Santorum’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Stance Makes No Sense

October 3rd, 2011 at 2:00 pm | 65 Comments |

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President Obama, justifiably, has scored a few political points by criticizing Republican candidates for not standing up for a gay solider who asked a question at a debate or even thanking him for his service. In a sense, though, the entire situation is being blown out of proportion: the response to the question was a few scatted boos; not widespread revulsion from the audience.

What really deserves the most criticism isn’t the booing or even the lack of praise for the solidier but, rather, the answer incredibly dumb answer/statement that Rick Santorum made in response to the solider’s question. Here it is:

I would — I would just say that, going forward, we would — we would reinstitute [don’t-ask-don’t-tell, if Rick Santorum was president, period. That policy would be reinstituted. And as far as people who are in — in — I would not throw them out, because that would be unfair to them because of the policy of this administration, but we would move forward in — in conformity with what was happening in the past, which was, sex is not an issue. It is — it should not be an issue. Leave it alone, keep it — keep it to yourself, whether you’re a heterosexual or a homosexual.

Think about the consequences of Santorum’s policy: any negative side effects of having gays serving in the military (I don’t believe that there are any, but let’s grant that there are for the sake of argument) would last, basically, forever since there would be thousands of gay service members who would continue to serve openly.

On the other hand, Santorum’s policy would also bring back all of the negative consequences of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell: a decent percentage of the U.S. population would be turned away from military service, newly enlisted/commissioned individuals would have to hide their sexual identity and would risk their careers if they let their closest work colleagues in on any details of their personal lives. Thousands of people, likewise, would be kicked out of the military, literally, for nothing other than being themselves.

In short, Santorum–who, actually, is a lot more thoughtful and likable than he’s portrayed as being in the media–has proposed a “solution” that offers the military the worst of all possible worlds.

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65 Comments so far ↓

  • Fart Carbuncle

    This truly is a far left forum.

    A big majority of Christians do not believe that glorifying homosexuality is appropriate.

    As some did with the smarg poster, I’ll be attacked mercilessly.

    • andydp

      Frankly, I think you’re “Smarg” under another name. Same basic thought patterns without the overtly offensive language.

      Do you have any “proof” to back up your statement ? Like a survey or a poll ?

    • Ray_Harwick

      So, Christians are the victims?

    • Lonewolf

      Who, exactly, is “glorifying” homosexuality? These are perfectly legitimate question and observations about candidates’ policies regarding gays in the military. And since when did the mandate of the Armed Forces of the US become to enforce “Christian” values, be they about homosexuality or otherwise? When my cousin joined the Marines he swore to uphold the Constitution, not the Bible.
      If you think this particular forum is “far left”, then you have led a VERY sheltered life. Best you retreat to your jbs.com forum before you have an aneurism.

    • medinnus

      I don’t believe in glorifying it either.

      I do not, however, believe that homosexuals should be punished for their sexual orientation, which is what is trying to be remedied by the repeal of DADT (where if you were gay, you were summarily tossed from the service), and marriage equality (where the religious fascists would apply their own views over everyone, and ban gay families).

    • jakester

      Christian, what the eff does religion have to do with this? Is this a Christian blog? I am confused.

      • Anonne

        The Republican Party has become almost synonymous with evangelical Christianism.

        • jakester

          Ah yes, so even if you are a Jewish con, you have to pretend that Conservative Christians suffer more than the Jews did. One big pity party for the bible thumpers!

        • Anonne

          Jews tend to be socially liberal. Except on the subject of Israel, most Jews would probably line up with Democrats. And why is Israel the dividing issue? Because Zionist evangelical Christians make it so, this is the one area where Jews really overlap with Christians politically. You don’t see Jews working overtime to repeal Roe v. Wade, attack Planned Parenthood, etc.

    • DeathByIrony

      Firstly, this is a generally secular forum. While you may disagree, the grand majority of posters here do not consider divorcing politics from faith to be some grand heresy.
      Secondly, Smarg was posting some pretty distasteful racist vitriol.
      Frankly, Smarg was the living embodyment of Poe’s Paradox. I didn’t know if he was just really extreme, or presenting extreme satire.

