Just Wrong

Published: December 6, 2010

By Jim Lichtman
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I say this with all due respect for his service above and beyondthe call of duty to this country: I am deeply disappointed in the senior United States Senator from Arizona, John McCain.

For the John McCain who served his country with distinction in the Vietnam War, nearly lost his life in a fire aboard the U.S.S. Forrestal, was captured and endured torture at the hands of the North Vietnamese, went on to serve two terms in the U.S. House of Representatives before being elected to the Senate, my admiration for that John McCain is unwavering.

My admiration continued when I watched as he traveled around the country in his “Straight-Talk” express and told us the truth about politics, the country and what we needed to do to get back on track… until that same John McCain pulled up in front of the White House, performed a perfect 180 and fully supported the reelection of a man whose policies he earnestly, fervently, and credibly campaigned against.

That was the beginning of my loss of faith in Senator McCain.

Then, in spite of his own war experience and heartbreakingly compelling essay speaking out against the use of torture against all enemies of this country, he capitulated to the Bush administration by not taking a more forceful stand when circumstances called for it.

And now…

In spite of a Pentagon report showing that most troops and their families believe that gays and lesbians be allowed to openly serve in the military; in spite of direct testimony from Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Michael Mullen, the senior Senator from Arizona continues his stance against the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

“In the almost 17 years since the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ legislation was passed, attitudes and circumstances have changed,” former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Powell said in a statement issued by his office. “I fully support the new approach presented to the Senate Armed Services Committee this week by Secretary of Defense Gates and Admiral Mullen.”

The clearest and most concise piece of ethical common sense in response to this question came from Independent Senator and McCain friend, Joe Lieberman: “It’s just wrong and un-American to discriminate against people based on their sexual orientation.”

The newly elected junior Senator from Massachusetts, Scott Brown, a lieutenant colonel and a J.A.G. lawyer in the Army National Guard recalled a visit he made to Walter Reed Army Hospital where he “saw a soldier who lost both his legs, lost an arm and lost most of another arm, doing crunches… to try to get his torso strengthened enough so he could still have a viable… and fulfilling life.”  Brown said that he didn’t care if that man and so many others like him were gay or straight.

Senator Brown clearly recognizes the ethics and the reality of repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

Senator McCain’s wife, Cindy, and his daughter, Meghan clearly recognize the ethics and reality of repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

And, just as clearly, I’m witnessing yet another example of a much respected war hero, U.S. Representative and Senator who has either grown too old, too out-of-step or both to stand-up and be counted when it’s needed most.

While I wish you well, Senator you’re wrong and I hope you have a profound change of heart soon.


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