It seems appropriate that the front-runners in the presidential campaign should concentrate on an issue relevant to military veterans this Memorial Day weekend. Here's where it stands: Senator Obama supports a new "G.I. Bill" introduced by Sen. Webb, a fellow Democrat. Senator McCain opposes the bill. Here's the dialogue summarized, so far:
Obama: "I respect Senator John McCain's service to our country," Obama said on the Senate floor. "But I can't understand why he would line up behind the president in opposition to this G.I. Bill. I can't believe why he believes it is too generous to our veterans."
McCain: "I take a backseat to no one in my affection, respect and devotion to veterans. And 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."
Let me suggest a rebuttal for Obama: "It's precisely because others took my place that I want them to receive the most generous benefits possible, but I still don't understand why Senator McCain believes this plan is too generous."
Actually, McCain has made his explanation already, but it's in Obama's interest to make him repeat it. According to the Washington Post, the Republican believes that the benefits offered by Webb's bill will tempt soldiers into leaving the military too soon. This is definitely something McCain should be made to say in public as often as possible. Critics shouldn't be afraid to interpret it, either, as showing McCain's desire to lock people into the military "for the duration." It's the only thing he can do, short of a draft, to keep troops in place for the perpetual war on terror and the 50-year occupation that McCain envisions. We should hear a lot more about this particular issue in the months to come, and if McCain's attempt to intimidate Obama into silence has had any effect, that might be reason to make Webb Obama's running mate, because that guy, I suspect, would make McCain shut up fast. That's also a good argument against making Senator Clinton the running mate, but that's a topic for another time.