Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Setting the Tone

When I commanded soldiers and pilots in the Army I was taught that "the commander sets the tone" for the unit. In other words, by my actions, work ethic, the things I said I set an example for my men (they were all men at the time) and determined how the unit would function. Many years of experience taught me that there was a very large kernel of truth to that old military trope.

It's also why I will not be fooled by the spin that is already following General Peter Pace's remarks on homosexuality yesterday. The Pentagon and White House are already saying that the Boston Globe asked General Pace's personal views and he gave them.

But in the military - especialy at the Joint Chiefs level - there are no personal views. Most especially not when they are broadcast on the national media and replayed endlessly by the talking heads.

The new Democratic majority has made it known that "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" may be on their target list and Pace's remarks, orchestrated as they must have been by the administration are a first shot across the bow. And while Rove and Co. only care about the politics, they may have unleashed something altogether different.

Because, you see, "the commander sets the tone."

And Pace's tone yesterday was as narrow-minded and intolerant as any backwoods homophobe. He has just told every soldier, sailor and airman that it's okay - still okay - to treat homosexuals as second class citizen-soldiers.

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