    • Banty

      “A big majority of Christians do not believe that glorifying homosexuality is appropriate.”

      “Glorifying”??!?

      This is an example of that tolerance-as-long-as-’they’-accept-second-class-status line of thought discussed in other comment threads. Wanting anything else (like, y’know, equality) therefore appears as “special”, being “glorified”, whatever.

      The blog entry is right – Santorum’s statements during the debate, where he bungled and mumbled about “sex” was just plain inarticulate. It’s not about “sex” any more than it’s about “sex” for a heterosexual soldier. It’s about an untenable expectation that one set of soldiers hide away their relationships, while the other set, as is normal for the age group, pays great attention to their relationships,but them on display, and talk about them all the time.

    • JohnMcC

      Smarg was my crazy brother-in-law. He quit posting because my sister took his computer away until he gets a job.

    • Rob_654

      Exactly what is a “Christian”? in your mind?

      I see people bash the poor who call themselves Christians.

      I see people tell the sick that if they can’t afford healthcare they shouldn’t expect anyone else to pay for it call themselves Christians.

      I see people who proclaim wealth as a virtue and something to be sought out call themselves Christians.

      And yet Christ’s teachings were very clear on each of those topics and none of them are inline with the teachings of Christ.

      Funny how so many Christians have such a narrow view of what Christ taught, what he thought was important and what they focus so much energy on.

      But then again, nothing about Don’t Ask Don’t Tell glorifies homosexuality at all.

      But what is interesting is how much time, effort and thought these so-called Christians spend thinking of homosexuality and how much it disgusts them – now that is truly a case study to be done.

  • DifferentFrumer

    So, when a soldier basically asks these candidates what type of job security he’ll have if one of them gets elected, I’m going to stick my neck out and say this was a question about, you know, his pay check; his job security.

    But Santorum can only think about the sex and that’s where his response came from. He didn’t answer the question because his butt puckers up when he hears the word “gay”.

  • Carney

    So, Lehrer, you’re hooting and jeering at Santorum for proposing a compromise solution that grandfathers those let in under a policy he opposes and seeks to overturn? That’s what compromise looks like – it may be clunky and not satisfy our aesthetic desire for intellectual purity, but it’s what’s needed to get something through.

    As for DADT, I agree that the right has been stupid.

    DADT was not and never was the law. It was Bill Clinton’s effort to “implement” the law Congress passed with massive margins in 1993 to require a simple sweeping ban of all homosexuals in the military as a class regardless of conduct or discretion.

    In an effort to get through as much of the gay rights agenda as he could in 1993, Clinton evaded the clear intent and text of the law with his DADT executive order, and Congress and the conservative movement, exhausted by the battle, made the fatal mistake of not immediately confronting Clinton on it and forcing him to rescind the EO and implement the law as written.

    Then even more stupidly, the Right passively allowed the Left to immediately ratchet the Overton Window leftward, redefine DADT as the new extreme conservative position and make returning to the consensus, broadly supported pre Clinton policy somehow unthinkable and unmentionable. DADT ended up tailor made to produce camera friendly “victims” in uniform and helped with massive MSM bias chip away at the common sense consensus American position on no gays in the military.

    Even MORE stupidly, the Right let itself “own” DADT and defended it, usually with weak arguments about the military “not being ready” or the like conceding the left’s narrative about inevitable repeal. Rather than pushing back at the Left narrative, the Right hid behind the generals, totally ignoring the fact that over the years the left-leaning staff of the Senate Armed Services Committee and two Democratic Administrations systematically culled the careers of those not committed to the left social agenda, making it inevitable that a flag officer would be found to be named to a senior post and give the Left “cover” for its agenda by claiming it would be no problem.

    • MSheridan

      But why, Carney, should the Right care at all whether there are gays in the military or not? It isn’t from a standpoint of military effectiveness. It seems more as if those who want a ban would like the rest of us to accommodate their desire to live in some fantasy world in which gays don’t exist at all, or do so completely out of sight. It’s not as if heterosexual men and women are going to suddenly become homosexual because they are exposed to them, just as the reverse is not true. If it were otherwise, straight people wouldn’t be able to leave the house. It certainly isn’t out of religious revulsion (whatever some on the Right may think), as homosexuality is not any more proscribed in the Bible than extramarital sex, and I daresay the vast majority of serving soldiers have engaged in that.

