pretty good point. Maybe we should. Oh wait. WE DID. McCain said that in a hearing about the study itself, a study that resulted in a final report 165 pages long and included questions about what servicemembers would do if there was a gay or lesbian couple living in the barracks (18% would move off base) or sharing the shower facilities (73% of people who had shared an open bay shower facility before would take no action and 62% of people who had not shared an open bay shower facility).
So if that wasn’t enough for him, McCain looks like he wants a flat vote by the troops on DADT. I’m not a military man, but I’m pretty sure that’s not how the military works. Or maybe I missed the popular vote (among the troops or otherwise) on whether we should go to Iraq and Afghanistan. Probably missed the popular vote they held when they were deciding to undersupply body armor for the troops.
McCain also claimed the sample size was too small, with a response rate of only 28% of those who were invited to take it, representing 6% of the troops overall. Mark Blumenthal at the Huffington Post shows that the sample size and response rate for the survey were actually quite good. And small sample sizes don’t seem to have been a problem for McCain in the past. In an interview with Hannity in July 2008, he cited statistics saying that “84 percent of the American people think the country’s on the wrong track.” He appears to be quoting this Washington Post-ABC News poll (though there was a Gallup poll at the same time that had similar results) which sampled 1,125 adults. Yep, 1,125 people, or roughly 0.0009% of the 125 million people who voted in the 2008 election. So I guess sample size isn’t an issue, unless it will let gays serve their country.
But I think the most insulting thing is McCain’s treatment of Admiral Mullen and Secretary Gates. McCain has said that he considers neither Obama (the Commander-in-Chief . . . of the military) nor Secretary Gates (who was actually in the Air Force, and spent 27 years in the CIA) to be “military leaders.” Stupid, but I guess you can get there with some definitional maneuvering. But watching him sit up there and lecture Admiral Mullen about leadership? Mullen graduated from the Naval Academy in 1968, has commanded three ships (USS Noxubee, USS Goldsborough, USS Yorktown) and three fleets/groups (Cruiser/Destroyer Group 2, George Washington Battle Group, U.S. 2nd Fleet/NATO Striking Fleet Atlantic); held leadership positions at the Naval Academy, in the Navy’s Bureau of Personnel, in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and on the Navy Staff; and his most recent operational assignment was as commander of the NATO Joint Force Command Naples/U.S. Naval Forces Europe. So please, Mr. McCain, don’t get up there and lecture Admiral Mullen about leadership because you don’t like gays.
I remain hopeful that DADT will be repealed, whether it’s legislatively or judicially. But the fact that McCain is still one of our country’s most prominent political voices, despite the fact that he appears to have no platform besides “who can I pander to today?” . . . that really troubles me.