Ike Skelton: The “Helen Thomas” in Congress on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell?

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iwo jima skelton.jpg(Congressman Ike Skelton pays his respects at Iwo Jima’s Mount Suribachi Memorial, 18 February 2009.)
Maybe in this comparison I’m being way too unkind to Helen Thomas whose racially charged comments that Israel’s Israelis should go back to Germany, Poland and the United States were indefensible — but House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton‘s bigotry as the decade younger, much more incumbent Democratic Party lawmaker in the House of Representatives deserve the spotlight today.
I’m sure that there is a great deal of distinguished leadership in Ike Skelton’s record of political accomplishments, but that doesn’t excuse the crassness of his latest comments about gays serving honorably and open in the U.S. military. They are there now Congressman — and you are asking them, indeed compelling them to lie.
While Skelton has shown great respect to the military services as in the photo above, paying tribute to those who fell at Iwo Jima, I would only add that a quick read of Gore Vidal’s Palimpsest: A Memoir will give Skelton a glimpse into the personal, searing pain of loss of a gay soldier dying there, one of probably many — in this case, Vidal’s first love.
As reported by The Cable‘s Josh Rogin, Skelton said about opposing the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell:

“What do mommas and daddies say to a seven-year-old child about this issue? I don’t know,” Skelton said. “I think it would be a family issue that would concern me the most … What they might see in their discussions among the kids.”

Read Rogin’s entire piece, but Skelton seems to be leaving the door ajar in case Obama wants to possibly trade F-35 figher engine development for Sklelton giving Don’t Ask Don’t Tell a pass.
That’s something that the kids — and their parents — ought to be a lot more disgusted by.

One would hope that politicians representing the American South might find it possible — eventually — to get ahead on some civil rights issue. Given the unacceptable, behavior this week of Representative Bob Etheridge, another Democratic Party opponent of Don’t Ask Don’t Repeal, in which Etheridge accosts a student on the street, I don’t have much hope of that.
Democrats need to realize that they have lurking in their own party disturbing tendencies that need to be rebuffed and checked — not respected.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

12 comments on “Ike Skelton: The “Helen Thomas” in Congress on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell?

  1. Don Bacon says:

    The “point of the United States military” which Skelton understands very well currently is to suck up vast sums of money doing nonsensical operational things like occupying other countries and destroying their cities, and the major point (of this thread) is not the contention that females are generally worthless but that sexual orientation does not limit said “point of the United States military”.

    Reply

  2. drew says:

    Perhaps Skelton understands that the point of the United States
    military is to defend the country, and that the open, and
    unanswered question, is whether or not homosexual individuals
    in front-line combat units improve, or diminish, combat
    effectiveness.
    Now, I understand that Wilkinson bought Clemons a drink and
    quoted the noted genre novelist (!!!) Mary Renault as evidence
    that the 300 were sexually ambiguous 2+ millenia ago. I
    suggest that some of the intellectuals here quote a forgotten
    genre fiction writer like Mary Renault as justification for
    employing a sexually-interested master sergeant, who has the
    power to order men to death. Then they can explain why this
    makes the US Marine Corps (thats pronounced ‘core’ not
    ‘corpse’, contrary to the president’s example) more effective
    than they are today.
    The Marines are not a vehicle for social advancement. They
    serve to defend our ability to foster an open and fair society.
    Any adjustment in personnel requirements should reflect this
    objective function. Wilkinson’s incoherent and trivializing
    rambling (lesbians don’t call in sick as often as straights! wow!)
    has nothing to do with the mission of the Marines or any other
    front-line combat force.
    When the Marines introduced females to the joys of lobbing
    grenades, they found that 45% of them couldn’t throw the damn
    steel far enough such that they wouldn’t blow up themselves or
    their buddies. Are we bigots because we don’t want to blow
    ourselves up in the name of social progress? Maybe not. I
    would prefer that the entire world fear the US Marines. There’s
    a greater chance that the world will respect American openness
    if there remains an America.

    Reply

  3. Carroll says:

    Who can be surprised?
    The repubs offer you a shot thru the brain and the dems offer you an overdose of morphine.
    Bang or whimper, take your pick.

    Reply

  4. P.S. Mueller says:

    When I hear remarks such as Skelton’s, I always end up scratching
    my bald head and muttering something like “How can it be that
    people like this wield actual power?” The man is giving idiots a bad
    name.