      I have had a fairly significant number of gay friends in my life. One was a roommate. Not once did I feel that my heterosexuality or manhood was in any way at risk. If it had been, it would have perhaps been proof that I was less hetero than I had thought, but not of some nonexistent campaign to “corrupt” or convert me. I believe I understand (with difficulty, I admit) why some people oppose homosexuality in the abstract. What I cannot understand is why they would not want gays fighting and perhaps dying in the military.

      Unless it is just the objection of some straight men to the idea that some other men might sexually objectify them in their thoughts, in which case I think a certain amount of mockery is requisite. Women deal with that all their lives.

  • dante

    I have to say, the idea of thousands upon thousands of gay servicemen and women serving openly while thousands more have to be clandestine about it just because they enlisted after January, 2013 strikes me as hilarious. There’s NO way that would ever work…

  • zanerbrainer

    From the title, I thought this article was going to point out why Santorum’s answer REALLY doesn’t make sense:

    He’s saying that sex should not be an issue. Therefore we should resume a policy that is based on sex.

    Does this not bother anyone else? It’s not logical. It’s like saying we should revoke desegregation in order to make race a non-issue.

    • Carney

      What he was saying that combat units should be comprised of nothing but straight males, as has been the norm til recently. That permits the forging of espirit de corps, male bonding, etc. needed to form the iron-tight bonds of absolute trust needed in combat.

      Introducing women or gay men disrupts this, bringing in sexual tension, attraction, revulsion, and similar drama. Massive distraction in the form of jockeying for position and attention, favorable treatment or retaliation (or suspicion of the same) — all of it poisonous to unit morale. This isn’t like working in the Postal Service where you’re literally just shuffling paper, with union grievances etc. This is life or death, and whether you’re not merely a cohesive fighting unit but a band of brothers willing to die for each other.

      That such rock bottom basics need to be spelled out and explained is another example of the death of common sense and basic norms.

      Also, the sky is blue and the earth is round.

      • think4yourself

        You do know that is the exact same argument against Truman’s executive order desegregating the military? And believed just as passionately by it’s adherents – with the exact same lack of evidence.

        Rick Santorum doesn’t believe we should return to DADT. Rick Santorum believes that homosexuals are an abomination and unless they renounce their orientation they will burn in hell.

      • Ray_Harwick

        That was pretty much the explanation I heard from bigots who couldn’t work with black men in the service.

        • Lonewolf

          Same arguments used about women. Haven’t noticed any F-18s falling from the sky since we’ve started using female combat pilots. Funny – think it’s a Vast Conspiracy Of Silence imposed by the Leftwing Media and their Feminist Overlords?

        • Carney

          Read up on who Kara Hultgren was. Pushed along solely because she was a woman, despite failures that would have ended a man’s career. And yes her F-14 fell out of the sky.

          Read “Women in the Military: Flirting with Disaster”, “The Kinder, Gentler Military”, and other books. They detail facts such as hand grenades being weakened because women can’t throw them beyond their blast radius, “blue cards” enabling tearful recruits to suddenly flee from tough parts of basic training, etc. This is like living in a madhouse where everyone acts like it’s clam and normal. It’s late and right now I don’t have the time or energy to argue the blindingly obvious to the willfully foolish.

        • DeathByIrony

          The sum of anecdote is not fact, Carney.

      • medinnus

        You mean “its been the norm as far as we know, because we’ve made gay servicemen and women hide their sexual identity or be summarily discharged” – as the plethora of people “coming out” (and those who don’t feel safe coming out) show, they’ve been there all along.

        On the other hand, by giving them a blackmail-able secret, you have reduced the overall security of the armed forces.

      • jakester

        Thank you Carney for your down to earth POV. I guess the military is composed of selfless drones who bond perfectly with each other on every level but sexual and there are almost no personality or power problems in their small unit dynamics. A gay or a woman would just upset the perfect subconscious unity of these units. I get it.

