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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

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Bush shouldn’t get military vote

 
 

On May 1, 2003, the sailors of the USS Abraham Lincoln were delayed getting to port after a 10-month voyage because President George W. Bush, who was scheduled to make a speech declaring the end of major combat operations in Iraq on the aircraft carrier, was sleeping. Unfortunately, this incident was only one in a disturbing pattern in Bush’s disregard for the needs of America’s military. Although most voting members of the military are expected to support the president in his reelection bid this fall, the president has not earned their vote.
Twice, Bush has attempted to manufacture photo opportunities using the military as a backdrop. The USS Lincoln incident, when the president unnecessarily donned a flight suit and arrived via jet (even though the carrier was in helicopter range), was the first. Later that year, Bush was shown carrying a fake turkey while visiting troops in Baghdad during Thanksgiving.
Preposterously, some soldiers who walked as much as 15 minutes to the Bob Hope facility to see the president and get a Thanksgiving meal were denied entrance for security reasons, according to a letter to the editor in the military newspaper, The Stars and Stripes. Bush’s visit to Iraq was supposed to be a morale builder for the troops, but how can turning soldiers away when they come to see you build morale?
Regrettably, Bush has made even worse decisions regarding the uniformed men and women in Iraq. In one case, it has literally been a life and death matter. When the war in Iraq was starting, only ground combat troops were issued potentially life – saving Kevlar vests. Only now is the Pentagon working to get these vests to all soldiers in Iraq, nearly a year after the war began. As commander in chief, it was Bush’s responsibility to ensure that all of the troops in Iraq had these vests, but he failed miserably.
Last summer, The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the Bush administration approved a Pentagon plan to rollback an increase in “imminent danger pay” from $225 to $150. A wave of negative publicity ensued. This included a scathing editorial by The Army Times on June 30, 2003, titled, “Nothing but Lip Service,” which stated, “President Bush and the Republican-controlled Congress have missed no opportunity to heap richly-deserved praise on the military. But talk is cheap – and getting cheaper by the day, judging from the nickel-and-dime treatment the troops are getting lately.” It was only after receiving negative media attention that Bush signed a bill that kept the combat pay raises in place.
The Bush administration has also been malicious when it comes to veterans’ benefits. In 2003, Bush submitted a proposal to Congress that slashed funding for a veteran’s health care program by $1.8 billion.
Current Democratic presidential candidate and Vietnam veteran John Kerry criticized this move, according to The San Antonio Express News.
But he wasn’t the only one, as several veterans’ groups also criticized the cut. As if his policy decision concerning the military wasn’t bad enough, service members must suffer the indignity of knowing Bush has not – and will not – attend any funerals of those killed in Iraq. Some have argued the president can’t show signs of weakness during his campaign on terror and attending funerals with large amounts of media coverage will only encourage more attacks by Iraqi insurgents.
But this reasoning is weak. It would be better if Bush attended funerals and delivered the message that the United States will get the job done in Iraq no matter what. Nonetheless, Bush is willing to send Americans to die in an unnecessary war but is not willing to attend any of their funerals.
This is a slap in the face to those willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
Despite all this, Bush will most likely be supported by the majority of military voters. The biggest reason why this is so is the stronghold Republicans have over U.S. service members. The Army Times reports that while only one-third of Americans identify with the GOP, a whopping 57 percent of service members surveyed by The Military Times consider themselves Republican. And even though the military is increasingly composed of women and minorities – groups traditionally loyal to the Democratic Party – even they lean conservative, according to Salon.com.
Still, military members should seriously consider the actions Bush has taken in his three years in office. Any honest appraisal will reveal Bush doesn’t deserve their valuable votes.

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