Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made history Tuesday afternoon when he told the Senate Armed Services Committee that not only does the president support the repeal of the policy but that Mullen himself supports it as well. "No matter how I look at this issue, I cannot help but be troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens," Mullen said. "For me, personally, it comes down to integrity—theirs as individuals and ours as an institution." Defense Secretary Robert Gates, testifying alongside Mullen, didn't get quite so personal, but agreed that the law should be repealed. (Slate)Pretty impressive. Not so impressive: John McCain, who is moving away from his promise to follow the military's lead. Not surprising, but annoying that the man who carried the mantle of honor and integrity is just a hypocrite. Of course, he makes up for that by being a lousy campaigner.
I question the timing because this is happening after Obama has blown most of his political capital, but it does play to his base quite well, even if late. Even though it will take a while, it is starting to look that the end of Don't Ask, Don't Tell is inevitable. Fighting two wars while tying one's hands makes little sense, but elevating an issue that will cause the Republicans to become even more narrow and driving away more independents is perhaps good strategy. Public opinion is trending towards reforming this dishonest and destructive policy. Already majorities seem opposed to the status quo. But getting anything through the Senate will be a challenge, given the rewards of obstinancy.
The slate piece cited above explains this all quite well. The good news is that there seems to be some movement and it looks Jack was right at least once: "Nothing's irreversible."