John McCain has had a very interesting couple of years. Since the beginning of his last ill-fated Presidential campaign, public perception has steadily declined in light of a series of sometimes confusing and occasionally outright hypocritical decisions and sound-bites. A decorated war veteran often recognized as a quality moderate voice in the political theater, he now seems a stalwart far-right spokesman, willing and able to backtrack on issues on which he has an established history.
The latest, it seems, is his stance on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the active military policy preventing openly LGBT men and women from serving their country. In October of 2006, McCain went on record as saying that he would support the repeal of the controversial policy when the military officials requested it. However, when Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced that he would formally ask for its repeal in February of this year, McCain quickly shifted his stance.
At first, he seemed merely reluctant to support an immediate reversal, citing concern over the readiness of the military. Then, after an extensive study concluded that the military was, indeed, ready to accept openly LGBT men and women, McCain again shifted his position. Suddenly, McCain seems to want to maintain the policy indefinitely, now leading a Republican opposition to a repeal, arguing that "...troops would quit in droves if Congress repealed the 'don't ask, don't tell' law."
This argument is in stark opposition to the study, which discovered that 92 percent of those polled who had served with LGBT service members found had no issue working together with them. That point was made unambiguously by Admiral Michael Mullen yesterday during hearing testimony. General George Casey, however, a member of the opposition movement led by McCain, asserts that the study was not comprehensive enough, arguing that "...implementing repeal and assimilating openly homosexual Marines into the tightly woven fabric of our combat units has strong potential for disruption at the small unit level..."
The debate yesterday became particularly heated when McCain seemed to insinuate that Admiral Mullen wasn't properly considering the needs of the military when he said, "every great leader I've ever known always consulted subordinates for their views, no matter what the issue." Admiral Mullen responded strongly by saying, "...don't think for one moment that I haven't carefully considered the impact of the advice I give on those who will have to live with the decisions that advice informs."