STILL INSULTING THE BRASS…. In case we needed additional evidence, Rick Santorum reminded us yesterday that the days of Republican deference towards America’s military leadership are over.

Former Republican senator Rick Santorum accused military leaders on Saturday of having become so “indoctrinated” with political correctness that they can no longer “see straight.”

The Pennsylvania arch-conservative was specifically referring to the brass’s support of a repeal of the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy. A long-time opponent of gay rights, Santorum expressed concern that changing the law would sap the readiness and effectiveness of the armed forces. […]

Addressing how the military leadership, led by Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mike Mullen, could now favor a repeal of the law, Santorum raised the specter of brainwashing.

“Political correctness is reigning in the military right now,” he said. “”Some people say: [Do] whatever the generals say [on DADT]. I’m not too sure that we haven’t so indoctrinated the officer corps in this country that they can actually see straight to make the right decision.”

Mark Kleiman noted, “Maybe dissing the brass is good political strategy for the right wing, but I wouldn’t have thought so.”

But what’s especially interesting to me is that prominent GOP voices keep dissing the brass. When Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen told the Senate Armed Services Committee that it’s time to let gay servicemen and women serve openly in the U.S. military, conservative Republican senators didn’t hesitate to challenge not only the military leaders’ judgment, but also their integrity.

The military establishment wants civilian trials for accused terrorists; Republicans don’t care. The military establishment wants to see the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay close; Republicans don’t care. The military establishment opposes torture; Republicans don’t care.

Keep in mind, it wasn’t too terribly long ago that Democratic politicians simply weren’t supposed to say that Petraeus, Gates, Mullen, and intelligence leaders were wrong about national security matters. Indeed, for Dems to say that they knew better than Petraeus, et al — that Democratic judgment was superior to military leaders’ — was grounds for mockery, if not condemnation.

But when Santorum insulted the brass, the CPAC crowd was only too pleased to hear it. The leadership of the U.S. military are on the same page as the Democratic establishment, which means they, too, must feel the right’s wrath.

Our ideas can save democracy... But we need your help! Donate Now!

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.