Last night, The Rachel Maddow Show delivered a
powerful hour of television. Aside from a segment dedicated to Tuesday’s
primary elections, the entire hour was dedicated to the issue of our military’s
“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy including three first-time interviews with
people affected by DADT.
Rachel started with the story of Captain Jonathan Hopkins, a promising officer who had more than
proven his potential in Iraq.
was discharged from the military under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Tuesday. This
was his first interview since being discharged.
Rachel prefaces the segment by detailing why Capt. Hopkins
had such a promising career — he placed fourth in his class at West Point,
earned three bronze stars and was set to be promoted to Major a year early,
among other accomplishments. It’s difficult not to be emotionally affected by
talk about how he was treated by his fellow soldiers, how he learned he was
facing a discharge and how he thought he would be able to give up his personal
happiness for the sake of his military career. It’s clear on his face what a
tough time Hopkins
is facing and how much his service to his country meant.
The next segment took a look at Cadet-Sgt. Katherine Miller, a top student at West
Point who resigned over the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. After explaining
why Miller’s record at West Point foreshadowed
a promising military career, Rachel interviewed Miller for the first time since
she offered her resignation.
Once again, it’s clear how much military service meant to
Miller and it’s hard not to think about how ridiculous it is for us to dismiss
that kind of dedication for something that does not affect performance.
Rachel asked both Miller and Hopkins what it’s like to be a
gay person in the military right now, a time when there’s hope for the policy
being repealed, but things are moving at a very slow pace. That brought Rachel
to review where we are in regards to repealing DADT.
Probably the most powerful clip is seeing Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach tell Allison Stewart about the time he was
able to meet with President Obama. Fehrenbach
emphasized the urgency he was facing, how the longer it took to repeat DADT,
the more likely he would lose his career. “We are going to get this done,” is
what President Obama told Lt. Col. Fehrenbach.
That, however, was last June and Fehrenbach’s discharge has continued
to move forward. He fears he may receive his discharge papers any day now and has
filed papers hoping to stop his discharge. This was Fehrenbach’s first interview
since filing those papers.
Fehrenbach and his lawyer are arguing that the evidence against
Fehrenbach should be dismissed under new, “more humane” guidelines for
implementing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” I remember when the new guidelines were
announced, my mind quickly turned to the case of how Fehrenbach was outed. The guidelines
perfectly fit his case as an example of a “Don’t’ Ask, Don’t Tell” discharge
that shouldn’t have happened. And, yet, the case against him continues to move
Rachel wrapped up the show with
a mention of White House press secretary Robert
Gibbs’ criticism of the “professional left” and a call that President Obama should
be “standing up fro what is right because (he) knows it is right.”
Rachel makes the case against “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” on several
fronts. She details investment we’ve made in people like Capt. Hopkins,
Cadet-Sgt. Miller and Lt Co. Fehrenbach, significant investments of time and
money. She points out the personal commitment GLBT soldiers have made. Then she
voices frustration at the slow pace of overturning “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”:
What’s the rush? Why are we kicking people out now, in the
meantime, while we are waiting for the views of the commander-in-chief and the
defense secretary and the chairman of the joint chiefs-of-staff to be
If you are changing the policy soon, why not hold off the
ruination of lives under the policy now, in the meantime? Why not do that?
I’ll tell you why. Because that would take some political
capital. That would take some guts.
And liberals, according to this White House, ought to be
drug tested if we’re expecting to see that from this White House right now.
Stop complaining and be happy for what you have.
Lieutenant Dan Choi, Colonel Fehrenbach and Captain Hopkins
and Cadet Sergeant Miller are all expendable, because doing what it would take
to save them would be hard for the White House. So go ahead and watch their
careers destroyed but stop complaining about it.
Somewhere out in the blogosphere, someone was inspired to
use the phrase “Rachel Maddow eviscerates” once more.
Gibbs clarified his comments, saying he watches too much
cable and gets frustrated. I can only hope he watched the entirety of this hour.
Rachel made it clear who has the most right to feel frustrated.