Friday, April 10, 2009
When is a defense spending cut not a cut? When it's not. Be that as it may, you have to admire Obama (I do, anyway) for giving a shot at rationalizing Pentagon money, particularly now, when the right wing screamers are literally calling for "a stake in his heart," and claiming he's a Nazi who plans concentration camps and "reeducation camps." The reaction to his proposal to raise military spending by four percent, by that measure, is hardly unexpected.
Defense spending has always been politicized, with knees (and other body parts) jerking all over the country. Even thoughtful discussion -- were such a thing still possible -- would raise difficult issues. Republicans love to cry "soft on defense;" but when Senator Inhofe calls it "disarming America" and "ravaging the military," one can only believe we'll never hear the issues addressed rationally.
Take one example. As successes have only come when all the launch data were known in advance, the missile defense shield seems to me much over-hyped and under-needed; especially when nukes are said to fit in suitcases. I stand ready to be convinced of its purpose and effectiveness; but it's no stretch for me to believe it's something without which we can do.
How about considering a couple dozen overseas bases, while we're at it?
Robert Gates seems a thoughtful man, and hardly a peacenik. You'd think that Republicans, who have magically -- and quite suddenly -- regained their professed love of budgetary balance, would be willing to join their fellow party-member in an honest discussion of what we need and what we don't, militarily. Like so many other imperatives, it has been ignored and put off for too long. I can't judge the merits of Gates' plan so far; if anything it appears he hasn't yet gone nearly far enough. But in scrutinizing specific programs, he's taken a step in the right direction, and it's clear his fellow Republicans won't let a little fact-free hyperbole get in the way of their opposition. It's one thing to disagree, to make an argument based on information, to present alternatives and to defend them. It's quite another -- and it's become GOP SOP at this point -- simply to make stuff up.
So I continue to think that in the long run, we're screwed. Politicians like Inhofe keep getting elected, while Beck and Hannity and Bachmann and Limbaugh and Coulter and Savage and Ingraham and O'Reilly keep peddling predatory prevarications to their paranoid and panicky patrons. If such obvious emptiness hasn't been rejected by now, I doubt it ever will. Rationally to discuss making actual cuts in military spending? Unthinkable.