Tim Pawlenty (R-MN), former Minnesota governor and potential presidential contender, has already expressed his desire to bring back the military’s open service ban “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” but now he’s gone one step further telling a forum at an Iowa Christian high school on Monday that military leaders in combat units don’t support the repeal and that rescinding funds for the repeal is something he feels would be a “reasonable step.”
Watch the video courtesy of Think Progress below:
Pawlenty ignores several points with this stance. Here are just a few things he raises that perhaps should be explored:
First, the military is not a democracy, so this often banded about meme that the Pentagon repeal survey failed because not everyone agreed with the repeal or that it didn’t ask troops directly on whether the policy should be repealed or not is simply redundant after the fact that the working study found there would be little fallout from repealing the policy based on respondents’ answers to a whole range of questions concerning unit cohesion and open service.
Second, Pawlenty even admits that the survey showed a majority of respondents were positive or neutral about the repeal and, at around 70%, the number is considerably higher than a “slight majority” as Pawlenty mistakenly calls the figure. Further to this, the report found that 92% of those servicemembers who said they had served alongside a gay person also responded that they did not consider the gay servicemember’s presence to have created any problems for unit cohesion. More on the results of the study here.
Third, among those most staunchly opposed to the repeal was General James F. Amos, USMC, Commandant of the Marine Corps. Based on the survey, the Marines were among the most resistant to the change and Amos expressed these sentiments before Congress.
Since Obama signed the repeal legislation however, Amos has recorded a video saying, “I want to be clear to all Marines: We will step out smartly to faithfully implement this new law.” Later in the video he adds that he expects the Marines to behave with the professionalism synonymous with their service as the changes are made. You can watch that video here. Clearly, while Amos unequivocally may have opposed the repeal, he feels that now the decision has been made by military leaders and the Commander in Chief it is his duty to carry it forward and has said as much. The matter is closed for General Amos, as it is for others serving in the military—so what, then, is Pawlenty’s issue?
Fourth, he would waste legislative time to defund the measure when Congress, with several Republicans crossing party lines to support the repeal, already decided the issue.
Fifth, putting aside the huge waste of talent and resources the DADT policy imposed upon the military, the Government Accountability Office has estimated that the open service ban cost $193.3 million between 2004–2009. The price of arbitrary discrimination is high but Pawlenty seems willing to have the country keep on paying.
Last, the DADT policy has been ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge. This case is currently being appealed before the 9th Circuit, however the appellate court recently refused the Obama administration’s application to have the suit dismissed. While the court did not give a reason, one can certainly say that the constitutionality of the DADT policy remains in question and that, while the policy is still in effect until repealed sometime this year, the issue can not be ignored.
Pawlenty’s grandstanding over the repeal is in itself mostly toothless, however as a potential presidential nominee his transparent pandering to the far right should be a red flag.
Photo used under the Creative Commons Attribution License, with thanks to marcn.
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