Why Should John McCain Care What Gay Soldiers Think About DADT?

When Arizona’s Sen. John McCain visits the troops in Afghanistan — not just the straight or the gays ones — he thanks all of them for their service. And just because he’ll have a say as to whether DADT is repealed, it’s not like he feels any obligation for speaking to homosexuals about it. Ladies and gents, prepare yourselves for McCain’s biggest stumbling on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in, well, probably just a few hours.

“I make that determination [that DADT is working] by retention and recruitment is at an all-time high, the highest in the history of the all-volunteer force,” says McCain, oblivious to the fact that other factors — 9/11, unemployment rates — might play a factor in both of these things. “I get that opinion because I visit with the troops all the time. I go to Iraq, I go to Afghanistan, I run into them everywhere. And of course I don’t seek out someone who is gay. Why should I? These are all men and women who are serving. Why should I, that would be nuts. I go up to men and women and I say thanks for serving. I say thank you for serving, you are great Americans, God bless you.”

Other indicators McCain might be just as out of touch as you thought? During a sit-down with the Arizona Star‘s editorial board, he uttered things like …

• “Now the military is an organization that is designed for one purpose and one purpose only, to fight and win wars. That’s the only reason why we have a military.” (What about peacekeeping, national security, and trying to avoid killing people?)

• “That’s why we need to review the policy and find out what the effect is on the military and their battle effectiveness. That’s why we need an extensive review and listen to the commandant of the Marine Corps who says it should not be repealed. Listen to the men and women in the field, listen to the families of those who are serving rather than fulfill a campaign promise. Now the reason why the president declared this is because it was a campaign promise, not because our military is hurting, not because we’re having difficulties in the military.” (Unbeknownst to McCain, the military is spending hundreds of millions of dollars training gay servicemembers it could dismiss at the drop of a hat, and that sounds like something that could hurt things.)

• “Well, according to polls, I think that the overwhelming majority of members of the military support it. So I’m sure I can find people who don’t like any policy that the military has. But the majority of the members of the military strongly support it, and they worry about battle effectiveness if they change the policy. That’s why we have to have a thorough and complete review before we change the policy. And that’s what I said two years ago and that’s what I said two weeks ago and that’s what I said yesterday and that’s what I said today. We need a thorough and complete review before we change the policy and its impact on battle effectiveness and listen to the members of the military, not just because we are fulfilling a campaign promise by then-candidate Obama.” (Military decisions have always been democratic, right?!)

• “As Colin Powell said when don’t ask, don’t tell was first inaugurated, there’s a difference between sexual preference and the color of one’s skin. That was General Powell’s statement. [Star: That was years ago.] He was in favor of it, and now he’s come out … for the repeal. Yeah. I think what he said then still holds true today, that it is a different issue. I think Colin Powell wants to repeal don’t ask, don’t tell. I don’t think he views it now as a civil rights issue, though.” (Hmm, you should probably ask him about that. But is that your professional or your personal opinion?)

• “Well, if the president finds out at the end of the day after the review that it’s working and an important policy that can be maintained, that he would maintain the policy. I think that’s fair.” (And if the review finds DADT should not be maintained?) “I’m not going to deal and hypotheticals as to what would come out.”