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Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Think

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Donald de Fano

In 1993, Bill Clinton, the original Democratic Triangulator-in-Chief, successfully got legislation enshrining the policy of Don't Ask, Don't Tell as a matter of law in the American Military. At the time, I remember being offended because I recognized that the legislation was clearly less a matter of policy than a political cop-out. In the almost two decades since, the arguments against the legislation have focused on the "nature" of homosexuality, and its intrinsic "dangers" in a military setting. Fortunately, the homophobic paranoia of 1993 is much diminished in 2010, and most observersknow that history will not be revisiting that social perspective in America any time soon, or, likely, ever. In this, as in much else, the John McCain's in our midst will eventually pass into well-deserved obscurity.

The good news is that we are probably on the brink of repealing this nonsense, but not with any gusto. The new Triangulator-in-Chief ridicules a heckler criticizing the pace of his advocacy in favor of repeal at the same time that he, the President, agrees to a "compromise," that will slow-walk implementation of the repeal to some indefinite future date, when the military has affirmed its ability to cope with the change. So much for the authority of the civilian head of the military.

What is really depressing about this exhibition of the futility of common sense in a political environment is that DADT is, and always was, a ridiculous concept even without regard to the matter of homosexuality. By explanation and practice, DADT is premised on the notion that any member of the military who thinks a certain way constitutes a danger to service morale, a danger so serious as to necessitate the removal of that individual from the service, should such thoughts become known. By contrast, if some soldier, somewhere, thinks his CO is an idiot, that soldier is in no jeopardy, though arguably he would potentially be a far greater threat to "unit cohesiveness" than an acknowledged homosexual. There is probably no institution in American better at proscribing the "behavior" of its members than the military. Why in the world would it need a unique "policy" with regards to the "thoughts" of one subset of its membership?

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I am a retired boatbuilder with a fascination for political thought. Most of my life I cheerfully described myself as an "eastern establishment, knee jerk, liberal Democrat."
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