The Repubs running for president are each in something of a corner. They have to defend the record of their president and party (a record that is mighty unpopular) and propose change. Fred Thomspon ran smack into that challenge yesterday when he called for "revitalizing" the U.S. military. Doesn't such a battle cry imply that Bush has failed the nation and our troops? Here's how I wrote about it for CQPolitics.com:
According to Fred Thompson, George W. Bush has been derelict in his duty as commander in chief. How else to explain Thompson's latest policy initiative?
On Tuesday, Thompson unveiled what he has dubbed his "Four Pillars of a Revitalized National Defense." You might ask, why must the national defense of the United States of America be revitalized after nearly seven years of the Bush administration? And remember that for most of this time, Bush's GOP controlled Congress. Yet Thompson is saying that on Bush's watch, the military has not been properly managed. He is essentially calling Bush a devitalizer.
His Pillar No. 1: boosting military spending. Apparently, Bush's 60-percent hike in Pentagon expenditures since 2001 (in real terms) hasn't been enough--even though U.S. military spending now represents almost two-fifths of the world's total military tab. And at $626 billion, the U.S. military budget is about seven times the size of the military budget of China, the second largest military spender on the planet. It also is much larger than the combined military spending of Iran, North Korea, Syria, Sudan, Libya and Cuba (about $15 billion). But still, six-tenths of a trillion dollars is not enough for Thompson. So he must believe that Bush has imperiled the nation by spending too little during the previous six years.
For Pillar No. 2, Thompson wants to increase the size of the military to create a "million-member" ground force. Right now, the Army has about half a million troops, and the U.S. Marines Corps has about 180,000. Bush has called for increasing the Army to 550,000 and the Marines to 202,000. But yet again, Bush--as Thompson sees it--is not doing enough. Thompson advocates boosting the Army to 775,000 troops and beefing up the Marines to 225,000. Will there be a draft? Thompson doesn't say so. By the way, CBS News on Tuesday reported that Iraq war veterans have a suicide rate two to four times higher than civilians the same age. How's that for a recruitment pitch?
Moving on to Pillar No. 3. "The U.S. must modernize its Armed Forces," Thompson insists. That's obviously one more important task Bush did not get to while he was busy with the Iraq war.
Pillar No. 4: "The U.S. must take better care of our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines....We must also take care of our veterans by fixing the VA system." Is Thompson implying that Bush has not done all he can to support the troops and our wounded warriors? (See the suicide stats mentioned above.)
It would appear that Thompson has a low regard for the current military status quo. And who's to blame for that?
Of course, Thompson doesn't point a finger directly at Bush. Now that would take guts, for the GOP presidential contenders don't want to criticize the president and possibly piss off Republican voters....
You can read the rest here.