      • lilmanny

        What he was saying that combat units should be comprised of nothing but straight males, as has been the norm til recently. That permits the forging of espirit de corps, male bonding, etc. needed to form the iron-tight bonds of absolute trust needed in combat.

        Introducing women or gay men disrupts this, bringing in sexual tension, attraction, revulsion, and similar drama. Massive distraction in the form of jockeying for position and attention, favorable treatment or retaliation (or suspicion of the same) — all of it poisonous to unit morale.
        -Carney

        Was that your experience when you were in the military? I’m also curious in what era you served (Vietnam, the mid-80s, Gulf War, Iraq?) or what branch. I think each branch has its own experience and method of bonding and I’m just curious how your experience might have differed from other branches.

  • D Furlano

    Who gave Santorum the right to run for president? Can any idiot/moron run? Who is the gate keeper? Someone must think it is ok for this person to say he is a republican candidate for president.

    • medinnus

      The triumph of our system is that anyone can run.

      The tragedy is that anyone means anyone, so long as they can find a sucker to pay for it.

    • Banty

      The requirements are laid out in the Constitution and the gatekeeper is the voting populace.

      I’m not a Tea Purty Constitutionalist, but I’m perfectly comfortable with that. What would you recommend otherwise?

  • qubit2020

    Why does giving gays the same rights at straights “glorify” homosexuality?

    • Banty

      … because…y’know …. it’s how ‘they’ are supposed to just know how to behave, then ‘we’ red-blooded Americans will tolerate them, patting ourselves on the back for our tolerance.

      Don’tcha know …

  • Lonewolf

    Overblown? Overblown? Are you suggesting the cowardice the candidates showed by failing to defend that soldier was acceptable, because the scorn heaped upon him was “just a few scattered boos”?
    Should those same candidates also sit idly by when they observe a woman being beaten, because it’s “just a few scattered punches”?
    ALL the candidates had a mike in front of them, and ALL the candidates failed to use it.
    To not immediately redress the unfair and unseemly public bullying of a serviceman was contemptible and cowardly. General Patton was forced to spend a month publicly apologizing to a soldier he slapped, and all those on stage that night should be given the same penance.
    The incident is important because it is a litmus showing that the Republican contenders are not the unshakeable moral towers most claim to be; rather, they are panderers and cowards. Such dismal character failings indicate they are ALL unworthy of ANY public office, much less the nation’s highest.
    Overblown? Nope. It strikes at the very heart of why the GOP has become the Party of Cowards.

    • Chris Balsz

      “Bullying”? You’re not entitled not to be booed.

      • Lonewolf

        Yes you are, in meeting held by invitation only, on private property, when you agree to obey certain rules when you enter. The catcallers broke the debate rules – with gusto. The soldier had the floor, and they verbally swarmed him. They clearly meant to either drown out the questioner, or to intimidate him through force of numbers into not asking, ergo “bullying” – presumably because it was clear the question would bring up some uncomfortable truths about the people on stage – which it surely did.
        What else could be the purpose of so loudly expressing displeasure at a simple interrogative statement, if not intimidation? It was bullying, no matter which way you look at it.

        • Chris Balsz

          You repeatedly mix metaphors for physical attack with language. They aren’t the same thing. He was not “swarmed”, people disagreed with him. You can’t have it both ways — that every gesture, every pause is pregnant with meaning, but nobody has the right to speak “out of turn”.

        • MSheridan

          “people disagreed with him” — What do you mean by that? What exactly had he said with which they could disagree? He asked a question, a fair one, and one which was as worthy of being asked as any other. Incidentally, I disagree with Lonewolf in his post above. I believe that had he self-identified as being a hetero soldier who opposed the repeal of DADT and wanted to know if any of the candidates favored reinstituting the ban, that he would have gotten cheers rather than boos.

          So far as I can tell, the small handful of people who booed did so because he dared to state that he existed.

        • MattP

          It sounds like it was three, maybe four people who booed. How many hundred were in the audience?

          Overblown? You bet.

        • Banty

          “It sounds like it was three, maybe four people who booed. How many hundred were in the audience?”

          I didn’t hear any of the shushing, that one normally gets when people act out in an audience. I think there was a lot of tacit support there.

      • Banty

        “”Bullying”? You’re not entitled not to be booed.”

