Obama’s first State of the Union address is just a few hours away, and much of what the media (new and old) has focused on are what the President will say about issues such as spending and health care. Given the recent developments on these fronts, it easy to focus on them. However, one of the issues that the President will be bringing up is the issue of gays serving in the military.
This issue is one that has bothered the left for years, and is one of the things that is often cited as one of Clinton’s “sell-outs” amongst that group. Many of you may not remember that the policy known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was a compromise between the Clinton administration (which desperately wanted gays to be able to serve openly) and the military (that desperately did not).
The problem with this policy, like so many coming from the left, is that it attempts to make the situation into something that it will never be (and probably never should be). In this case, the left wants to treat the military as a giant social engineering experiment. It looks at the military as an opportunity to test out its desired social policies, since the vast majority of those in the military would have to comply whether they liked it or not (you know, that whole chain of command thing).
The left conveniently forgets that the military is not just another large organization. As much as lefties may squirm at this fact, it’s reason for being is to defend this country, which usually entails defeating its enemies on the battlefield. This often requires actually killing another person (as opposed to Mirandizing them and sending them at an art therapy program). This business is hard, dirty work and requires several things that most other organizations don’t have a need for. One is a requirement to follow orders, no matter how seemingly trivial or insignificant. Another is a little intangible called unit cohesion. This can take on many forms, but for brevity’s sake, let’s define it as the need for the personnel within a unit to act as one.
Anything that causes damage to this unit cohesion is generally frowned upon. A great deal of time and energy is invested in developing and maintaining unit cohesion. One of the many arguments from the military at the time the policy was enacted was that it could damage unit cohesion at the small unit level (where it really matters). Like it or not, it was a serious worry, and probably remains so.
Now comes President Obama, who campaigned on (amongst other hare-brained ideas) to repeal “Don’t Ask” so that gays can serve openly in the military. Now that his great two-headed monster of health care reform (takeover) and cap and trade seem to be dead on arrival, he needs to do something to help placate his progressive base, which is becoming increasingly frustrated with his seeming inability to ram the progressive agenda home once and for all.
While it is unfortunate that the Obama administration thinks that making this change (which is very unpopular within the military) while we are prosecuting a war, it shouldn’t be a shock to anyone. The left, of which President Obama is still a member in good standing (despite all this talk about spending freezes and populist anger), is pushing hard for him to make a substantive change that aligns with their goals. Someone on Obama’s team has examined the factors and decided that now is the time to push this policy change through. While it may excite his progressive comrades, it completely ignores the needs and desires of the military. Civilian control of the military is one thing, but continued meddling in the inner workings of the military, especially instituting grossly unpopular social engineering policies, is just another bad progressive idea.