There's a lot to like about Marines. They're bright people, loyal to the Corps, strong-minded and elite warriors. Most of them are more well-versed on military history than the majority of Army soldiers. And yet, when they latch onto a bad idea,
November 9, 2010


There's a lot to like about Marines. They're bright people, loyal to the Corps, strong-minded and elite warriors troops. Most of them are more well-versed on military history than the majority of Army soldiers. And yet, when they latch onto a bad idea, they will stubbornly refuse to consider that they made a really bad decision in the first place. And so we watch as General James Amos, newly minted commandant of the Marine Corps, follows his predecessor in saying that the Marines aren't ready for "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

In comments to reporters in California this weekend, General Amos said that ending the ban in the middle of two wars would involve “risk” for Marines, who, unlike other service members who generally have private quarters, share rooms to promote unity. “There is nothing more intimate than young men and young women — and when you talk of infantry, we’re talking our young men — laying out, sleeping alongside of one another and sharing death, fear and loss of brothers,” said General Amos, 63. “I don’t know what the effect of that will be on cohesion. I mean, that’s what we’re looking at. It’s unit cohesion, it’s combat effectiveness.”
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen effectively rebuked General Amos when he told reporters in Melbourne, Australia, “I was surprised by what he said and surprised he said it publicly.” Admiral Mullen, who supports repeal, also called General Amos on Sunday night to speak directly with him about the comments, said General Amos’s spokesman, Maj. Joseph M. Plenzler. Major Plenzler said he did not know the tone of the call or specifics about the conversation.

Mr. Gates, in his own comments to reporters en route to security and diplomatic talks in Australia, said, “I would like to see the repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ but I’m not sure what the prospects are and we’ll just have to see.”

Someone needs to show Gen. Amos this 1993 RAND report that suggested that the presence of homosexuals in police and firefighter organizations within the United States, as well as in foreign militaries, did not in fact cause any losses of unit cohesion or trust. These points are probably irrelevant to him and others who continue to stubbornly refuse to listen to the majority of the United States citizens who believe that it's time to repeal this act. DADT is going to go away, despite the slow-roll approach being implemented by DOD leadership. But as Kevin Drum notes, the real villains are the Republican politicians who are ignoring their own constituency and the Dem politicians who are ready to roll over and play dead on this issue.

Democratic spinelessness on this is worth mocking. But let's get real: the problem isn't with Senate Democrats, 97% of whom voted to repeal DADT in September. The problem is with Republicans, 100% of whom voted against repeal even though, as the Gallup poll above shows, repeal is favored by 60% of Republicans, a majority of conservatives, the Secretary of Defense, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

100%. Not one single Republican was willing to buck the tea party hordes and vote for DADT repeal. Even Susan Collins of Maine, the only Republican who publicly supports repeal, concocted a transparently bogus excuse not to vote for it.

Democrats may not be profiles in courage here, but they aren't the villains on DADT repeal. They just aren't. Republicans are. They're willing to unanimously filibuster funding for the military in order to pander to the small percentage of their own party that thinks gay people are icky. And they'll keep doing it, too. They don't care about the military report due in December and they don't care whether DADT repeal would actually affect military readiness in any way. They'll defund the entire Pentagon if that's what it takes to keep the tea partiers happy. They're the enemies of national security here, not Democrats.

But somehow, I think that message will get lost in the debate on the Hill. The Dems are just that stupid and afraid that they can't see the opportunity that's been handed to them: to demonstrate how out of touch the Republican leadership really is.

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