Posted by Brad @ 11:00 am on November 29th 2007

Sorry folks, that question about gays in the military is invalid and should be disregarded

There are some things that I just plumb don’t care about, and other things that I don’t understand why ANYBODY cares about them.

To wit, I thought one of the best questions of the night in last night’s YouTube debate was from a retired army general, openly gay, asking the candidates about Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. It appropriately shamed the Republicans who answered it, and generally made them look like callous, pandering scoundrels.

It came to light very quickly afterwards that the retired general lent his name to a Hillary Clinton steering committee. He’s given no money to the campaign, and he was interviewed by CNN this morning and says he is indeed undecided, is a member of the Log Cabin Republicans, supports GOP candidates on occasion, and that while he agree to be on that steering committee list after a request from a friend, and because Clinton is good on gay issues, he’s done no work for the campaign and has donated no money to it. He said it didn’t even occur to him that this would be a problem, and at the end of the interview said he appreciated CNN’s desire to air all this for the sake of transparency.

Meanwhile, on Fox News at the same time, the story was running every 15 minutes or so, as the morning crew were gleefully expressing shock and outrage that CNN sucked so bad and that Hillary Clinton is such a manipulative bitch.

Apparently also, the fact of his affiliation makes his question invalid. Enough so that CNN has decided viewed should not be exposed to it.

CNN’s statement:

Following the debate, CNN learned that retired brigadier general Keith Kerr served on Clinton’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender steering committee.

CNN Senior Vice President and Executive Producer of the debate, David Bohrman, says, “We regret this incident. CNN would not have used the General’s question had we known that he was connected to any presidential candidate.”

Prior to the debate, CNN had verified his military background and that he had not contributed any money to any presidential candidate.

Following the debate, Kerr told CNN that he’s done no work for the Clinton campaign. He says he is a member of the Log Cabin Republicans and was representing no one other than himself.


I watched the CNN re-broadcast of the debate this morning from 3-5am (the joys of morning drive radio), and I kept waiting for Col. Keith Kerr’s question. He never showed up. CNN apparently deleted his entire appearance from the re-broadcast.

Thumbs up for the nod to journalistic integrity, but a big thumbs down for the incredible journalistic incompetence. CNN gave Hillary Clinton’s campaign five minutes of the GOP’s presidential debate. Will they give Lt. Col. (ret.) Ralph Peters five minutes of the Democratic debate?


To his great credit, Mitt Romney was asked about this by said Fox News morning crew, who asked him “Can you believe how terrible that was?” Mitt’s response was to shrug it off and say “It was just a question”.

There are times when partisan blinders get in the way of reason and common sense. Was there something wrong with the General’s question? Was he pushing a Clinton agenda? Should Republicans not have to deal with the incredible emotional suffering and distress caused by getting a tough question from somebody that’s not a party loyalist? Should Americans not be allowed to hear the candidate’s answers on this rather important issue because the guy asking it might be affiliated with a rival party? Do I have to listen to the Corner bitching about this for the next 36 hours?


  1. I agree with you that it’s not as big a deal as it’s being made out to be, but I do think the objection being raised is legitimate.

    The question should have been raised by somebody not affiliated with another campaign.

    Comment by Rojas — 11/29/2007 @ 11:46 am

  2. I don’t disagree with that. But I also agree with Captain’s Quarters.

    Comment by Brad — 11/29/2007 @ 11:50 am

  3. Wow. Yet another perfect example of why I read CQ. Deserving of one of Sully’s Yglesias Awards.

    Comment by Jack — 11/29/2007 @ 3:31 pm

  4. This might as well go here.

    Now, I’m no particular fan of Paul, but if you sift through to the ‘Gays in the Military’ question (4 min 8 seconds), you have for me the perfect answer to this question, and one that I want to hear more of in the debates.

