In an interview with Air America’s Ana Marie Cox, Senator John McCain re-affirmed his support for Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT). When Cox compared DADT to Truman’s forced de-segregation of the armed forces as a civil rights issue, a testy John McCain replied: “Well, you are entitled to your opinion. But I don’t think so.”
An excerpt from the interview below:
MCCAIN: My opinion is shaped by the view of the leaders of the military. The reason why I supported the policy to start with is because General Colin Powell, who was then the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is the one that strongly recommended we adopt this policy in the Clinton administration. I have not heard General Powell or any of the other military leaders reverse their position, just like when on other issues, that people are expert and knowledgeable of, I rely on their opinion. But this is unique. These military leaders are responsible for the very lives of the men and women under their command, and that’s why I am especially guided, to a large degree, by their views.
COX: Now, you know that Truman de-segregated the military through executive order. And he did it against the wishes of some people in the military. There were some studies that had been shown and some panels that suggested that integration was actually good for the forces.
MCCAIN: Let me tell you again. Colin Powell was asked exactly that question, as an African-American. He was asked that question exactly, and he answered it hundreds of times. And he said, “I do not equate ethnicity with sexual orientation.” I agree with him.
COX: Well, actually, there’s something to that, because obviously, right now there’s no segregation at all of gay people and straight people because we don’t know who is gay. So I guess I have to ask…
MCCAIN: But the two issues are not comparable. So I’m not sure why you’d bring that up.
COX: I think they’re comparable in that they are both civil rights issues.
MCCAIN: Well, you are entitled to your opinion. But I don’t think so.
The full interview will air on Saturday 9am. An audio clip is available on the Air America website.