Saturday, December 18, 2010

Strange Bedfellows

Gene Wilder and Harrison Ford in The Frisco Kid
“We’ve come to a point in our history, I hope, where neither race nor religion, ethnicity, or gender, or sexual orientation should deprive Americans of serving the country as the patriots they are.”  -- Sen. Joe Lieberman
"Today is a very sad day. . . When your life hangs on the line you don't want anything distracting it. Mistakes or inattention or distraction cost Marines' lives. I don't want to permit that opportunity to happen . . . "  -- Sen. John McCain

By a vote of 65-31, the Senate voted to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell, finally ending a 17-year old policy that forced gays and lesbians who wished to serve our country and put their lives on the line to stay in the closet.  Under DADT, 14,000 members of the armed forces had been forced to leave the ranks.  After the filibuster on repealing DADT was broken, President Obama lauded the Senate for taking this "historic step toward ending a policy that undermines our national security while violating the very ideals that our brave men and women in uniform risk their lives to defend."

I have loathed Joe Lieberman ever since Al Gore decided he needed to counter Clinton's sleaze by choosing this sanctimonious windbag as a running mate.  He was an awful VP candidate who played a significant role in Gore's failed strategy on the Florida recount.  Since then I have come to despise him even more.  Among other things, he was a staunch supporter for the Iraq war, outspoken and influential in opposing filibusters of Bush's controversial judicial nominees, and a tireless campaigner for John McCain in the 2008 election.  He also helped to undermine more expansive health care reform.  But, I've got to give Lieberman a lot of credit for his strong and skillful efforts to end DADT.  As Greg Sargent points out, he prodded moderate Republicans to come on board, kept the process moving, made critical public statements supporting repeal, and went a long way to counter the nonsense of his good friend John McCain.

McCain, on the other hand, is a pathetic bigot.  He was the most vocal opponent of repealing DADT in the Senate.  First, he said he needed to wait until the military brass supported repeal, and when they did, he needed to wait for the Pentagon's internal study; and when that the study demonstrated that most servicemembers are indifferent to gays and lesbians openly serving, this still wasn't good enough.  At this point, the great patriot and former military man threatened to filibuster the defense spending bill if the amendment repealing DADT wasn't stripped from the bill.  When DADT repeal became a stand alone bill, he continued to make completely specious and incoherent arguments that barely disguised his homophobia. His final nonsensical rant was that repeal would cost lives because having openly gay comrades would be distracting in combat.

For once we can celebrate that Congress did the right thing by defeating John McCain and the forces of discrimination.  The next thing we must do to honor these brave Americans is to bring them and their straight fellow servicemembers home.

[Related posts:  Holy @#$%^!, Lame and Lamer, What's With Arizona, More on DADT, Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Be Lame]


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