Wednesday, June 11, 2008

No to Nunn?

Continuing the veepstakes guessing and preemptive vetting (see below), Jonathan Capehart of the Washington Post says that there’s a good reason to strike former Georgia Senator Sam Nunn from the list.

As chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee in 1993, Nunn helped lead the fight against allowing gay men and lesbians to serve openly in the military and was the force behind the disastrous “don’t ask, don’t tell” compromise. In the process, Nunn engendered the enduring enmity of a loyal voting and fundraising bloc of the Democratic Party.


Already, the prospect of an Obama-Nunn ticket does not sit well with some prominent gay Democratic fundraisers. “It would without question irrevocably diminish my enthusiasm for the democratic ticket,” a longtime Clinton supporter told me in an e-mail. “Sam Nunn not only opposed [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people’s] rights to serve in the military, he viciously campaigned against it.”

Famously, Nunn led lawmakers on a tour of cramped submarine quarters and showers, an exercise that many viewed as a crass attempt to raise an ick factor of homosexuals living among straight troops. As if gay men and lesbians are devoid of discipline and incapable of defending this country.

I realize that there’s no perfect choice out there — you can make an argument against just about anyone on the list — but I have to say that this history of prejudice and exclusion makes it tough for a lot of people to accept the idea of Mr. Nunn on the ticket. On the other hand, his background in defense and foreign policy provides the ticket with a good balance of both southern votes and long experience in an area where Mr. Obama is lacking. But is it worth it to have a person on the ticket who heretofore has shown such an attitude towards a significant segment of the population?