"Mike Mullen's 42 years in the military earned him a chest full of ribbons, but never did he do something braver that what he did on Capitol Hill on Tuesday," began Milbank's Feb. 3 ode to the admiral. "In a packed committee room, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff looked hostile Republican senators in the eye and told them unwelcome news: He thinks gays should be allowed to serve openly in the armed forces he commands."
"If they awarded decorations for congressional testimony, Mullen would have himself a Medal of Honor," concluded the columnist.
Mullen explained his "personal belief" to the Senate Armed Services "that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly would be the right thing to do."
"No matter how I look at the issues, I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens," he elaborated. "For me personally, it comes down to integrity - theirs as individuals and ours as an institution."
Milbank's praise of Mullen's testimony is a complete 180 from how he characterized the testimony of Elaine Donnelly at a House Armed Services personnel subcommittee hearing about the same topic in 2008.
Donnelly, the founder and president of the Center for Military Readiness, testified in favor of keeping the current policy that bans openly gay and lesbian people from the nation's military.
In "Sorry We Asked, Sorry You Told," Milbank urged his readers, "Whatever you do, don't ask Elaine Donnelly to tell you what she thinks about gays in the military."
Milbank continued to vilify Donnelly throughout his account of her testimony, stating that she "treated the panel to an extraordinary exhibition of rage," that she "amused lawmakers the most," and "it was tempting to think that Donnelly had been chosen by the Democrats to sabotage the case against open military service for homosexuals."
The insults directed at Donnelly didn't stop there. Milbank also noted the comments of the Democrat Arkansas Rep. Vic Snyder who "labeled her statement ‘just bonkers' and ‘dumb.'"
In contrast to his take on the 2008 House hearing, Milbank noted the "challenges to [Mullen's] integrity" and heralded that "Mullen did not bend." Milbank also claimed that "opponents" of the current ban on gays in the military "will doubtless point to [Mullen's testimony] - until now heresy for a top military officer - as a turning point."
"Supporters of the policy evidently grasped that, too, for they turned against the admiral with caustic words," he continued.
Milbank failed to praise Donnelly's unbending nature as she presented her case, as he did with Mullen. He didn't note the challenges to her integrity. And he surely did not recommend that Donnelly receive honors for her testimony.