        True, and I dunno about ‘bullying’, but…

        Isn’t the response to a question like that, from a soldier like that, to start with “Thank you for your service.”? If I sat in that audience, I would have yelled that out. Heck, maybe enough disgusted people were there to even make that into a chant drowning out the boos. Or not. Well, there *was* not. That’s telling.

  • Chris Balsz

    “On the other hand, Santorum’s policy would also bring back all of the negative consequences of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell: a decent percentage of the U.S. population would be turned away from military service, newly enlisted/commissioned individuals would have to hide their sexual identity and would risk their careers if they let their closest work colleagues in on any details of their personal lives. Thousands of people, likewise, would be kicked out of the military, literally, for nothing other than being themselves.
    In short, Santorum–who, actually, is a lot more thoughtful and likable than he’s portrayed as being in the media–has proposed a “solution” that offers the military the worst of all possible worlds.”

    What was Army policy towards homosexuality in the last two world wars? How is that the “worst” scenario?

    • Lonewolf

      An outright ban on all homosexual behaviour, while debatably unacceptable in this day and age, is at least clear, consistent and understandable. To point at one soldier and say “You can be gay and remain in the army” and point at another and say “YOU may not.” is neither clear, consistent OR intelligible. That is why it’s the worst. Santorum would have the military change its ethos to bad beer slogan: “Less Just – More Prejudiced”.

    • Banty

      “What was Army policy towards homosexuality in the last two world wars? How is that the “worst” scenario?”

      You go back to the two world wars? Before de-segregation of the military? Is there any reason for that?

  • jakester

    Sounds like a politician who wants to have it both ways.

  • Saladdin

    Hmmm, all of this talk about DADT. I thought repeal meant that gay/lesbian servicemembers could now serve openly. Who in their right minds, believes that homosexuals have never served in the military?

    I attended the funeral of a WWII vet recently that lived through D-Day. He spent the last 45 years of his life with his partner (a man). Shame he couldn’t serve openly, but he did serve.

  • drdredel

    In short, Santorum–who, actually, is a lot more thoughtful and likable than he’s portrayed as being in the media

    OH!!! God, I owe that guy SUCH an apology. I thought he was a douche clown because of all the things he’s said and done, but it turns out it’s all the way he’s “portrayed”. Stupid media, with their recording devices and their liberal agenda… it’s just about impossible to say anything homophobic, anti-intellectual, racist, or plain ignorant and still retain a reputation as not being an imbecile.

    My heart SO goes out to this guy.

  • valkayec

    In short, Santorum–who, actually, is a lot more thoughtful and likable than he’s portrayed as being in the media–has proposed a “solution” that offers the military the worst of all possible worlds.

    That’s the problem when you choose to be a cultural warrior, rather than a pragmatic, solutions-based representative of the people. In other words, I have no sympathy for him.

  • Kevin B

    it should not be an issue. Leave it alone, keep it — keep it to yourself, whether you’re a heterosexual or a homosexual

    These words make no sense, unless Santorum is proposing to kick people out for being openly heterosexual. Mr. Santorum himself wouldn’t qualify. He blatantly married a woman, and fathered seven children. If by some chance he were elected president, he would probably bring his sex partner to live with him in the White House, ramming his lifestyle down the throats of the American people.

    • Banty

      +1

      Like, heterosexual soldiers aren’t to talk about their girlfriends or boyfriends.

      It was a dumb, dumb, dumb dumb dumb response.

  • buddyglass

    His point, such as it is, is that gays serve admirably and efficiently so long as nobody knows they’re gay. Once that’s out in the open they become problematic. That’s the whole idea behind DADT. Santorum isn’t saying anything new here, he’s basically rehashing the reasoning that gave birth to DADT in the first place.

  • WestQuake

    President Santorum will announce a policy consistent with his debate comments then have to convince his Tea Party controlled House and Senate that this is the right policy. Rather surprisingly, the policy will be to have a McCarthy style commisson weed out all gays and lesbians serving in the military – and government generally – making suspicion of homosexuality a punishable crime. (Marcus Bachmann will be given the contract to convert all these deviants to heterosexuality, whether they want to or not.)

