Gays’ Payoff Scandal

The issue of gays in the military has just taken a surprising new turn. And it might reveal why President Clinton has been pushing this issue so hard. The surprise came when the president announced he will consider certain limits on gays in the military. Clinton said he is open to the idea of different policies for gay and straight soldiers-just as there are different policies for men and women soldiers. Gays might be housed in separate barracks, for example, and restricted from certain positions, like jobs aboard combat vessels. The reaction from gay rights groups was swift and fierce. Several major gay donors threatened to stop raising money for Democratic candidates. The Human Rights Campaign Fund, a gay fund-raising group, urged gays to intensify their lobbying pressure. In last year's election, gay donors across the country raised an estimated $3.5 million for Democratic candidates. In essence, gays are saying, It's time to cash in on the influence we bought fair and square with our campaign dollars. That may be stating it crassly, but this sort of thing has always been denounced in the sharpest terms. I remember vividly an incident that happened when I worked in the Nixon White House. The Justice Department was pressing an antitrust case against IT&T (International Telephone and Telegraph). The company launched a massive lobbying campaign inside the administration, until finally Nixon ordered the Justice Department to settle with IT&T. Later it was discovered that, around the same time, IT&T had promised to make a financial contribution of $400,000 to the Republican Party. Immediately several observers assumed that the company had essentially bribed Nixon to drop the case. The press bristled with moral indignation. Congressional hearings were held. Columnist Jack Anderson wrote an expose. Outraged critics charged that IT&T had tried to buy government favors. It was dubbed "the IT&T payoff scandal." The whole thing dragged on for months. In the end there was no evidence to link the administration's action to the IT&T contribution. But the point is that the press was eager to jump on even the slimmest evidence that a president had been "bought"-that he was granting special favors in exchange for contributions. Where is that moral outrage today? Gays are openly arguing that they supported the Clinton campaign and now have a right to demand favorable policies. They're practically boasting that they "bought" the president. Yet the media is greeting it all with a bored yawn. You know, it's been a real puzzle to me why President Clinton is squandering so much of his political capital by pushing the issue of gays in the military. I hate to say it, but maybe the gay groups are right: Maybe those 3.5 million dollars are the real reason. And if a president can be bought for 3.5 million pieces of silver, our body politic is seriously ailing. C.S. Lewis once said, "A sick society must think much about politics, as a sick man must think much about his digestion." American politics is infected to the marrow with self-seeking and cynicism. It's time we diagnosed the illness, and started calling for medicine: a large dose of integrity.


Chuck Colson


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