Returning from World War II, my generation was welcomed home with open arms, gratitude and a GI Bill to pay for our college education.
For its counterpart today, a New York Times editorial points out, "the commander in chief now resists giving the troops a chance at better futures out of uniform. He does this on the ground that the bill is too generous and may discourage re-enlistment, further weakening the military he has done so much to break."
Luckily, His Lame Duckness will be overruled by a Congress facing reelection and more sensitive to the popular will, but what does all this say about George W. Bush and his wannabe successor, the warrior patriot, John McCain?
According to the Times, "Mr. Bush--and, to his great discredit, Senator John McCain--have argued against a better G.I. Bill, for the worst reasons. They would prefer that college benefits for service members remain just mediocre enough that people in uniform are more likely to stay put."
Even worse, McCain has used the issue to attack Barack Obama, who supports the bill: "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," he huffed, overlooking the small point that his antagonist was six years old when McCain was taken POW in Vietnam.
In the Bush-McCain worldview, the citizen soldiers of the Greatest Generation have morphed into personnel whose lives come second to the needs of a military that has been stretched to the breaking point in Iraq
Responding to McCain's attack, Obama said, "It's disappointing that Senator McCain and his campaign used this issue to launch yet another lengthy personal, political attack instead of debating an honest policy difference."
"Disappointing" is a mild word for what the proprietors of the Iraq war are doing with their opposition to the 21st century version of what the Times says "became known as one of the most successful benefits programs--one of the soundest investments in human potential--in the nation’s history."