How many times during the Bush administration did we hear John McCain and other members of the GOP tell the American people that military leaders should never be questioned when it comes to military matters? Bush turned the entire Iraq War over to Gen. Petraeus so that he could deflect all criticism away from the White House as much as possible. How many times have I ever used video of Joe Lieberman to defend a morally just position? That's how disturbing the fight against the repeal of DADT has become.
What we found out at today's hearing is that when a Democratic President is in office, the GOP has no respect for the decisions made by our military leaders.
It's important that we be 100 percent clear on what happened at this morning's Senate hearings on Don't Ask Don't Tell. Military leaders essentially pleaded with GOP Senators to support repealing DADT, arguing that the failure to do so would put the state of our military at serious risk.
Remarkably, despite this clear plea, many Republican Senators still appear unwilling to allow the military leadership's request to do what they believe is right by our military to be a serious factor in their thinking.
In his testimony this morning, Defense Secretary Robert Gates put this as clearly as you could ask for. He noted that the courts are getting more involved in DADT, and said he worried that if the courts abruptly overturn the policy, it could leave the military leadership utterly incapable of responding without harming the armed forces.
"We would have zero time to prepare," Gates said. "No time to train. No time to prepare. That is the worst imaginable outcome as far as I'm concerned, and has very high risk to the force." By contrast, Gates said, if Congress repeals DADT, it would afford him more control over the timetable, allowing him to monitor the impact of repealing the policy and to adjust accordingly.
The bottom line message from these military leaders to GOP Senators couldn't be clearer: Please repeal this policy, so we can carry out repeal in a judicious, careful way, before the courts force us to do it in a rushed and haphazard manner, potentially harming our military.
Obviously, the civilian leadership is 100 percent responsible for making policy decisions such as these. Senators are right to subject the claims of military leaders to serious skepticism and scrutiny, and they should be regarded as purely advisory.
But what's striking is that their views on the matter don't seem to be much of a factor in the thinking of many GOP Senators. Indeed, none of them at the hearing even contested what these military leaders said about courts and the various timetables at play. Yet these Senators still appear adamantly opposed to repeal.
I do believe Congress should question the military leadership at all times, especially during a time of war, but the hypocrisy coming out of the mouths of McCain and other GOP politicians is as revolting as ever. If Gates asked for 100,000 more troops to go into Afghanistan, McCain would be out there begging for the President to listen to his military leaders, but when it comes to basic human rights and decency there's an emptiness that occupies his entire being.
UPDATE: Lieberman can't do one good deed without acting like the jerk he usually is. He's doing as much as he can to attack Wikileaks. Glenn Greenwald has the details