The blogger over at Opinions and More takes issue on my remark about John McCain turning into Jesse Helms:
Dennis Sanders is a blogger who usually posts things with whom I agree. But about a week ago he posted a piece in which he accused John McCain of becoming Jesse Helms. And I have to say I think this is unfair. The thing is gthat Dennis Sanders is gay, makes no secret about this, and, I think, has made the mistake of judging McCain on his stand on the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal. But McCain is a military man. He was a high-ranking Naval officer, and bears the name of his father and grandfather, both of whom were even higher-ranking Naval officers, and I think he views this issue from the vantage point of Naval tradition. Perhaps, considering that McCain’s predecessor as an Arizona Senator, Barry Goldwater, took a more enlightened view of gay rights, McCain’s position is unfortunate, but I think that it is understandable, though it would be a good thing if he could change it. But to make McCain into another Helms is totally unfair.
I will admit that my saying McCain is another Helms was a hyperbole and I shouldn’t have said it. That said, I don’t think it is unfair to judge McCain because of his stance on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell or should I say his changing stance. You see, I think that’s what has upset a lot of folks: in 2006 he stated that if the military said that if the leadership of the military came forward and asked him to drop DADT, he would support it. Earlier this year when Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen came foward and DADT need to go, McCain wasn’t ready to support their move:
In response, McCain declared himself “disappointed” in the testimony. “At this moment of immense hardship for our armed services, we should not be seeking to overturn the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy,” he said bluntly, before describing it as “imperfect but effective.”
Politifact notes that his stance on gays in the military is a “full flop” meaning he flip-flopped on the issue.
Maybe it’s wrong to consider McCain a full-fledged bigot or “anti-gay.” That said, it’s hard to give him the benefit of the doubt, when he has basically changed his stripes on the issue.
I will say that I know a lot of gay folks who really respected McCain because he at least appeared to be somewhat supportive of gay folks. While there are many who are thankful for people like Susan Collins, who have worked to repeal DADT, McCain was admired because he was a military man who was willing to consider repealing this law. His shifting stance was seen as a betrayal and made a lot of gay Republicans and conservatives look like fools.
I also need to remind Bruce that there are gay men and women who already serve in the armed forces. Shouldn’t they be respected and allowed to serve openly? Do they matter?
I don’t think John McCain hates gay people. But for whatever reason, he is supporting a law that I think is unfair, and sadly history will judge him as blocking equality. That might not make him anti-gay, but it does make him less honorable in my book.