This morning's Washington Post includes a must-read by columnist Dana Milbank, who dissects and deciphers yesterday's testimony by Elaine Donnelly at the Congressional "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" hearings. Milbank reports:
Donnelly treated the panel to an extraordinary exhibition of rage. She warned of 'transgenders in the military.' She warned that lesbians would take pictures of people in the shower. She spoke ominously of gays spreading 'HIV positivity' through the ranks.
Her written statement added warnings about 'inappropriate passive/aggressive actions common in the homosexual community,' the prospects of 'forcible sodomy' and 'exotic forms of sexual expression,' and the case of 'a group of black lesbians who decided to gang-assault' a fellow soldier.
And she did it all with her own, very special, sense of "style."
Cloaked in bigotry and all wrapped up in pearls, Ms. Donnelly gave what was, even for her, an outlandish, offensive and patently absurd performance before the committee. Because Elaine, you see, really is a little like Madonna. No matter what you think of her talent (or her acting skills), whenever she shows up, you know it will be entertaining and that she'll put on a show.
Rep. Vic Snyder (D-Ark.) labeled her statement 'just bonkers' and 'dumb' and he called her claims about an HIV menace 'inappropriate.'
'By this analysis . . . we ought to recruit only lesbians for the military, because they have the lowest incidence of HIV in the country,' Snyder said.
Donnelly, severe in a black jacket with a flag pin on her lapel . . . attacked the 'San Francisco left who want to impose their agenda on the military. She spoke of the 'devastating' effect gay soldiers would have on the military and said 'people who do have religious convictions' would be driven out of the military by the 'sexualized atmosphere.'
"We are not talking about a Hollywood role here," Donnelly lectured the lawmakers. But if they had been, she would have surely won a Golden Globe for best actress in her one-woman production of Mourning Becomes Elaine. For surely she knew her crusade died that day.
Yes, even Donnelly - she of the always unflappable hair - seemed flapped (and slapped around) by the experience she was made to endure. And by what must have been a very bitter end to Elaine's long day, she seemed to have silently recognized the reality she fought so hard to deter. Donnelly's long, dark skirt seemed appropriate for a funeral; the law she had fought to defend was one giant leap closer to withering away.
And by the time she left the room, her hair still hadn't moved. But her cloak - and her reputation - were both far more tarnished than when she went in.
(You can also read my account, from inside the hearing room, of yesterday's debate, online here.)
Photo by Melina Mara -- The Washington Post.