People who take polls for a living will tell you that depending on the methodology, the sample, how a question is asked and the understanding of the ones being polled, the outcome can pretty much be predetermined.
If you are dependent on a superior for your job and that superior tells you he wants a certain conclusion reached about a policy he wishes to implement, that, too, can affect the outcome.
Such is the case with President Obama, who has told gay rights groups he intends to end the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy and allow homosexuals to serve openly in the military. From the comments by Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Michael Mullen and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, it appears the president's message has placed their job security above what is best for the military and the country. Many lower-ranking officers do not share their opinion about the effects openly gay service members would have on our military.
The Pentagon poll touted by Gates and Mullen was "rigged," said a recent editorial in The Washington Times, which noted, "From the outset, the Pentagon had no interest in eliciting honest responses from the troops about whether the law ... should be preserved or repealed. Instead, soldiers, airmen, sailors and Marines were addressed in terms of implying that repeal is inevitable."
Furthermore, said the newspaper, "63 percent of respondents live off-base or in civilian housing and consequently answered that a change in policy might not affect them. Those in combat roles -- where unit cohesion and trust are life-and-death concerns -- gave a different response."
Of all the arguments made by the Obama administration for repealing the law, the one mentioned by Secretary Gates is the least defensible. Gates said Congress had better act before the law was "imposed immediately by judicial fiat." Perhaps Gates should re-read the Constitution, especially the part about the separation of powers. Article 1, Section 8 empowers Congress to make rules for the government and regulate land and naval forces. A National Review Online editorial labeled Gates' comment, "... blackmail via judicial imperialism."
What is more likely to happen if the policy is reversed is that tens of thousands of those currently in service will retire, or quit. During Senate Armed Services Committee hearings last week, Senator John McCain (R-AZ), cited another Pentagon survey, which found that repealing the ban could create an "alarming" troop retention problem at a time when the military is already shorthanded.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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