‘Jam through’ makes a comeback

‘JAM THROUGH’ MAKES A COMEBACK…. Throughout the debate on health care reform, Republicans would routinely complain that if lawmakers voted to pass legislation they approved of, it was evidence of “jamming through” bills.

The odd phrase is back.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) lamented on Tuesday what he said were efforts to “jam through” a repeal of the military’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

McCain, the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he welcomed a review of the military’s prohibition on openly gay and lesbian servicemembers, but was chilly toward a deal struck by congressional Democrats and the White House on a roadmap to abolish the policy.

“This ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ issue, they’re going to try to jam that through without even trying to figure out what the impact on battle effectiveness would be,” McCain said on KBLU radio in Arizona.

In the abstract, McCain’s credibility on the issue is already non-existent. The senator publicly assured voters that he would reverse course on DADT “the day that the leadership of the military comes to me and says, ‘Senator, we ought to change the policy.'” That happened in February, when Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen told McCain it’s time to end the policy. McCain not only ignored them, he also questioned their integrity.

But putting that aside, McCain’s complaints are rather foolish on substantive grounds. For one thing, when lawmakers approve a measure by voting for it, this isn’t an example of trying to “jam through” legislation. By McCain’s reasoning, literally every vote in Congress is evidence of the majority trying to “jam” something through.

For another, the notion that policymakers aren’t “even trying to figure out what the impact on battle effectiveness would be” suggests McCain isn’t paying attention to current events. Thanks to multiple congressional hearings, lawmakers should already be well aware of the expected impact of the new policy. What’s more, as part of the agreement reached yesterday, implementation of the DADT repeal would be delayed until after the Pentagon review is complete in December, and even then, would take effect only after the administration concluded that the new policy will not adversely affect military readiness, recruitment, and retention.

Does McCain not understand what that means? Or is he just appearing on radio shows, talking about subjects without getting his facts straight?

In the meantime, a new CNN poll shows support for DADT repeal at a whopping 78% of the public. CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said support for the Democratic proposal “is widespread, even among Republicans.”

I guess they haven’t heard the powerful and persuasive “jam through” talking point yet?

Update: In related news, Pentagon chief Robert Gates, who wanted Congress to wait until after the December review was published, “can accept” the agreement reached by Democratic policymakers yesterday.