This afternoon I participated in a blogger teleconference with John McCain to discuss the statements he made earlier today about how he foresees his first term in office. Because apparently it's very presidential to pretend that you've already won the election before you even officially have the Republican nomination.
First, I have to mention that MOMocrat Joanne Bamberger got a scoop on the call. In response to her questions and several follow up questions, he stated that he will appoint Democrats to his administration. (Assuming he has one. And you know what happens when you assume? You make an ass out of u and me.) After listening to her dogged questioning, I can understand why Joanne is such a great journalist. I bet she was a hell of a lawyer too!
The big news in John McCain's remarks this morning was, of course, his statement that,
By January 2013, America has welcomed home most of the servicemen and women who have sacrificed terribly so that America might be secure in her freedom.... The Iraq War has been won. Iraq is a functioning democracy, although still suffering from the lingering effects of decades of tyranny and centuries of sectarian tension....
Senator McCain didn't get to my question (although he did answer questions from MOMocrats Erin Kotecki-Vest and Joanne Bamberger). I couldn't believe that not one person asked exactly how McCain intends to change the course of the war so dramatically in 5 years. Because, despite McCain's claims that he's going to focus on what's "doable" I'm not seeing victory in Iraq, particularly in 5 years, as "doable."
I forwarded my questions to someone in his campaign in the hopes that he will answer them. Here they are in full:
- Senator, you said you agree that the war in Iraq was mishandled for the first 4 years. Can you give us some specifics about what you perceive as the current administration's mistakes in Iraq and what you would do differently to achieve such a marked decrease in violence in the region by 2013?
- Do you foresee adding troops or continuing the surge in the area? Or do you foresee implementing a national draft to increase troops with our current forces under such strain?
- You've stated that you are in favor of increasing GI Bill educational benefits for soldiers. I've also read that you, and others, believe that the educational benefit as currently implemented, encourages soldiers to leave the military in pursuit of education and that the length of time soldiers should serve before receiving benefits should be increased. Has there been any research on this issue or is this just based on supposition? It seems to me that any extended length of time might actually discourage some from joining the military.
While, I would love to receive answers regarding the first 2 questions, I don't expect to get back much of substance. What I really want to know is McCain's answer to my third question regarding GI Bill benefits.
While McCain made a point of mentioning on the call that he is in favor of increasing educational benefits for soldiers, he also indicated that he thinks we should work on ways to retain soldiers. What he didn't say is that he thinks the benefit should be increased, but soldiers should only be able to get it if they stay in longer.
For those of you unfamiliar with GI benefits, after a certain term in the military, usually 3-4 years, you receive a certain amount of money to use for college, living expenses while in school, and graduate school. It's definitely worth it to some people, particularly those who can't pay for college any other way.
My husband, in fact, got through college this way. He joined the Navy at 17, spent 3 years on active duty and then went into the reserves. He finished college in the 3 years after he got out of the Navy and then went on to graduate school, where he met me. Even with his GI bill money, he was basically living on Ramon noodle.
So basically, certain people in Congress, and apparently John McCain, want to keep people who can't pay for college in the military to be used as cannon fodder for a bit longer before they hand over the school dough. They want to keep poor people in the military and out of college.
Think about that for a minute.
The military is already disproportionately made up of men and women from the lower socioeconomic strata in this country. Why? Because the military provides training and good benefits, like money for college. Many people, like my husband (and my brother) join the military specifically so that they can pay for college. So what better way to keep them in the military then to keep them uneducated and relatively poor for as long as possible?
Hey, maybe McCain will get lucky and those kids who might have left for college after 4 years will pick up a spouse and children during the longer wait. Once a college education becomes economically impossible with a family to support, they'll have them for life.
Bravo. Brilliant plan.
I admit that this post is snarkier than usual because John McCain managed to really piss me off during the call. Why? Erin asked him a hard question he didn't want to answer, so he was patronizing and condescending to her, telling her she either hadn't read or didn't understand his statement earlier today and, "I'll try to clear it up for you." But I'm sure Erin will have plenty to say on this topic over at the BlogHer, so I'll leave it to her to tell the whole story.
****You have no idea how much I had to fight the urge to name this post, "McCain you ignorant slut!"
Cross posted at MOMocrats.