Since President Obama announced his intent to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in this year’s State of the Union Address, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) — who had previously said that he was open to considering repeal if the military carefully studied the consequences of such a policy change– has vocally opposed lifting the ban. But his objections transcended mere policy disagreements. At every step of the way, the senior Senator of Arizona acted as a thorn in the Democrats’ back, complaining about the normal time constraints of Senate hearings and implying that the military leadership supported repeal because they were carrying out a partisan agenda for the President.
From the very first DADT hearing in February 2010 to today’s session, the Senator refused to consider the views of the witnesses before him. This morning — after reviewing the overwhelming positive DADT report and listening to the pleas of the leaders to end the policy in the lame duck session — McCain went further, openly implying that Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mike Mullen was not living up to the expectations of leadership because he did not ask the troops if they favored repealing the policy:
MCCAIN: Then why wouldn’t we just ask the question?
MULLEN: Because, I fundamentally sir, think it’s an incredibly bad precedent to ask them about, to essentially vote on a policy.
MCAIN: It’s not voting sir, it’s asking their views….Now I understand what your answer is. We would not ask their views on whether this policy should be changed or not, as the first question.
MULLEN: We’ve gotten in great part their views as a result of this survey.
MCCAIN: Well obviously, we’ll go around and around, but why we didn’t just simply ask them how they felt about it….Again, every great leader I’ve known has said, what are your views on this issue?
Significantly, all of the leaders in front of the commission — Mullen, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and Working Group chairmen Defense Department General Counsel Jeh C. Johnson and Army Gen. Carter F. Ham — disagreed with McCain’s approach of polling the troops about the policy. “I can’t think of a single precedent in American history of doing a referendum of the american armed forces on a policy issue,” Gates said, asking, “are you going to ask them if they want 15 month tours, are you going to ask them if they want to be part of the surge in Iraq?” McCain didn’t name a single “great leader” who favored a referendum.
For a complete run down of McCain’s top 11 positions on the issue, click HERE.