This afternoon President Obama named Rep. John McHugh (R-NY) as his Secretary of the Army. McHugh is the ranking member on the House Armed Services Committee and his district includes the Ft. Drum Army Base.
McHugh will be responsible for addressing the Army's failed "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy but his congressional record provides few clues on his position. McHugh's record on gay and lesbian rights is relatively poor, Law Dork reports. "In the 110th Congress, McHugh was not a co-sponsor of the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, which would have repealed Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. In fact, McHugh on received an unimpressive 15% on the Human Rights Campaign’s Congressional Scorecard for the 110th. He was, however, one of 35 Republicans to vote 'yes' on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act." The congressman also voted twice for the proposed constitutional ban on marriage equality, and once against gay adoptions in Washington D.C.
At today's White House press briefing, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs assured The Advocate's Kerry Eleveld that McHugh agrees with the president that "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" ... should be "changed."
ELEVELD: On the nomination of Representative McHugh, last year, during the "don't ask, don't tell" hearings, he expressed a deep desire to move forward with a review of the policy and he said, "I would hope and encourage both the Department of Defense and the various services to reconsider the reluctance they have displayed to this point." Was a review of the policy something that the president took into consideration with this nomination and will Congressman McHugh be encouraged to move forward with talks inside the department?
GIBBS: I think it's obvious from those statements and other statements that Congressman McHugh has made that he and the president are in agreement on changing the policy they both don't think is working for this country right now. And it's a priority of the president's and I think for any number of reasons we have a nominee that we hope will be confirmed quickly and will have—ah, based on his background and experience—will help to improve the lives of the Army.
AFTER THE JUMP, watch Obama introduce the new army secretary, and, via Think Progress, watch the White House press briefing q&a. Not sure what to make of this. On the downside, the administration continues to appoint Republicans to lead the military and that reinforces the discredited notion the GOP is (allegedly) better on national security. On the upside, in terms of DADT, maybe it will help to have conservatives leading the "change" on the policy. This could be a shrewd plan to blunt Republican opposition to the "change."