Wednesday, December 1, 2010

McCain "Misspoke" When He Said Defense Secretary Gates "is a political appointee who's never been in the military"; Complete Quote Below

Yesterday, Arizona Sen. John McCain continued his campaign to keep the U.S. military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy regarding homosexuals in the military in place.  He criticized the Defense Department's report in an interview with NBC. 

In the "brief interview," he again downplayed the opinions of military service members, the Commander-in-Chief (Obama), the Secretary of Defense (Gates) and the Chairperson of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Mullen); instead, McCain played up the opposition to the repeal of the Commandant of the Marine Corps (Conway/Amos) and the concerns expressed by other branch chiefs.

In his downplaying, McCain slammed Gates for not knowing what is best for the military because he has never served.  Here is his complete quote:

"I'm paying attention to the commandant of the Marine Corps.  I'm paying attention to the other three service chiefs who have serious concerns. They are the four guys who are directly in charge. In all due respect, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs is not directly in charge of the troops. The Secretary of Defense is a political appointee who's never been in the military. And the president, obviously, has had no background or experience in the military whatsoever. It was a campaign pledge to the gay and lesbian community." (emphasis added)
Unfortunately, McCain was flat out wrong.  Gates was a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force (when he was beginning his long service in the CIA).  Reached by Talking Points Memo, McCain spokesperson Brooke Buchanan claimed in an e-mail that McCain "simply misspoke," and that "obviously Senator McCain is aware of Secretary Gates' many honorable years in service."

It does not seem "obvious" from the quote.  It does seem that McCain was focused on the "political appointee" aspect of Gates' current position and had it locked in his brain that Gates' credibility could be diminished along with anyone else who believes that DADT can be repealed.

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