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Trumanesque

February 3, 2010

Yesterday the Senate held its first hearing in 17 years on the abhorrent “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law.  About damn time.  During the SOTU, I clapped out loud (yes, even all by myself in my apartment) when President Obama pledged to work with Congress to repeal the law this year.  The policy, in a word, sucks.  I know, artfully put but it’s the truth.  I’ve worked with folks that have been discharged under DA/DT, and there is nothing good about it. 

And yet, under the guise of security concerns and cohesiveness, there are some lawmakers who claim that now is not the right time, being as we are in the middle of two wars, etc.  This, dear readers, is nothing but bigotry in sheep’s clothing.  Enter, stage left, Presidential-runner-up-who-still-goes-on-the-Sunday-shows-more-often-than-any-other-person-who-actually-lost Senator McCain.  There, right in front of the senators the Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mike Mullen said repealing DA/DT is the “right thing to do.”  Here is runner-up McCain’s response.  I think he really just doesn’t like teh gay.  This must have gone over really well.

Other good recaps of the hearing are here, here, and here.  Honestly, I’m a bit bummed it’ll take a year, but I’d rather they do this right so when it happens, the haters are the ones left out and there is no residual “told you so.”

One comment that struck me from the hearing came from Senator Burris.  I know, don’t get comfortable, I probably won’t be referencing him a whole lot.  But, he did manage to make a great point when he said this kind of repeal needs the “audacity of Truman.”  Ah, Truman and the integration of the armed forces.  The timeline of Truman’s actions should actually remind folks that these sorts of actions, when the standard operating procedure has been discrimination, do take time to get it right.  Yes, I know that gay folks have been in the military as long as there has been a military.  But when you have an organization built on tradition, change can come slowly. 

So when Truman issued his executive order in July of 1948, he immediately got blowback from Army staff officers, General Omar N. Bradley (by the way, he gets a reference in A League of the Their Own, any guesses on the comparison to which character?  Anyone?  Yup, Marla Hooch- what a hitter!), and Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force. 

The hearings on integrating the forces didn’t come until the beginning of 1949, 6 months after the executive order was issued.  These hearings lasted the winter and spring of 1949, and it’s not until the early 1950s that all branches of the military had approved integration plans.  The Army, maybe not surprisingly considering who objected most vociferously in the first place, was last to have an approved plan.  But you know when the Army finally began integrating, albeit unofficially?  Yup, the damn Korean War!  Someone should remind second-place McCain.

Extra special bonus coverage of the masterful Obama v. GOP Friday event in Baltimore, right here.  I read the transcript at the WaPo, and it puts in stark relief how much more informed/intelligent/thoughtful Obama is than just about any other politician that is slapping his hand away.

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