    Comment by Mark — 11/29/2007 @ 6:39 pm

  5. Mark,
    No, its not. And Brad and I have had this conversation before, at great length:
    Scroll through the comments.
    I don’t want to rehash the entire comment thread, but:
    What is the very first thing he says in response to the question: “I think the current policy is a decent policy.” Yes, what he says after that sounds great, but exactly how do you square that with thinking the current policy is a decent policy? His answer would have been brilliant if he had started with “yes, its time to get rid of DADT, and here’s why…” But he did NOT. He is in support of DADT. Or, as Brad likes to believe, he simply does not understand what DADT requires/states.

    Comment by Jack — 11/29/2007 @ 7:58 pm

  6. Well, for me it actually is.

    I don’t see DADT as a desperate problem.

    Sure, I don’t see it is as a great solution either, but I see Paul’s angle.

    DADT goes 2 ways. straight and gay. Sexuality isn’t and shouldn’t be a question on the table for the military (just as it isn’t in industry either). People should be rated on merit / ability, and inappropriate behaviour is just that.

    Making allowances for sexuality is wrong. In that way, Paul mirrors my feelings.

    Comment by Mark — 11/29/2007 @ 8:11 pm

  7. Why does a problem have to be desperate to justify remedy? Why dodge based upon that? It either is or is not unjust. It either is or is not incompatible with equal access and protection under the law. It either is or is not a free, fair, and liberty oriented policy.

    Everything you said in your para/sentence 3 is absolutely correct, and absolutely in contradiction with DADT. Do you honestly not know what DADT requires? If you are “out” then you will be investigated and discharged. How is that at all compatable with merit and ability evaluation? As I have told Brad, the ONLY possible way I can reconcile your positions, and thus RP’s as well, is if you are naively proposing that the military should investigate and discharge ANY instance of pre-marital sex. Aside from the puritanical ludicrousness of such an idea, from a practical standpoint it is unworkable.

    Comment by Jack — 11/29/2007 @ 11:53 pm

  8. You do realize that I am counting on that particular English quality of allowing rabid and aggressive dinner table conversation that will not result in hurt feelings. Can’t find Sullivan’s link, but I hope you know what I am talking about.

    Comment by Jack — 11/29/2007 @ 11:56 pm

  9. There is no right to be in the military. If it is deemed that homosexuality, when it is “out”, is damaging to unit cohesion then those that control the military are justified in discharging that individual. The same would go for pre-marital sex if they thought it was equally a concern.

    Comment by Coogan — 11/30/2007 @ 12:00 am

  10. By that standard, Coogan, one could just as easily discharge racial or religious minorities from the service.

    Of course BEHAVIOR disruptive to unit cohesion is grounds for dismissal. I’ve yet to hear a persuasive argument made that ORIENTATION ALONE is sufficient grounds for dismissal, which is the current policy. The militaries of every other nation in the world have managed to integrate open homosexuals into their services; I refuse to believe that American soldiers are inferior to those of our allies in terms of adaptability.

    Comment by Rojas — 11/30/2007 @ 1:23 am

  11. Coogan,
    1. “those that control the military” Hey, that’s us! A fundamental aspect of our republic: The military is subordinate to civilian authority. Civilian authority means both the civilian appointees (SecDef) and subordiantion to elected officials. The military is subject to laws passed and enacted by Congress. DADT is not just a military policy, it is a federal public law which directs the military to establish that policy.
    2. As Rojas states, your standard allows any discrimnation against any group so long as “it is deemed” by a nebulous “them” to be damaging to unit cohesion.
    3. I will go well beyond Rojas statement: It is not just orientation that must be permitted, for such a policy would imply that one can be “out” so long as you are celebate. No, it is the lifestyle as well, constrained only by the same regulations that apply to heterosexuals. Adultery, minors, relations within the chain of command, and sexual activity on duty are already clearly covered and forbidden.
    4. “The same would go for pre-marital sex if they thought it was equally a concern.” “They” don’t because they can’t. It is completely, ridiculously beyond the capability to address with anything short of a huge branch of military police specifically devoted to monitoring and tracking the consensual sexual activity of half of the military force. Purity Police. In which case our attrition and recruitment problems would explode. Additionally, “they” don’t because it is not a legitimate concern, just as consensual sexual activity between gays, constrained by the same restriction as on heteros, would not cause a problem. The standard has been completely politicized.

