- The Washington Times - Friday, March 16, 2007

A lot of people are telling it to the Marines. Gen. Peter Pace, who serves as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, set off a firestorm of lavender fury when he observed, answering a direct question, that he regards homosexuality as “immoral.”

Like it or not, but this is a teaching of all the major religions of the world. But the editors of the New York Times, dissenting theologians all, insist that the general “is wrong in every way, and out of step.” Not only that, his remarks “carried a special meaning of hurt” when “thousands of gay men and lesbians are serving their country in Iraq.”

This suggests that the correspondents of the New York Times have been sampling forbidden pleasures in the fleshpots of Baghdad (such as they are), compiling statistics on who’s gay and who’s not. No other polls have been taken. But how can we rely on the efficacy of this sampling? The military rule is “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

The first rule of the mountains from whence many of our soldiers come is, of course, that “we always lie to strangers.” You can see why. “General Pace should apologize for his remarks, forthrightly,” the newspaper demanded. “Then perhaps some good could come out of his bigoted remarks if they add to the growing movement on Capitol Hill to finally allow gay men and lesbians to serve openly in the military.” The Times and its congregants no longer have access to the rack and the thumbscrew, so the general’s joints and fingernails are probably safe for the moment. But you get the idea of where the high priests of the secular church would take him if they could.

The “special hurt,” however, has probably not been inflicted on gay soldiers and lesbian drivers and medics so much as on Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. They’re trying to respond to the general, a straight shooter who only answered the question he was asked and as a faithful Roman Catholic has a perfect right to hold to the tenets of his faith. The contretemps is particularly difficult for Mzz Hillary, often photographed leaving a Methodist church with Bible in hand, as she tries to be faithful both to the Methodist Book of Discipline and the catechism of the Democratic left.

The general is responsible first for the fighting spirit of the troops, and there’s ample precedent for allowing the military to decide how to nurture this fighting spirit. Anyone who has slept in a military barracks understands the general’s concerns, but how would most of the general’s critics know? They wouldn’t be caught dead in their country’s uniform. But both Barack Obama and Mzz Hillary, eager not to offend the great unwashed on whom they know they must ultimately depend, approached this issue as if it were an angry porcupine, with quills aquiver.

“I think traditionally the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman has restricted his comments to military matters,” Mr. Obama said, scurrying away from reporters on the Hill as gracefully as he could. “That’s probably a good tradition to follow.” Pressed by a reporter for Newsday to say whether he thinks homosexual sexual relations are “immoral,” Mr. Obama demurred, and answered questions nobody asked. Only later, he sent out an aide to say that the senator does, in fact, disagree with the general.

Mzz Hillary danced delicately to similar music. When a reporter for ABC-TV asked whether she agreed with the general, she first replied: “Well, I am going to leave that to others to conclude.”

A day later she succumbed to pressure from the red-hots of the lavender wing of the party. “Well,” she said, chastened, “I’ve heard from a number of my friends, and I’ve certainly clarified with them any misunderstanding that anyone had, because I disagree with Gen. Pace completely. But the point I was trying to make is that this policy of ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ is not working. I have been against it for many years.”

This is, of course, precisely the policy that she assisted in formulating, back in the day when she was something she and Bill called a “co-president.” She was what we got when the voters fell for Bill’s famous offer to “buy one, get one free.”

This “explanation,” such as it is, hardly quelled the anger on her left, nor is it likely to satisfy her hoped-for straight friends, particularly in the black church, who agree with Pope Benedict XVI that opposition to divorce, abortion, homosexual “marriage” and euthanasia are “nonnegotiable” Christian values. So who’s out of step?

Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Times.

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