Santorum Doubles Down on DADT, With No Apology Or Thanks To American Soldier

Jim Burroway

September 23rd, 2011

GOP presidential candidate Sen. Rick Santorum followed up his criticism last night of gays serving openly in the military. In last night’s GOP presidential debate, in which an American soldier currently stationed in Iraq was booed by members of the audience, Santorum called the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” an exercise in “social experimentation.” Today, he appeared on Fox News’  morning program Fox and Friends, in which he falsely claimed that other nations’ militaries which allow gay people to serve openly are mostly non-volunteer forces.

Q: I don’t know if he had the same idea with you about “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” but I do know that you disagree with President Obama, which by the way got rid of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” just a couple of days ago. Let’s listen to what you said last night:

Santorum, during the debate: …Any type of sexual activity has absolutely no place in the military and the fact that they are making a point to include it as a provision within the military that we are going to recognize a group of people and give them a special privilege in removing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,”  I think tries to inject social policy into the military and the military’s job is to do one thing and that is to defend our country. [Applause] … What we’re doing is playing social experimentation with our military right now, and that’s tragic. …

Q: So you would go back to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” if you become President?

Santorum: Absolutely. We haven’t even begun to see what the consequences of going to ‘DADT’ are going to be. The men and women who sign up for the military are now going to be placed in very difficult and uncomfortable personal situations, in very close quarter situations. Look, this is a volunteer military. In the other militaries where this has been tried by and large, have not been voluntary militaries. You’ve been required to serve. This is not, and so we’ve got to recruit people who would want to do this and now you’re going to put them in a very odd and uncomfortable environment. A lot of people, I believe are going to leave. I think a lot of folks aren’t going to join who otherwise would have joined, and that’s going to hurt our ratings, it’s going to hurt our ability to defend this country, and we shouldn’t be playing social experimentation. As I said last night, there is no role for playing sexual experimentation games in the United States military. This is about securing our country.

In fact, most of the militaries around the world which allow gays to serve openly are all volunteer forces, including Australia, Bahamas, Belgium, Britain, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden and Uruguay.

No mention was made about the booing of an active-duty American soldier by the debate audience. It is also the only time I can recall when an active-duty American servicemember appeared in a GOP debate who was not thanked for his service to our country. Andrew Sullivan reacts:

But somehow the fact that these indignities were heaped on a man risking his life to serve this country, a man ballsy enough to make that video, a man in the uniform of the United States … well, it tells me a couple of things. It tells me that these Republicans don’t actually deep down care for the troops, if that means gay troops. Their constant posturing military patriotism has its limits.

The shocking silence on the stage – the fact that no one challenged this outrage – also tells me that this kind of slur is not regarded as a big deal. When it came to it, even Santorum couldn’t sanction firing all those servicemembers who are now proudly out. But that’s because he was forced to focus not on his own Thomist abstractions, but on an actual person. Throughout Republican debates, gays are discussed as if we are never in the audience, never actually part of the society, never fully part of families, never worthy of even a scintilla of respect. When you boo a servicemember solely because he’s gay, you are saying he is beneath contempt, that nothing he does or has done can counterweigh the vileness of his sexual orientation.

Can you even begin to imagine the hissy fit we would be hearing right now if any American active-duty soldier currently stationed in Iraq had been booed at a Democratic debate?

Terry T

September 23rd, 2011

Sounds like he’s trying to make sure his name remains what it means when Googled.

Ben In Oakland

September 23rd, 2011

Frankly, it is an even BIGGBER shock to me that no one has called santorum on his propagandic statement that the end of DADT is the exact cognate and equivalent of “sexual activity” in the military, and that this is somehiow a special right that only gay people get to enjoy.

Somehow, even the existence of principled republicans like Gary Johnston and Jon Huntsman could EVER get me to vote for any republican, ever.


September 23rd, 2011

I posted this earlier, but am moved to repeat myself:

As a citizen of Canada, I find this man insulting to me and all other world militaries that are not only gay-positive, but US allies.

Xenophobia, thy name is America, quickly on its way to being Margaret Atwood’s Republic of Gillead as found in her novel “The Handmaid’s Tale”.

All religion and no common sense.

How you have let these people usurp good government and determine social policy baffles us all.

Priya Lynn

September 23rd, 2011

Christopher they usurped good government with their sheer numbers – there’s a lot of bigots in the U.S., there’s no mystery to it.


September 23rd, 2011

How long before he starts “frothing” at the mouth?

Timothy Kincaid

September 23rd, 2011

Can you even begin to imagine the hissy fit we would be hearing right now if any American active-duty soldier currently stationed in Iraq had been booed at a Democratic debate?

It would have been hyperbolic, relentless, and personal.

I’m furious.

This goes beyond Santorum. It wasn’t Santorum booing… it was “the people of the Republican Party.”

The leadership of the Republican Party now has an obligation to correct the image that was created at the debate. If, that is, they have any desire to do so.

And if they are afraid of offending haters by calling them on their hate, then they are complicit. You either oppose evil or you own it.

I have long been reluctant to automatically equate Republicans with homophobia and hatred. I know many good Republicans who have no animus towards gay people.

But a default position has been set. In my mind, “Republican” now means “hates gay people” unless there is some indication otherwise. Not because of the handful of booers, but because no one has called it what it is: hatred, unacceptable, and not a value that anyone of any party should view with anything but contempt.

As long as it is “unfortunate” or “ill advised” or “lacking in respect” then it is an oopsie, a faux pas.

No. This was not a faux pas.

It was people booing someone who is risking his life for them. And the reason they booed is because they felt comfortable in doing so. They assumed that those around them would not find their boos to be objectionable.

So far it seems that they assumed correctly.


September 23rd, 2011

He’s issued an apology, claiming that he “didn’t hear” any booing.

I think that we can all treat that statement with the contempt that it so richly deserves.

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