'This Week' Transcript: Powell and Dudley

PAGE: The Vietnam era, thank you.

TAPPER: Got to be precise, got to be precise.

PAGE: For the record, never saw combat, were never in Vietnam...

(CROSSTALK)

PAGE: I was in the service for two years. And surprise, surprise, there were homosexuals in the service 40 years ago, and 400 years ago, for that matter. The thing is -- the thing is, the military does have its own culture, and that needs to be respected. This was dealt with in a way that -- you know, people whom you knew personally you would cover for them if you liked them. If you didn't, maybe not, you know, I mean, that kind of thing.

But nonsense now. I mean, this younger generation is beyond that. The only question I have now -- and this, too, is serious -- how much recognition are we going to have? How normalizing is it going to be? If you've got two gay military people who decide they want to get married in Massachusetts or Iowa or whatever, they want to live in base housing that is for married couples, how will the military handle that?

And those are the kind of nuts-and-bolts questions that I think the commanders are going over now. That's why this year-long study is necessary.

But I think as far -- this train's left the station. It's going to happen.

WILL: Exactly. For people of Matt's son's generation, being gay is like being left-handed. It's not really very interesting.

Now, you do raise a point. I mean, there is a gap -- a different culture between the military and the civilians, and we want it that way, because we ask them to make terrible sacrifices and do difficult things.

That said, I was struck by your interview with General Powell and the demonstration that from '93 to now, 17 years is a very long time in the United States. The Supreme Court has a famous phrase it used in some opinion, the evolving standards of decency that mark a maturing society. Clearly these are evolving, and the case is over, basically.

TAPPER: The case is over. But why is there such a fight by Republican officeholders? If you look at polling...

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: ... the public is overwhelmingly supportive of lifting the ban. Conservatives support it. Republicans support it. White evangelicals support it. What's going on with the Republicans in Congress?

WILL: They're not being very intelligent.

(LAUGHTER)

PAGE: Thank you.

TAPPER: All right. Moving on to another topic, there was a lot of sturm und drang and debate and kerfuffle -- and intrigue over the whole question of what the White House offered Congressman Joe Sestak in order to not run against Arlen Specter. It came out at the end of the week that President Clinton had offered Sestak, according to this story, a non-paying job to not run. Here is Congressman Sestak and one of the big Republicans leading the charge for a special prosecutor, Darrell Issa.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SESTAK: I merely looked at this as just another effort by the Democratic establishment in Washington, D.C., not to have me in the race.

(UNKNOWN): So was it inappropriate or was it not?

SESTAK: No, President Clinton -- there was nothing wrong that was done.

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