Marriage may be on some ‘mo’s minds, but the presidential candidates have been focusing on the relevancy of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
While every Democratic has come out against the discriminatory military policy, it’s Senator Hillary Clinton‘s answer that may carry the most weight. Or at least the most political baggage. Clinton’s husband Bill did, after all, push for and sign Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell during his reign as president.
The issue came front and center during last night’s New Hampshire debates, during which CNN moderator and union leader Tom Fahey asked Senator Clinton, point blank, “Was President Clinton’s policy of “don’t ask/don’t tell” a mistake?”
Obviously uncomfortable, Clinton attempted to skirt around the issue, referring to Don’t Ask as a “transition” policy, which begs the question: “transition from what”? Freedom to total repression? Clinton goes on to express dismay that people used this “transition” policy to discriminate. What a shocker…
Moderator Wolf Blitzer then calls Clinton out, telling her she didn’t really address the question. Not one to be backed into a corner, Clinton does her best to pass the ball to Joe Biden. Read the entire awkward exchange, after the jump… .
[Tom Fahey]: Senator Clinton, you’ve said that it’s time to allow gays and lesbians to serve openly in the U.S. military and end the “don’t ask/don’t tell” policy that was implemented when your husband was president.
Was President Clinton’s policy of “don’t ask/don’t tell” a mistake?
CLINTON: It was a transition policy and it was an effort to try to deal with the reality that — probably since the very beginning of our nation we’ve had gays serving in our military with distinction and honor on behalf of our country, as we do today.
And yet I have watched how “don’t ask/don’t tell” has been implemented. And I’ve concluded that it is not the best way for us as a nation to proceed.
It has been in many instances implemented in a discriminatory manner. You know, after the first Gulf War there was a big flood of discharges of gays and lesbians because they let them serve and then after they finished the war, then they discharged them.
In this particular time period, we’ve had Arabic linguists discharged under “don’t ask/don’t tell” when we are unfortunately so short of having people who speak the very language that our men and women in uniform have to understand in the streets of Baghdad.
So I believe we could change the policy to let gays and lesbians serve in the military and be covered by the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
So just like those who are not gays and lesbians, if there were conduct problems, then the conduct problems we looked at. But people would not be judged on who they are.
BLITZER: All right.
CLINTON: And I just want to end by saying Barry Goldwater once said you don’t have to be straight to shoot straight. And I think he was right.
CLINTON: And I believe we should open up our military.
BLITZER: Senator Clinton, the question was: Was your husband’s decision to allow this “don’t ask/don’t tell” policy to go forward — he was president of the United States; he could have changed it — was it a mistake?
CLINTON: No, it was an important first step, Wolf. I mean, you know, there’s a certain — I want to go back to my friend Joe Biden…
BLITZER: All right.
CLINTON: Because he’s been around longer than any of us have in the Congress.
CLINTON: And you know, talking — he’s a young man. He started young. But talking about this as though there is a reality out there that a president or a Congress can change with a snap of a finger does a grave disservice to the American people.
We have a political process. There are checks and balances. And Joe remembers very well, the Congress was adamantly opposed at the time to letting gays and lesbians serve openly.
“Don’t ask/don’t tell” was the compromise policy.