Saturday, March 13, 2010


My February blog about gays in the military drew a generally favorable comment from AnOldSoldier77, who took me to task for using the phrase ‘military mucky mucks’ to describe Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen.

Far be it for an old judge to pick a fight with an old soldier, but I must have a further word on the subject.

First off, he is quite right in saying that the phrase ‘mucky muck’ has a somewhat negative connotation. While the primary dictionary definition is merely “a high ranking government or corporate official,” the phrase has a secondary suggestion of one who has been elevated beyond his or her competence.

I confess that the negative sense of the phrase is exactly what I intended to convey.

As I viewed the hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, and as it was later reported in the media, Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen were both insisting that the armed forces they represent were diligently developing guidelines for a new policy which would comply with President Obama’s State of the Union call for abolition of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’

Here were two men who have taken an oath to support and defend the constitution of the United States who apparently believe it is their duty to support and defend the political positions of the Commander in Chief.

The President of the United States is commissioned by the Constitution to ‘take care that the laws are faithfully executed.’ He does not make the laws. Laws are made by the Congress.

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is the law of the land, duly enacted by the Congress of the United States.

The authority of the President as Commander in Chief does not make him a dictator with power to order military personnel to disobey, ignore or oppose the laws enacted by the Congress.

Members of the armed forces are not functionaries of the Obama administration. They are under no obligation to carry a brief for the President’s political agenda. Neither do they, by reason of their oath, surrender their rights as citizens of the United States, to entertain, express and advance their own views of public policy.

And that includes the question of gays in the military.

Just a few weeks ago we read that Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council, a former Marine described as an ordained minister of the gospel, who had been invited to give a devotional talk at the National Prayer Luncheon at Andrews Air Force Base, was summarily ‘uninvited’ to speak.

The letter from the Air Force Chaplain’s office canceling his appearance made reference to Perkins’ support of the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy and attempted to justify the affront saying that Perkins’ opinions were “incompatible with our role as military members who serve our elected officials and our commander in chief.”

It would be my opinion that any officer who thinks it is his role to serve the commander in chief has been elevated beyond his competence and therefore deserves to be called a mucky muck.

The military oath requires members of the armed forces to obey the orders of the President of the United States and of all superior officers according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

It says nothing about “serving” the president or pandering to his wishes or advancing his political initiatives.

Or silencing those who disagree with him.


  1. I can't top your blog on this one. You're right.

  2. The military in a revolutionary democracy also has the responsiblity of protecting personal freedom, including the freedom of its gay soldiers to engage in private, consensual sexual activity that is now legal in a civilian setting. Discharging capable soldiers because they are gay damages readiness and pandering to religious bigotry by some soldiers does not. Moral scorn is no more protected under freedom of religion than yelling fire in a movie theater is protected under freedom of speech.