(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