A Question of Character
Hey, look at this: John McCain is lying about his role in creating public policy! Doesn't that sound to you like a character issue?
An Arizona Republican, McCain has all but locked up the Republican presidential nomination and is preparing for a fall campaign in which his support of the Iraq war is sure to be a major issue. Yet the former Navy pilot and Vietnam POW makes himself a target by refusing to endorse Webb’s new GI education bill and instead signing on to a Republican alternative that focuses more on career soldiers than on the great majority who leave after their first four years.
Undaunted, Webb, who was a Marine infantry officer in Vietnam, is closing in on the bipartisan support needed to overcome procedural hurdles in the Senate, where the cost of his package — estimated now at about $52 billion over 10 years — is sure to be an issue. But McCain’s support would seal the deal like nothing else, and the new Republican bill, together with a letter of opposition Tuesday from Defense Secretary Robert Gates, threatens to peel off support before the Democrat gets to the crucial threshold of 60 votes.
“There are fundamental differences,” McCain told Politico. “He creates a new bureaucracy and new rules. His bill offers the same benefits whether you stay three years or longer. We want to have a sliding scale to increase retention. I haven’t been in Washington, but my staff there said that his has not been eager to negotiate.”
“He’s so full of it,” Webb said in response. “I have personally talked to John three times. I made a personal call to [McCain aide] Mark Salter months ago asking that they look at this.”
Put aside for a moment the fact that McCain's bill would basically hold soldiers hostage inside the military the same way employees are held hostage at their jobs for health care benefits. Put aside that the goal of the McCain bill is not honoring the service of our veterans but making sure enough people are locked into the military to fight all the extra wars he wants to wage. And put aside that the current benefit levels, which McCain's bill seeks to for the most part freeze, are insufficient to the task of covering the cost of higher education.
This is McCain's shtick. He looks to control the stakes of bipartisanship and define it as "everyone agree with me," and he'll lie about your intentions if you dare to defy him. Webb's GI Bill has 57 co-sponsors, pressure is being applied (good on Alaska Senate candidate Mark Begich to trap Ted Stevens on this), and then McCain barrels in, offers his own competing measure and threatens to blow up the whole deal, all because he didn't come up with it himself in the first place.
Now, aren't those VALUES we could all use as a guide to making our choice in November? The fact that McCain puts his ego above the treatment of veterans is one thing, but the idea that he has no faithfulness to the truth and will take credit and impute bad motives at the drop of a hat, all in the name of receiving glory for himself - aren't those QUALITIES that we should consider when making a choice for President?
Or should we just send him to a bowling alley and see how he does, instead?
...oh yeah, and where is McCain on the horrendous condition of our stateside military barracks like the one at Fort Bragg? If he wants to keep all these soldiers in the military, shouldn't we be providing slightly better conditions than a river of shit? Has anyone bothered to ask him? Or any of the Democratic candidates? This happened in the upcoming primary state of North Carolina, fercryinoutloud! ... UPDATE: Sen. Clinton has called for a Congressional probe into the Fort Bragg barracks, and I'm glad to see she has done so.