At a moment when John McCain needs money, volunteers, and good press, it would have been easy to ride this bill's coattails into a patriotic lovefest. It would have been easy to turn a blind eye to the misguided finances and staffing consequences, support the legislation, and stick taxpayers with the bill. It would have been easy - but it would not have been right.
After Obama criticized McCain's non-support of the bill, McCain commented on RealClearPolitics (thank you Blogs4McCain for the tip, emphasis is mine):
"It is typical, but no less offensive, that Senator Obama uses the Senate floor to take cheap shots at an opponent and easy advantage of an issue he has less than zero understanding of. Let me say first in response to Senator Obama, running for President is different than serving as President. The
office comes with responsibilities so serious that the occupant can't always take the politically easy route without hurting the country he is sworn to defend. Unlike Senator Obama, my admiration, respect and deep gratitude for America's veterans is something more than a convenient campaign pledge. I think
I have earned the right to make that claim...(snip)....But I am running for the office of Commander-in-Chief. That is the highest privilege in this country, and it imposes the greatest responsibilities. It would be easier politically for me to have joined Senator Webb in offering his legislation.... "
BUT...it wouldn't be right. McCain comments that the Webb bill could cut the armed forces by as much as 16% - at a time when, as progress is finally happening in the Middle East, we can least afford it. McCain and two other Senators, proposed an alternative benefit package which would incentivize longer military service:
"Senators Graham, Burr and I have offered legislation that would...increase monthly education benefits to $1500; eliminate the $1200 enrollment fee; and offer a $1000 annually for books and supplies. Importantly, we would allow veterans to transfer those benefits to their spouses or dependent children or use a part of them to pay down existing student loans. We also increase benefits to the Guard and Reserve, and even more generously to those who serve in the Selected Reserve...."
Finally, McCain says what we supporters have been saying for months on the top of our lungs - Obama's complete lack of military experience clearly affects his judgment on military issues. And McCain's not gonna take it:
"I take a backseat to no one in my affection, respect and devotion to veterans. And I will not accept from Senator Obama, who did not feel it was his responsibility to serve our country in uniform, any lectures on my regard for those who did."
To borrow a phrase, bully for you, John McCain. Bully for you! THIS is the man we need as our Commander in Chief. Not all of us can serve in uniform, but we can all take action today to make sure our military leadership is qualified, experienced, and principled.
* This Memorial Day, please thank a veteran for their service to America. Stay tuned for more news from military families and veterans supporting John McCain for Commander-in-Chief! *