Lis­ten to McCain (Mrs.)

The young fe­male sol­dier who is the lead singer belted out "I Kissed A Girl" - Katy Perry's ode to Sap­phic smooching.

The Pak Banker - - Editorial5 - Mau­reen Dowd

As the troops waited for Pres­i­dent Obama to come into the han­gar at Ba­gram Air Force Base in Afghanistan, an Army band ser­e­naded the crowd.

Not with Sousa or the theme from "Pat­ton." The band - drawn from the 101st Air­borne Di­vi­sion and called Nuts af­ter Gen­eral McAuliffe's re­but­tal to a Ger­man sur­ren­der ul­ti­ma­tum - jammed to a more res­o­nant tune.

The young fe­male sol­dier who is the lead singer belted out "I Kissed A Girl" - Katy Perry's ode to Sap­phic smooching.

The lyrics about "the taste of her cherry Chapstick" and "just hu­man na­ture" of­fered a cheeky coun­ter­point to the weighty de­bate go­ing on half-a-world away as the Se­nate Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee hashed over ques­tions of hu­man na­ture and sex­ual ten­sion.

In two days of "don't ask, don't tell" hear­ings, sen­a­tors dis­cussed the knotty is­sue of whether gays and straights in the mil­i­tary could shower to­gether with­out los­ing bat­tles. Once again, the Democrats waited too long to close the deal, the pres­i­dent showed no lead­er­ship, and a cam­paign prom­ise that was seen as a fait ac­com­pli now seems a ca­su­alty. Even af­ter a Pen­tagon re­port show­ing that most troops and their fam­i­lies think that al­low­ing gays and les­bians to be them­selves would not be a big deal, even af­ter the de­fense sec­re­tary and the chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff urged the Se­nate to re­peal the law that de­mands dis­hon­esty, Democrats were still fend­ing off a snarling John McCain and a few un­re­con­structed South­ern­ers.

Sen­a­tor Carl Levin, chair­man of the com­mit­tee, was ea­ger to show that a gay sol­dier could be just as lethal as a straight one. He read a quote from the Pen­tagon re­port: " As one Spe­cial Op­er­a­tions force warfighter told us, ' We have a gay guy [in the unit]. He's big, he's mean, and he kills lots of bad guys. No one cared that he was gay.' "

Levin read the quote to Gen. James Amos, the com­man­dant of the Marines, who are the most re­sis­tant to gays serv­ing openly. "I don't doubt," the gen­eral replied, "that at any given base or com­bat out­post that we'll find men and women that are out there just ex­actly like that Spe­cial Op­er­a­tions sol­dier, Ma­rine, sailor, who­ever he was."

Yet Gen­eral Amos said that be­cause of "the very tough fight in Afghanistan, the al­most sin­gu­lar fo­cus of our com­bat forces as they train up and de­ploy into theater, the nec­es­sary tightly wo­ven cul­ture of those com­bat forces," he would rec­om­mend against the re­peal right now.

McCain stressed that we should not make this sort of change while we're in a bad econ­omy and two long-run­ning wars. So gay Amer­i­cans who risk their lives get end­lessly op­pressed be­cause chest-beat­ing straight guys in the Bush era con­tin­ued dereg­u­la­tion and ca­reened into end­less com­bat mis­sions - and not even in the coun­try host­ing Osama bin Laden?

Some Repub­li­cans com­plained about what Sen­a­tor Scott Brown called "im­ple­ment­ing so­cial change in the mid­dle of two bat­tles." But those bat­tles were de­signed to im­ple­ment so­cial change in Is­lamic coun­tries on an epic scale.

In yet an­other lu­di­crous bit of goal-post shift­ing, McCain said it wasn't enough that the top two lead­ers of the mil­i­tary, and many of the troops, fa­vored re­peal. Now he wants to hold 13 hear­ings and so­licit the views of se­nior en­listed per­son­nel around the world, even though, as the Army chief, Gen. Ge­orge Casey Jr., dryly in­formed the panel, the mil­i­tary is not a democ­racy. The five ser­vice chiefs agreed that, if asked, they could suc­cess­fully carry out the changes.

It's un­clear why McCain is be­ing so stub­born and stalling, par­tic­u­larly when those clos­est to him - his wife, his daugh­ter and his cloak­room buddy Joe Lieber­man - have all boldly spo­ken out on be­half of gays in the mil­i­tary.

It seems a sore point at home: Meghan McCain said the topic would be off-lim­its at Thanks­giv­ing. And Lieber­man, fol­low­ing an in­dig­nant McCain on the panel Thurs­day, as­serted, "It's just wrong and un-Amer­i­can to dis­crim­i­nate against peo­ple based on their sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion."

Sen­a­tor Brown, a lieu­tenant colonel and a J.A.G. lawyer in the Army Na­tional Guard, re­called a visit to Wal­ter Reed, where he "saw a sol­dier who lost both his legs, lost an arm and lost most of an­other arm, do­ing crunches, you know, to try to get his torso strength­ened enough so he could still have a vi­able, you know, and ful­fill­ing life." He said he did not care if that man, or the other he­roes and fallen fight­ers, were gay or straight.

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