All that talk of a brewing GOP civil war? Premature, as far as ending Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is concerned—just ask Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Representative Buck McKeon (R-Calif.). McCain is the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services committee; McKeon is his counterpart in the House, and the expected pick to lead the committee in the 112th congress. As the top Republican lawmakers on defense issues, they’re united their opposition against ending DADT, the policy that prevents homosexuals from serving openly in the military.
After asking hundreds of thousands of servicemen and women for their views on the DADT, the Pentagon released a study on Tuesday concluding that ending the policy wouldn’t have negative consequences. But McCain and McKeon don’t buy it. At a Senate hearing on Thursday, McCain claimed the survey asked the wrong questions and didn’t include enough respondents. Over in the House, it’s McKeon said he’s “been [in Washington] long enough to know that when you rush things through or jam something through without . . . giving people a chance to really flesh things out and really look at issues in depth, you make some big mistakes.” Unlike McCain, McKeon never served in military. But as the future House Armed Services Committee chairman, he’ll soon be in a position with considerable influence over issues like DADT.
McCain hopes that “everyone will recognize that this debate is focused on our military and its effectiveness, not on broader social issues being debated in our society at large.” McCain and McKeon’s outdated responses show how out of step they are with the rest of the country. There’s more than readiness and bureaucratic proceduralism at stake here. A military that is tasked with enforcing freedom and equality around the world but doesn’t require the same discipline of itself is a walking, talking, gun-toting hypocrisy. There’s no gray area here.