Diary

WaPo's Richard Cohen Calls For Sacking of Marine Commandant Over DADT -- Now Seriously, Which Of These Two Guys Can We Most Easily Live Without?

One of the drearier tasks in any Conservative blogger’s life is perusing the Left’s house organs (and that last term is pregnant with meaning) in search of grist for articles and posts. The musings of these strange, sad and palpably small people reliably evokes certain reactions – trending towards amused contempt and incredulity – but only rarely does one actually feel the urge to deliver a Moe Howard upside someone’s head.

With his execrable article in yesterday’s Washington Post — Marine Corps commandant has to go — Richard Cohen has achieved this rarified status.

Cohen, whose knowledge of the military appears limited to being “a fan of the old World War II movies,” has decided that Gen. James Amos, the Marine Corps Commandant, “must go” for having had the temerity to express misgivings over the repeal of DADT.

[Gen. Amos] was particularly concerned about combat situations where, he thought, gays might be “a distraction.” “Mistakes and inattention or distractions cost Marines’ lives,” Amos said. This was not the first time the general had expressed his doubts. Earlier, he had talked about what might happen when his Marines were “laying out, sleeping alongside of one another and sharing death, fear and loss of brothers. I don’t know what the effect of that will be on cohesion. I mean, that’s what we’re looking at. It’s unit cohesion. It’s combat effectiveness.”

In an eye-popping, but unfortunately characteristic, spasm of illogic Cohen concedes the General’s point then attempts to make the case that he should be fired for making it.

It’s easy to dismiss Amos, but his concerns fall within the realm of possibility. … Sooner or later, a certain amount of unacceptable harassment will occur, abuses will be committed and, more innocently, plain hooking up is going to happen. We know this.

But we know also that this can be managed – contained, limited. It takes education. It takes training. It takes leadership. [Emphasis mine.]

So relax everyone, the decorated Marine Commandant with 40 years operational and staff experience is worried about the lives of the men and women under his command, but Cohen, who has seen The Sands of Iwo Jima fourteen times, assures us it can all be managed.

Amos, though, is the wrong man to deal with it. His subordinates know what he thinks of gays. They know he has not an iota of sympathy for what might be their difficulties or any tolerance for their lifestyle. If I were gay, I would not want to work for the man – or serve under him. He is one step short of being a bigot.

As an alternative explanation let me suggest that Cohen is at least one step past being an idiot. Having never served in the U.S. Military I do not – unlike Cohen – presume to speak for its members. I think however it is safe to assume that gay service people want to stay alive as much as their heterosexual counterparts and recognize that one good way to enhance the odds of doing so is serving under someone who cares about his people and knows his business. I would think that sensitivity to one’s lifestyle would come a distant second.

The final paragraph of Cohen’s piece (which must be read in its entirety to get the full effect) is a masterpiece of stated and implied slander, visited upon multiple targets with the calm assurance of someone completely unaware or, indifferent to, the depth of his own ignorance.

The Marines of today know that virtually the entire Republican Party stood up for bigotry. The Corps knows that some important senators – John McCain and Jon Kyl, to name two – furiously fought to retain the status quo, always in the sainted cause of unit cohesion. (Kyl said repeal could “cost lives.”) Marines know, too, that in surveys, those on the front lines are least supportive of having gays among them and they are also aware that their brass fought to keep “don’t ask, don’t tell.” The issue for me, as for Gen. Amos, is unit cohesion. That’s why he has to go.

With all due respect, Richard (no, strike that) you have no idea what the “Marines of today” know. That you presume to speak for them is as irrational as appointing yourself spokesman for (say) the Journalists of At Least Average Intelligence and Intellectual Honesty Society. Your clear implication is that combat Marines are inherently “bigoted” (to use your technique of encapsulating an idea you think is damn stupid in quotation marks) and it will take someone apart from that “bigoted” General Amos to whip them into shape over DADT. Not being someone who will ever find himself in a bunker in Baghdad – or Newark for that matter – you don’t particularly care about “unit cohesion” (which you neglected to put in quotes, but the sneer was palpable anyway) or that it will “cost lives” as long as this manifestly unworkable, expensive and dangerous piece of social engineering can be imposed on our military.

As NRB’s Cassy Fiano has pointed out in her own excellent post Hysterics Over DADT Repeal Are An Insult To The Military General Amos has already pledged to support the DADT repeal. The General, who along with the Marines he commands require no pontifical lectures from you about the importance of following orders, will do their duty.

General Amos has pledged to support the repeal, doing the honorable thing. (Funny how so many of our servicemen and women tend to do that, huh?)

This must be shocking to the people who think so little of our military that they won’t be able to survive serving alongside gay men and women. (Imagine how shocked they would be if they ever found out that many times service members already know who in their unit is gay, and don’t care.)

I know it’s shocking to you Richard, but people who routinely charge up hills bristling with RPG’s (sometimes to save sorry ass journalists like you) whether they think it’s a particularly good idea or not will not likely be daunted by this latest idiocy from our politicians – excuse me, the Constitutionally mandated civilian authority. They will adapt and overcome. Such men and women are the best we have, and are irreplaceable.

You Richard, not so much. So, if anyone should go, it certainly shouldn’t be General Amos. I’ll give you the rest of the day to figure out what I’m driving at.

Meanwhile, a short film that I found enormously therapeutic after reading your article.

(Cross-posted at NewsReal Blog.)