Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 3, 2010

POWELL BACKS DADT REPEAL.... About a decade ago, Sen. John McCain was asked why he still supports "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." He said he backs it because Colin Powell supports it. In 2006, McCain was asked the same question. He replied, "I listen to people like Gen. Colin Powell."

Is that so.

Gen. Colin L. Powell, who as the nation's top military officer in the 1990s opposed allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military, switched gears today and threw his support behind efforts to end the "don't ask, don't tell" law he helped shepherd in.

"In the almost 17 years since the 'don't ask, don't tell' legislation was passed, attitudes and circumstances have changed," General Powell said in a statement issued by his office. He added: "I fully support the new approach presented to the Senate Armed Services Committee this week by Secretary of Defense Gates and Admiral Mullen."

For those keeping score at home, there are now three chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff -- the current chairman, Adm. Mike Mullen, along with retired Gens. John Shalikashvili and Powell -- who agree that it's time to end this absurd policy. Two of the three were appointed by Republican presidents.

They're joined by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who was originally brought on to head the Pentagon by the Bush/Cheney administration.

Whether this shift helps change public attitudes remains to be seen -- polls tend to show fairly broad support for dropping the DADT policy -- but either way, when the Commander in Chief calls for this kind of change, and he's backed by so many high-profile military leaders, it makes conservatives' job that much more difficult.

Powell's endorsement should help seal the deal, and coming on the heels of yesterday's Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, common sense on this issue seems to have all the momentum.

Steve Benen 1:15 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (16)

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Comments

I'm sure McCain will find another justification for his small-mindedness. They always find a way.

Posted by: Rochester on February 3, 2010 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

Curious that Al, our Good Friend and Distinguished Colleague, is silent on this topic.

Could the rumors be true? Concerned citizens ask. . .

Posted by: DAY on February 3, 2010 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

It's about damn time! (IADT)

Posted by: short fuse on February 3, 2010 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

McCain is running in the Senate primary of a political party that has been overrun by idiots and thugs. End of story.

Posted by: Ted Frier on February 3, 2010 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

McCain is engaged in the standard Republican play called "moving the goalposts." Why, now he won't stand for the repeal of DADT until he gets a personal phone call from Jesus Christ saying it's OK!

Posted by: Gaia on February 3, 2010 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

John Sidney McCain (The Third of the line) has turned off his hearing aid.

Posted by: exlibra on February 3, 2010 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

If McCain continues down this forgetfulness lane he would do well to offer a community-based instructional course titled:

Face Painting with Eggs!

-Kevo

Posted by: kevo on February 3, 2010 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

Not that public attitudes or for that matter redneck military paranoia should matter all that much in the case of granting equal rights to all citizens.
Has anyone clarified whether the year of studying the issue is supposed to be to figure out changes in whatever military codes apply, and how to implement the new policy etc., or studying whether to do it at all? It seemed a little ambiguous.
I remember watching some of the hearings the last time around. Specifically, a woman military person (I think a Mormon) who talked about the horror of the possibility gay people living next door to her family. I remember thinking, try living in the real world lady. And some Senator or Rep on a submarine talking to sailors saying ooooo look at how close you have to sleep to each other. You guys sure wouldn't want a queer sleeping next to you, would you? Are we to expect more of that kangaroo court style of investigation or what?

Posted by: emjayay on February 3, 2010 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

Haven't you been watching that little pissant McCain??? He NOW says the military is 'biased'...I know, they've been seduced by Pres. Obama...next thing will be...he must be GAY!

Posted by: SYSPROG on February 3, 2010 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

colon blow powell ???

who gives a sh*t what Mister Lie to the United Nations and do richard bruce 'dick' cheney's bidding in order to illegally and war criminally invade and occupy Iraq and steal its Oil has to say about ANYTHING !?!?!?!?

Posted by: colon blow on February 3, 2010 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

At the time, I thought DADT was reasonable - not on policy grounds, but political ones. Remember, back then the animosity towards gays was fierce - and quite commonly violent. The right was astonishingly mean-spirited on the issue. (Yes, even by today's Glenn Beck standards.) DADT seemed like a reasonable 'cooling off' step in the right direction.

I also thought the military had a good reason to drag their feet on this, but somehow never made the case: They were riding herd over people who were probably at the most homophobic phase of their young lives in the above mentioned toxic environment. That said, I never expected DADT to last 1/2 as long as it has. All I can say now is that it's long past time to take the next step.

Posted by: JoeW on February 3, 2010 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

Public attitudes have changed on Colin Powell, also. Now regarded as a wimp and team player who goes along to get along.

Posted by: Luther on February 3, 2010 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

Common sense is remarkably uncommon in the GOP, where the only momentum belongs to inertia.

Posted by: d4winds on February 3, 2010 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, contrary to what a lot of us here at WM might think of him, Colin Powell is probably still thought of as the nice reasonable kind of black General guy they read about in a cover profile in Parade magazine back in the day by the majority of our fellow citizens. Namely, the ones who need swaying on this issue. Which makes his statements on DADT matter. Not that civil rights should...blah blah.

Posted by: emjayay on February 3, 2010 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

Senator McCain is still ambivalent toward the Don't fart, don't smell policy on the house floor. When you deal in bullshit there is always an odor regardless.

Posted by: Slap your Trollop! on February 3, 2010 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

"Public attitudes have changed on Colin Powell, also. Now regarded as a wimp and team player who goes along to get along."

If by "Public attitudes" you mean "my tiny circle of friends", then sure, I'll go along with that.

As for the perception held in the real world, I would argue that Colin Powell is still looked at with respect and high regard by a good majority of Americans.

Posted by: 2Manchu on February 3, 2010 at 10:51 PM | PERMALINK
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