  • Fairy Hardcastle

    F. Carbuncle, it is good to see another pro-morality commenter here. As to the writer’s asserted negative consequences:

    1. Turning away a “decent percentage” of candidates for the military. Got any statistics on that? Last I looked, the total percentage of avowed sodomites is less than .1% and likely their interest in serving in the military is less than the average American. So I think your pool of rejected candidates comes to less than 10 in any given 5 year period.

    2. Hiding sexual identity. Too late. Unless you are truly androgynous, its written all over your face whether you are a boy or a girl, notwithstanding those foolish Canadian parents. What you really mean is hiding whether you like to insert your genitals into like-gendered people, and who the hell needs to know about that in the military?

    3. Kicked out for “being themselves.” Lots of people get kicked out of the military for being themselves. Not sure of your point here. Homosexuality as an avowed practice is a choice not a material necessity and that choice leads to sad, lonely and forlorn lives.

    Note: I have not posted here in awhile so I am not sure what this terms of service below mean regarding expressing your views about the morality or immorality of homosexuality. I would say that the terms themselves seem discriminatory in that they don’t account for homophobephobes.

    • DeathByIrony

      “Avowed sodomites” might dance the line there, but otherwise I feel you’re within the ToS.
      Though I imagine that quite a few here will find your definition of “Morality” suspect. I’m guessing you saw that coming.

      1. 8% as of last survey. Care to back up why gays would be less interested in joining the military? Care to explain why that doesn’t matter? Presumptions are not fact. Provide some data.
      What’s more, why does that matter? If a gay man can translate arabic and wants to serve his country, does it make sense to fire him?
      2. It’s pretty rife in the military to rummage through personal communications and try and get a fellow servicemember “outed” and thus fired. The paranoia this engenders is not helping morale.
      3. As you said- Why should their sexuality matter? Why should anyone care? There are already rules for proper behavior. Rules for conduct regarding sexuality are in place, practical, and broadly applicable.

    • Kevin B

      What you really mean is hiding whether you like to insert your genitals into like-gendered people, and who the hell needs to know about that in the military?

      When you put it that way, no one needs to know that you like to eat spaghetti. But having a policy where revealing that you like to eat spaghetti gets you kicked out of the military is stupid.

      It’s no one’s business that you like to slurp long noodles.

    • Ray_Harwick

      Fairy Hardcastle = Snarg = Fart Carbuncle and, oddly, they agree with each other.

  • Jay

    Doesn’t matter, couldn’t win his State won’t win his country.

  • Graychin

    “Santorum–who, actually, is a lot more thoughtful and likable than he’s portrayed as being…”

    Are we talking about the same guy?

    Do you know what I think when I encounter someone as obsessed with homosexuality as Santorum is?

    • Saladdin

      Graychin, probably the same thing the rest of us think… C’mon, man, get out of the closet already.

  • JohnMcC

    Funny how a post about homosexuality brings out all the ‘conservative’ commenters, ain’t it?

  • Dragonfly

    Obama is the real issue on this – he failed to embrace gay marriage publicly.
    He is leaving the gays out in the cold, and they don’t even know it.

    He fears losing the middle vote more than the gay vote, which is why he will not embrace gay marriage to the world.
    Any moron can plainly see that he threw a little bone in the hopes he can garner both the gay and the middle vote. He knows the middle is ok with his stripping don’t ask don’t tell, but won’t be ok with him embracing gay marriage.

    He will not publicly embrace gay marriage leading up to the election.

    Say what you will about Santorum – at least he’s not trying to pull the wool over the gay’s eyes for their vote.

  • Clayman

    Don’t see how a guy who can’t retain his Senate seat thinks he has better than a snowballs chance in hell of being the GOP nominee.

  • Bebe99

    How would soldiers be expected to form cohesive units working together, yet never discuss personal matters relating to spouses or significant others? Santorum doesn’t say that both hetero and homo soldiers would adhere to this new policy of not discussing anything about personal relationships, but that is implied. Maybe if Santorum had to refrain from discussing personal matters– like refraining from mentioning his faith in public–he’d get a clue how difficult such self-censorship can be.

  • Jacob Skinner

    Let’s talk about that picture. Baby hand?