On Memorial Day Times Accuses Bush of "Having Squandered Soldiers' Lives" in Iraq
On Memorial Day, the Times lead editorial states that soldiers' lives are being wasted in Iraq while excoriating President Bush. The thrust behind paper's lead editorial, "Mr. Bush and the G.I. Bill," is less about the bill that passed the Senate before the Memorial Day recess and more about the paper's seething rage against Bush and the Iraq War, though it hits McCain on a bank shot as well.
President Bush opposes a new G.I. Bill of Rights. He worries that if the traditional path to college for service members since World War II is improved and expanded for the post-9/11 generation, too many people will take it.
He is wrong, but at least he is consistent. Having saddled the military with a botched, unwinnable war, having squandered soldiers' lives and failed them in so many ways, the commander in chief now resists giving the troops a chance at better futures out of uniform. He does this on the ground that the bill is too generous and may discourage re-enlistment, further weakening the military he has done so much to break.
So lavish with other people's sacrifices, so reckless in pouring the national treasure into the sandy pit of Iraq, Mr. Bush remains as cheap as ever when it comes to helping people at home.
Besides the contempt for Bush, that last line epitomizes the liberal mindset of the president as king dispending gifts to grateful servants while ignoring the fact that it's our money being spent, not just gifts to troops.
Deeper into the editorial, the Times drug John McCain into the mix (after all, what's he ever done for his country?).
Mr. Bush - and, to his great discredit, Senator John McCain - have argued against a better G.I. Bill, for the worst reasons. They would prefer that college benefits for service members remain just mediocre enough that people in uniform are more likely to stay put.
They have seized on a prediction by the Congressional Budget Office that new, better benefits would decrease re-enlistments by 16 percent, which sounds ominous if you are trying - as Mr. Bush and Mr. McCain are - to defend a never-ending war at a time when extended tours of duty have sapped morale and strained recruiting to the breaking point.
Their reasoning is flawed since the C.B.O. has also predicted that the bill would offset the re-enlistment decline by increasing new recruits - by 16 percent. The chance of a real shot at a college education turns out to be as strong a lure as ever. This is good news for our punishingly overburdened volunteer army, which needs all the smart, ambitious strivers it can get.
Of course, most officers would rather deal with experienced troops than a series of fresh recruits.
This page strongly supports a larger, sturdier military. It opposes throwing ever more money at the Pentagon for defense programs that are wasteful and poorly conceived. But as a long-term investment in human capital, in education and job training, there is no good argument against an expanded, generous G.I. Bill.
By threatening to veto it, Mr. Bush is showing great consistency of misjudgment. Congress should forcefully show how wrong he is by overriding his opposition and spending the money - an estimated $52 billion over 10 years, a tiniest fraction of the ongoing cost of Mr. Bush's Iraq misadventure.
As partial repayment for the sacrifice of soldiers in a time of war, a new, improved G.I. Bill is as wise now as it was in 1944.
Showing awelcome if belated toughness as Bush nears the end of his term, White House press secretary Dana Perino worked on Memorial Day and responded, in part:
Once again, the New York Times Editorial Board doesn't let the facts get in the way of expressing its vitriolic opinions - no matter how misleading they may be.
In today's editorial, "Mr. Bush and the GI Bill," the New York Times irresponsibly distorts President Bush's strong commitment to strengthening and expanding support for America's service members and their families.
This editorial could not be farther from the truth about the President's record of leadership on this issue. In his January 2008 State of the Union Address, while proposing a series of initiatives to support our military families, President Bush specifically called upon Congress to answer service members' request that they be able to transfer their GI Bill benefits to their spouses and children. In April, he sent a legislative package to the Hill that would expand access to childcare, create new authorities to appoint qualified spouses into civil service jobs, provide education opportunities and job training for military spouses, and allow our troops to transfer their unused education benefits to their spouses or children.
Though readers of the New York Times editorial page wouldn't know it, President Bush looks forward to signing a GI bill that supports our troops and their families, and preserves the experience and skill of our forces.
Last year the Times marked Memorial Day without any editorial, but featured a front-page story of disillusioned soldiers, while editorial board member Adam Cohen claimed Iraq was a "war sold on false pretenses."