Bittersweet Change of Position

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Recalling Justice Powell’s famous recantation of his vote in Bowers v. Hardwick, former chairman of the Joint Chief of Staffs under President Clinton John M. Shalikashvili has changed his position on gays and lesbians in the military. He now says that the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy should be abandoned and gays and lesbians should be able to serve freely.

I find recantations like Shalikashvili’s and Powell’s entirely bittersweet. Yes, it’s great that someone of public import speaks out on such an important topic in a now-enlightened way, but it doesn’t take away the sting of the damage they did when they actually were in positions of power.

– David S. Cohen

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0 Responses to Bittersweet Change of Position

  1. kathy a says:

    Justice Blackman in Callins v. Collins, stating [near his retirement] that he would “no longer tinker with the machinery of death” because after the country’s long experiment with capital punishment, he determined that it was impossible to make the process fair. His views have held no sway, although correct.

    Robert McNamera, architect of the escalation of the Vietnam War [including “Project 100,000,” which involved lowering enlistment standards to avoid expanding the draft to men with deferments, and then selling this magnificently disasterous plan as a “job training” program to lift disadvantaged youth out of poverty], who later repudiated the war as unwise. 58,000 of our troops dead, and countless wounded physically or psychically; and much higher rates of death, injury, and PTSD among the formerly unqualified enlistees. Even his confessional book did not acknowledge scooping up poor folk with limited cognitive resources to use as cannon fodder, so I’ve always felt more bitter than sweet about McNamera.

  2. NRapoport says:

    Yep–a bit like Bob McNamara regretting the Vietnam war.