Six more years of this shit.
For years, John McCain has been the Walter Matthau of Congress: A grumpy old man who hates so much and for so long it's unlikely a man of that age even remembers why. The man who'd once made the word "maverick" a brand name has merely become, in the twilight of his political career, just another arch neocon who's emerging a decade late from the ashes of his failed presidential campaign.
McCain's jeremiad against the repeal of DADT was a fascinating glimpse of not just a mind stubbornly clinging to its own deterioration but a mindset that is at increasingly starker odds with the slowly changing mindset even within his own party. Fellow southwestern Republican senator John Ensign, proud Promise Keeper of C Street, said it was time to end the discrimination of gay soldiers.
Fancy that: John McCain arguing to keep in place a Clintonian bill that was once derided as effete and liberal, a bill that was a compromise of a compromise from the start and one that McCain actually opposed on the same grounds for which he'd demanded it be kept in place.
McCain in 1993 lambasted President Clinton for proposing the measure “without consulting the people we entrust with leading the country into battle. If there is any issue on which the president should have the advice of experts, it is this one."
Almost 18 years later, McCain now finds himself in the risibly hypocritical and antiquated position of using the same argument for DADT's perpetuation. By wasting Congress's time in moving the goalposts in poo-poohing and balderdashing the opinion of the Chairman of the Joints Chiefs and the Defense Secretary and many of their subordinates, McCain is completely responsible for Don't Ask, Don't Tell's delayed repeal, which still won't take effect for another two months.
Even arch conservative Barry Goldwater softened in his old age against gays serving in the military. This is what the late Sen. Barry Goldwater, who'd once sat in McCain's seat, wrote in the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. While I may disagree with the late Arizona senator on many, many matters, what he said years ago is at least as relevant today:
Everyone knows that gays have served honorably in the military since at least the time of Julius Caesar. They'll still be serving long after we're all dead and buried. That should not surprise anyone.
But most Americans should be shocked to know that while the country's economy is going down the tubes, the military has wasted half a billion dollars over the past decade chasing down gays and running them out of the armed services.
It's no great secret that military studies have proved again and again that there's no valid reason for keeping the ban on gays. Some thought gays were crazy, but then found that wasn't true. then they decided that gays were a security risk, but again the Department of Defense decided that wasn't so-in fact, one study by the Navy in 1956 that was never made public found gays to be good security risks. Even Larry Korb, President Reagan's man in charge of implementing the Pentagon ban on gays, now admits that it was a dumb idea. No wonder my friend Dick Cheney, secretary of defense under President Bush, called it "a bit of an old chestnut"
When the facts lead to one conlusion, I say it's time to act, not to hide. The country and the military know that eventually the ban will be lifted...
Some in congress think I'm wrong. They say we absolutely must continue to discriminate, or all hell will break loose. Who knows, they say, perhaps our soldiers may even take up arms against each other.
Well, that's just stupid.
There you have it. Barry Goldwater, author of Conscience of a Conservative, and arch neocon Dick Cheney, were against discrimination against gays in the military.
Where does that put John McCain?
Squarely in the middle of the 19th century, at best. And one almost swears that Goldwater must've seen McCain on the political horizon when he wrote, "Some in congress think I'm wrong. They say we absolutely must continue to discriminate, or all hell will break loose. Who knows, they say, perhaps our soldiers may even take up arms against each other."
McCain was making some bizarre, disconnected analogy of gays serving openly in the military to legless Marines in Walter Reed and the best argument he could seem to muster was that our brave heterosexual fighting forces' combat effectiveness would be compromised by the overriding suspicion that the guy next to them in the foxhole taking on enemy fire may have sucked someone's cock last night.
McCain's wife is against him. His daughter is against him. Members of his own party are against him. The Joint Chiefs Chairman is against him. The Defense Secretary is against him. Barry Goldwater and Dick Cheney are against him. And even the eternally fawning Washington press corps is tiring of his cranky old man persona. With McCain's violent wrench to the right, the only people who could possibly agree with him are other spittle-flecked homophobes such as Fred Phelps, Tony Perkins and James Dobson, hardly the kind of company one should willingly seek out.
And one is left to wonder what's in the drinking water in Arizona that made the voters elect this gadfly of everything humane and progressive to another six year term.