PARISI: Dodging big issues to deal with wee ones

‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is a sideshow for a nation in trouble

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If it ain’t broke, break it. That appears to be the Democrats’ mindset in trying and apparently failing to ram through repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” ban on open homosexuality in the waning days of the 111th Congress.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but it’s nothing more than another legislative payback to a loyal Democratic constituency - a minuscule but muscular special interest - and damn the consequences for our national defense.

Democrats and their homosexual allies are all too aware their window of opportunity is quickly closing, and that it’s now or never in the lame-duck session, since a new Congress - one with far fewer Democrats - means having to start again from the beginning, with a Republican-controlled House highly unlikely to go along.

With a 2011 budget still not completed more than two months into the new fiscal year, with the START arms treaty with Russia pending ratification, with the tax-cut extension still unsettled, and with action needed to stanch the hemorrhaging red ink of the national deficit and debt, why is the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” even occupying a millisecond of Congress‘ time?

Led by a cheering section at The Washington Post editorial page (notably, editorial writer Jonathan Capehart), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, and Sen. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut independent, supporters of the repeal are determined to extend the lame-duck Senate session for as long as it takes to get it done. They are willfully ignoring studies that suggest the deleterious effects repeal would have on recruitment and re-enlistment of service members in what is, after all, an all-volunteer force. (That latter fact renders the comparison to President Truman’s racial integration of a draft-era, conscripted military a phony analogy.)

Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, noted Dec. 2 on the first day of Senate Armed Services Committee hearings that, according to a survey conducted for the Pentagon, repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” could create an “alarming” troop-retention problem at a time when the military is already shorthanded.

Mr. McCain said, “If 12.6 percent of the military left earlier, that translates into 264,600 men and women who would leave the military earlier than they had planned. … Do you think that’s a good idea to replace 265,000 troops … in a time of war?”

Military analyst Robert Maginnis, a retired Army lieutenant colonel and senior fellow for national security at the Family Research Council, told one publication the real number could exceed 500,000.

“Twelve-point-six percent is just the people who said they would leave,” Mr. Maginnis said. “If you add in the number who said they ‘might’ leave, you get 23.7 percent. That would be 528,000, when you count both active duty and reserves.”

In fact, as the Center for Military Readiness has noted, the recently released Pentagon report on repeal does not mention so much as a single beneficial result of repealing the 1993 law with regard to strengthening recruiting, retention and readiness of the all-volunteer force. That’s despite the fact that the so-called Comprehensive Review Working Group undertook its study with the pro-repeal premise of ascertaining how it could best be implemented, rather than on whether or not repeal was a good idea at all.

But it apparently matters little to Democrats that the military shouldn’t be a petri dish for the left’s social experiments. And, no, whether or not our allies’ militaries allow open homosexuals to serve is not a reason to follow suit; after all, it’s the U.S. military that does most of the heavy lifting in world crises.

Senators should listen not to the Post’s Mr. Capehart - nor that other renowned military expert, Lady Gaga - on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” but rather to the 1,167 retired generals and admirals who have signed a petition to Congress urging that the ban be kept in place. (Years back, some feminists claimed that only the women in Congress should be able to vote on abortion-related legislation; by that reasoning, only those who have served in the military should have a vote on whether to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”)

But among those senators who would vote on the matter, if proponents can overcome the filibuster being led by Mr. McCain, are 23 Democrats who are up for re-election in 2012. Do they want to put their seats on the line by voting for a measure being pushed only to placate the Democrats’ MoveOn and Daily Kos far-left fringe?

For example, in a final vote on the issue, will outgoing Sen. Blanche Lincoln stay true to Arkansas values and stand by her pre-election vote to sustain the filibuster, or will she flip now that she has nothing left to lose? Likewise, will her fellow Arkansas Democrat Mark Pryor again stand with the military, or was his earlier vote only intended to provide Mrs. Lincoln with political cover?

Will newly minted Sen. Joe Manchin III, who campaigned as a conservative in West Virginia, fall on his sword and risk losing a full term in 2012 for the seat he won in a special election just to satisfy a tiny, militant minority? Do Democratic Sens. Bill Nelson of Florida, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Jon Tester of Montana, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Kent Conrad of North Dakota, Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Jim Webb of Virginia, all of whom are up for re-election in 2012, need to be reminded they’re from red states? Sens. Herb Kohl in Wisconsin and Bob Casey Jr. in Pennsylvania should likewise take heed of their states’ sharp right turn in last month’s elections.

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