I really wonder what’s happening, subjectively, inside the heads of people who oppose repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Do any of them think they’re on the right side of history here? That people are going to look back from 2040 and say “if only we’d listened to John McCain thirty years ago?”
I've often wondered the same thought myself. I can't imagine that any but the most deluded souls are unaware where this debate is heading, or how it will be evaluated 30 years hence. The opponents of DADT repeal have to be aware that they will be considered villains by history.
In a sense, that makes it a little admirable (odd as that is to say). There is something to be said for looking history in the eye and standing on principle, knowing full well you are forever committing your name to disgrace. For the people whose opposition to gay equality is genuine and heartfelt, there is something rather amazing at their willingness to take on such a role. I disagree with such people stridently, and will do my utmost to ensure that they are inscribed as villains sooner rather than later, but such deep commitment is a rare thing.
Of course, that only applies to those whose opposition stems from heartfelt commitment. For those who act this way for the sake of short-term political expediency -- or worse, pettiness and spite -- it's just sad.