About gays in the military, Hagel said fifteen years ago that the military wasn’t a place for “social experiments.” This was a stock phrasing among “responsible” conservatives in the 1990s–I probably wrote it into half a dozen New York Post editorials, without even thinking about it. Hagel also criticized an openly gay Clinton ambassadorial appointment.
Regardless of what conservatives wanted, the “social experiment” took place, under the incredible stress of two wars. And more or less worked. No one makes much of a fuss about gays in the military anymore. Hagel’s opponents seem to me to be reaching if this is all they have.
Whatever Hagel may have said or thought then, it’s likely his views on gays and much else have evolved, as have those of much of the country. Politically active gays are now among his closest friends and most important supporters. Pretty much everyone in Washington knows this.
One tell of the bluff in Jennifer Rubin’s column is its highly selective use of quotation. She writes:
Hagel’s fate was likely sealed today when the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, which raised loads of cash for President Obama, called Hagel’s remarks “unacceptable.”
Actually the “unacceptable” quote came from the Human Rights Campaign, a gay advocacy group. Their spokesman, Michael Cole-Schwartz added ”we do not know … how [Hagel']s views have evolved over time” and that the group “look[s] forward to hearing from Senator Hagel on these issues should he be nominated.” In other words, in the one in a zillion chance that Hagel’s views are exactly the same as they were in 1998, his attitudes about gays will be a problem.
But Jennifer has an alternative candidate. This morning, she links to this, touting Michele Flournoy. Endorsed by Paul Wolfowitz. Wow! That should be persuasive.