"When we sit around Thanksgiving dinner, I'm not going to be talking about ‘don't ask, don't tell," said Meghan McCain, who's called her father's position "embarrassing." Meanwhile, with the policy's fate uncertain, no one has been discharged this month.
We'll know for sure next week whether the Senate will actually take on Don't Ask Don't Tell; the Pentagon report is coming out on November 30. But in an interesting twist, new Pentagon protocol has already ensured that at least gay people aren't being kicked out. It used to be that even low-ranking officials could discharge someone for being outed, but now it has to go to one of the top three service secretaries. That's meant a chill on enforcement. Said one advocate:
"Statistically, it would be extremely unlikely if we had a month in which there were no gay discharges," Belkin said, noting that 428 gay and lesbian service members were honorably discharged under the ban in 2009. "When you require a service secretary to sign off on a discharge, you are basically saying, 'We don't want any people in this category discharged unless there is an exceptional situation.'"
It's no substitute for throwing the policy out and allowing gay service members to be treated like their peers, but it's a temporary relief.
In the meantime, anyone wondering about that McCain Thanksgiving, as Nancy Goldstein did in the American Prospect, will have to take the McCains' word for it. Maybe Cindy and Meghan need to have more faith in their powers of persuasion, just before John McCain is a decisive force on the possible repeal. Too much to ask?