Arranged by hight at last night’s GOP Senate debate (see 2:00 on the video), the three Republican candidates hoping to unseat Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) condemned the the Senator for placing “special interests” ahead of the needs of the military in advocating for the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell:
– Treasury Department official David Malpass: “The military commanders have to have a huge say in this matter. And so I dont’ agree with Senator Gillibrand on her having the strong view coming from New York state, without the experience in the military….We now have General Petraeus in the Afghanistan war…I would be listening to him, rather than as a Senator injecting myself into that type of debate as strongly as Sen. Gillibrand has done.”
– Long Island attorney Bruce Blakeman: “The Generals and Admirals of our military asked for a year to review the policy and make a report to Congress. Senator Gillibrand, pandering to special interest groups, jumped the gun within two months that they asked for that time…I believe if the military leaders asked for a year to review the policy, then we should wait for that report.”
– Westchester Congressman Joe DioGuardi: “My feeling is we need to wait for them to give us their judgment and I would trust that judgment.”
Of course, the actual repeal amendment does accomodate the military’s ongoing study of DADT and would preserve the policy until the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Secretary of Defense and the President guarantee that it does not undermine military readiness. The country’s most prominent military leaders — including Gen. David Petraeus, have expressed support for this process, suggesting that they would like to end the failed policy.
But beyond that, in watching this exchanges, it’s difficult to get beyond their assumption that gay people — by their very nature — are so incredibly disruptive to military service that to embark on a parallel track of congressional action and military study is just unthinkable.