    Comment by Jack — 11/30/2007 @ 10:03 am

  12. The military simply doesn’t deal well in shades of grey at the lower levels, and thats possibly for the best.

    There are to my mind different ways of being ‘out’.

    DADT does not (from my reading that is), discriminate against gay people who are out in the sense, that they have come to terms with any confusion they had about a developing sexuality and have found their own way of navigating a path through societies sometimes hostile attitude to their lifestyle. DADT doesn’t stop them from pursuing same sex relationships outside of the pervasive environment of military life. It doesn’t to my knowledge stop them walking hand in hand with a loved one through their home town. If it does, I am happy to be corrected.

    What it does do is it stops someone from sharing a belief that could cause dissention where trust is paramount, and invites repurcussions in an environment that is deliberately clan-like and uniform.

    Sure this is unfair. Homosexuality isn’t the indicator that defines whether you can be a good or bad soldier (there have been after all, several elite sodomite fighting forces through our history), but until social mores create an environment where this is a non factor, the core of your forces need to be protected from divisive elements.

    This is not limited to homosexuality, but to women in combat units, women serving with men in combat units and zoophiles serving in the cavalry.

    DADT, Women in Combat et al are merely indicators of wider issues in our society, and simply not in the hemisphere of the military to address. Good soldiers will continue to get screwed over, but frankly, while sad in itself, I find it somewhat meaningless when set against the larger issue of the holistic well being of the AF.

    Comment by Mark — 11/30/2007 @ 11:32 am

  13. And as an addendum, reinstitute a draft, and we’d see an overnight change to DADT.

    Comment by Mark — 11/30/2007 @ 11:34 am

  14. Also, I would like to note, I got to say ‘Elite Sodomite Fighting Forces’ in a somewhat serious sentence.

    Not many can claim such a distinction.

    Comment by Mark — 11/30/2007 @ 2:58 pm

  15. Mark, you are simply mistaken. You have subsribed to a fairy tale view of DADT. If you have a gay relationship, you are required to hide it. The “holistic well being of the AF” is not served in the least by discrimnatory practices, it is cheapened by them. This is not exactly new territory for the military. See: That time we destroyed unit cohesion and moral by making white people serve with the coloreds. How did we address that? Oh yeah:

    “Sure it is unfair” but lets just keep it anyway based upon an undefinable or at best highly nebulous unit cohesion argument. How bout no. How bout moral courage to end it. I am particularly down on Senator Clinton, who is ideally positioned to address this as a memver of the Senate Armed Services Committee, but I am not the least bit satisified with Ron Paul’s self contradictory answer on this.

    Comment by Jack — 11/30/2007 @ 3:39 pm

  16. DADT prohibits a gay soldier from speaking about sexual orientation or sexual experiences between or across ranks. It prohibits commanders from investigating their sexual identity.

    It is enforcable only if the soldier exhibits “a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts”.

    Sexual orientation simply isn’t an impediment to membership in the military. Sexual behaviour is.

    I make no claim that this defensible from a moral standpoint.

    I disagree with your characterisation of the ‘unit cohesion’ argument as nebulous.

    I simply have no objections as regards to things being unfair in the military (as long as they are legal).

    Issues regarding said unfairness (social stigma) are not for the army to address when there is an arguable detriment to the AF (see above).

    These issues I feel need to be tabled outside the military. Read: once the leadership in America steps up and make a concerted effort to stamp on sexual discrimination outside the military, they should then be able make an executive order regarding gays in the military.

    I eagerly await the day.

    Comment by Mark — 11/30/2007 @ 4:27 pm

  17. Edit: supposed to read thus:

    I make no claim that this defensible from a moral standpoint in that it does not apply across the board to heterosexuals.

    Comment by Mark — 11/30/2007 @ 4:29 pm

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