You only have to shoot straight

Posted 2 December 2010 by

There were conservatives that questioned Senator John McCain’s credentials in the 2008 presidential race. They had good reason to. Apparently McCain does not listen to the advice of the gold standard of American conservatism, the late Senator Barry M. Goldwater. This is what McCain has to say on the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

I am not saying this law should never change. I am simply saying that it may be premature to make such a change at this time and in this manner, without further consideration of this report and further study of the issue by Congress – for of all the people we serve, one of our highest responsibilities is to the men and women of our armed services, especially those risking their lives in combat. McCain: DADT Repeal Timing “Premature,” Time, Retrieved December 2, 2010

Senator McCain thinks the subject should be studied more. He is afraid of affecting the effectiveness of combat troops.

Don't ask, don't tell the difference.

"Don't ask, don't tell the difference." Scott Stantis, Chicago Tribune

When the bill that instituted “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was before Congress, Senator Goldwater had retried from the Senate. But, he expressed his opinion in an editorial that ran in the Washington Post and Los Angeles Times. Apparently Senator Goldwater did not think any more studies were needed when he said, “Everyone knows that gays have served honorably in the military since at least the time of Julius Caesar. They’ll still be serving long after we’re all dead and buried. That should not surprise anyone” (“Ban on Gays is Senseless Attempt to Stall the Inevitable,” Barry Goldwater, Retrieved December 2, 2010).

That same article said removing gays from the service was a waste of money that would surprise most Americans. Goldwater compared reasoning behind the ban on gays to the reasoning that said blacks would not make good officers. There are the reports dating back to the 1950s that said there would be no problems with gays in the military. said As far as he was concerned, it was legislating someone’s morality—which government should not do. Then, there is patriotism.

When you get down to it, no American able to serve should be allowed, much less given an excuse, not to serve his or her country. We need all our talent.

There is a famous quote regarding extremism and moderation in Senator Goldwater’s speech accepting the 1964 Republican nomination to run for president. Usually, only two sentences are quoted. The context is more telling of what Senator Goldwater thought on the subject of freedom.

Barry Goldwater campaign button in 1964

Barry Goldwater campaign button in 1964

Today, as then, but more urgently and more broadly than then, the task of preserving and enlarging freedom at home and safeguarding it from the forces of tyranny abroad is great enough to challenge all our resources and to require all our strength. Anyone who joins us in all sincerity, we welcome. Those who do not care for our cause, we don’t expect to enter our ranks in any case. And let our Republicanism, so focused and so dedicated, not be made fuzzy and futile by unthinking and stupid labels.

I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.

The beauty of the very system we Republicans are pledged to restore and revitalize, the beauty of this Federal system of ours is in its reconciliation of diversity with unity. We must not see malice in honest differences of opinion, and no matter how great, so long as they are not inconsistent with the pledges we have given to each other in and through our Constitution. Our Republican cause is not to level out the world or make its people conform in computer regimented sameness. Our Republican cause is to free our people and light the way for liberty throughout the world.

You have to ask if Senator Goldwater’s call for diversity would be accepted in the Republican Party today. Actually, the 2008 Republican nominee has answered this question. It needs more study. Maybe Senator McCain needs to read the reports that Senator Goldwater had read. And, listen to Senator Goldwater.

“You don’t have to be straight to be in the military; you just have to be able to shoot straight.” —Barry M. Goldwater, quoted in by Robert Alan Goldberg, Goldwater, page 322.

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