    Reply

  5. Don Bacon says:

    How does one explain to a seven year old kid, a youngster that just has a hell of time playing with anybody that’s friendly — how do you explain to this young citizen that there are some people that he’s not supposed to like? That there are some people that should be discriminated and excluded from his games because of whom they’ve chosen to be their best friends? What do mommas and daddies say to a seven-year-old child about this issue?
    If you’re Ike Skelton it’s simple, you just explain that these people aren’t “like us” and you shouldn’t have anything to do with them. Ike’s got it all figured out, don’t worry.
    Nice photo-op at the war memorial, too. Touching.

    Reply

  6. Paul Norheim says:

    I think I agree with basket case here. We all – public figures
    included – act like assholes once in a while, and publishing this
    at YouTube is to react with unproportional force. (And that was
    perhaps the whole point from the planning stage of this stunt).

    Reply

  7. basket case says:

    Oh I don’t know. Here I am a cranky old guy, a congressman walking back to work say after not getting any from my girlfriend. And these two stupid kids with a video camera jump in my face and ask some dumb question without even the courtesy of identifying themselves. I’d ask their names as well. I think they were nervous and the congressman intimidated them. So he’s a dick; the kids didn’t handle this well either.

    Reply

  8. David says:

    I’ve been a Democrat for 47 years, and a fan of the New Deal since childhood. Dad had a Stevenson bumper sticker on our ’39 Chevy, whcih had been put there by some black guys who worked with him at Clayton Construction.
    As a Southern Democrat, I have seen my Democratic Party at its very worst and its very best. Sadly, Ike Skelton, like segregationist Democrats who were otherwise decent folk (yes, they existed), is trapped in a time warp. Also, he is reflective of military brass who are also trapped in a time warp. For me, Ike Skelton is grasping at straws. For him, he is apparently offering a legitimate concern. For my relative who is a fundamentalist preacher, Ike Skelton is far too gentle in his comment. Fortunately, something like 70 percent of the population has grown beyond this nonsense, and nonsense it is, just as was segregation.

    Reply

  9. Sweetness says:

    Well, Etheridge’s political opponents have some sweet campaign footage. Unfortunately, the young man had to suffer. “Who are you?” is one of those phrases that will come back to haunt him if it’s used correctly.

    Reply

  10. MarkL says:

    Helens’ comments were not racially charged.
    There’s no need to bend over backwards to show your pro-Israel creds.
    If you (or anyone) shows half as much integrity as Helen Thomas through the course of your career, count yourself lucky.

    Reply

  11. Drew says:

    “…One would hope that politicians representing the American
    South might find it possible — eventually — to get ahead on
    some civil rights issue. Given the unacceptable, behavior this
    week of Representative Bob Etheridge, another Democratic Party
    opponent of Don’t Ask Don’t Repeal, in which Etheridge accosts
    a student on the street, I don’t have much hope of that.
    “Democrats need to realize that they have lurking in their own
    party disturbing tendencies that need to be rebuffed and
    checked …”
    I think, on balance, political discussions would be more pleasant
    if people wouldn’t somehow link personal creepiness with party
    affiliation or geography. (There is definitely a dark creepiness
    on display with Etheridge slapping, cuffing, and squeezing that
    kid — creepiness that crosses the line into misdemeanor
    assault.) I really don’t think northerners have cornered the
    available supply of virtue, or that Democratic Party members
    should somehow be more virtuous than their competitors.
    It seems to me, Steve, that you are somewhat pleased that this
    guy Etheridge has blown himself up on youtube, because you
    are linking his behavior with his vote against an issue you
    support. Shouldn’t the issue be won on the merits?

    Reply

  12. questions says:

    “What do mommas and daddies say to a seven-year-old child about this issue? I don’t know,” Skelton said. “I think it would be a family issue that would concern me the most … What they might see in their discussions among the kids.”
    Hmm, How about “Sometimes mommas love daddies and sometime mommas love mommas. Some kids are lucky enough to have two mommas or two daddies, and some kids have lots of uncles and aunts. And some kids have lots of friends. And some kids like milk shakes.”
    Regarding Etheridge — please note the Breitbart connection. Bad behavior for sure. But bad behavior quite deliberately provoked. Dems should just assume that a Breitbart plant is lurking and be on best public behavior at all times.

    Reply

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