Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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October 31, 2008

GUTTING THE PENTAGON.... Sarah Palin campaigned in Erie, Pennsylvania, yesterday and blasted Democrats for allegedly wanting to cut funding from the Pentagon budget.

"We're fighting two wars, with a force strength in need of rebuilding, not in being gutted," Palin said. "And they [Democrats] think it's the perfect time to radically reduce defense spending? What are they thinking?"

Yes, what kind of monster would decide, in the midst of two wars, to cut defense spending? Why, to hear Palin tell it, you'd have to be some kind of nut to even think about reducing Pentagon funding right now.

With this in mind, it's probably an inconvenient time to point out that John McCain has promised to reduce defense spending. He told ABC News in April:

"I'm cutting billions and billions out of defense spending which are not earmarks. The $400 million ship that they had to scrap, it was supposed to cost $140 billion. The $30 billion I believe it is, add-on for a system in the Army that's gone up $30 billion and we still haven't got any result from it. The $50 million contract to some buddy of Air Force generals. I mean, there's so many billions out there just in defense."

It wasn't just a random slip; this is actually a clearly articulated McCain campaign policy.

McCain's top economic adviser, Doug Holtz-Eakin, blithely supposes that cuts in defense spending could make up for reducing the corporate tax rate from 35% to 25% and the subsequent shrinkage in federal revenues. Get that? The national security candidate wants to cut spending on our national security.

So, Sarah Palin, what are you thinking? Based on your attacks yesterday, it sounds like you may not be comfortable with McCain's plan to reduce the Pentagon's budget in the midst of two wars.

Steve Benen 9:05 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (33)

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Comments

Bacevich, in his Limits of Power, has the good sense to recognize that our pentagon has been poorly led making both political and military blunders that have cost us a few trillion dollars and many many lives.

Our military leaders are malignantly oblivious of their ineptitude. They seem to believe their PR that they are "warriors" rather than humans. We seem unable to hold them accountable.

Cutting the budget without a leadership transplant will do little.

Posted by: Cycledco on October 31, 2008 at 9:04 AM | PERMALINK

Merely saying shit for votes at this juncture!

The philosophic, moral and pragmatic elements of early 21st century conservatism are moribund. With each passing day McCain and Palin put another nail in its coffin with their sophomoric campaign rhetoric. -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on October 31, 2008 at 9:10 AM | PERMALINK

We're fighting two wars, with a force strength in need of rebuilding

I love the tacit acknowledgment that Bush broke the army and helped ruin the Republican's strong-on-defense brand.

This lame attack is an example of Palin trying desperately to rehabilitate that brand, and it might work with dead-enders who need to believe anything bad about Democrats, but otherwise, that dog won't hunt.

Posted by: Gregory on October 31, 2008 at 9:12 AM | PERMALINK

This leads to questions about the mission of the military which has largely escaped debate in this campaign. The army is restructuring to better adapt it for endless encounters like Iraq and Afghanistan. Do we really want to be doing this forever? And is the military the best means of doing basic state craft and nation building?

Posted by: lou on October 31, 2008 at 9:15 AM | PERMALINK

I think it should be obvious at this point that Team McCain will simply make stuff up in the last few days of the campaign. They can be fairly certain that nobody in the MSM is going to call them on it.

Posted by: Jake on October 31, 2008 at 9:16 AM | PERMALINK

"so sarah palin, what are you thinking?"

at the risk of pointing out the obvious, you don't need to actually think to spout republican talking points.

Posted by: mellowjohn on October 31, 2008 at 9:19 AM | PERMALINK

She's so dumb.

And that campaign's wheels came off long ago.

They deserve everything that's happening to them. And here's hoping that she runs again in 2012 so we can beat her again.

Posted by: chuck on October 31, 2008 at 9:20 AM | PERMALINK

Who thinks she actually knows McCain's plan? I bet when she finds out, she'll "fire off an email."

Posted by: Jesse on October 31, 2008 at 9:26 AM | PERMALINK

Eliminating the Air Force (see Robert Farley), creating a sensible nuclear deterrent and eliminating unnecessary naval programs would cut a lot and not even touch the wars. But the defense budget is sacrosanct for the Warmonger Party

Posted by: Mudge on October 31, 2008 at 9:26 AM | PERMALINK

Steve,

To include the word "think" in a sentence which includes "Palin" debases the language.

Posted by: jen f on October 31, 2008 at 9:28 AM | PERMALINK

We have no business engaging in TWO land wars in Asia. Ask any historian.

Posted by: Hedley Lamarr on October 31, 2008 at 9:30 AM | PERMALINK

Would that Obama actually gut the Pentagon. U.S. military expenditures outstrip the rext of the world combined; and part of the upcoming financial restructuring - which is going to be dictated by the rest of the world - will be the downsizing of the Pentagon to a fraction of its current size. The rest of the world does not have time for more American military nonsense.

Posted by: McGuff on October 31, 2008 at 9:31 AM | PERMALINK

In general terms, we could cut defense spending by 50% and we would still be spending over 3 times more than China, Russia, Iran and Pakistan combined. Just something to think about...

Posted by: DrDave on October 31, 2008 at 9:31 AM | PERMALINK

I've heard it from friends. I've seen it in blogs and in comments.

I've never heard it on NPR.

I've never seen it on TV news.

Say it with me: "It's OK If You're A Republican!"

Posted by: on October 31, 2008 at 9:37 AM | PERMALINK

Anybody else having trouble understanding this sentence?

""I'm cutting billions and billions out of defense spending which are not earmarks. The $400 million ship that they had to scrap, it was supposed to cost $140 billion."


They had to scrap a ship that came in WAY under budget??

Does McCain have a problem with numerancy? What's the deal with this statement?

Posted by: neilt on October 31, 2008 at 9:46 AM | PERMALINK

Beefing up the military and supporting our troops is just good politics. That's what it's all about. Politics. Not governance.

For chris sakes, this campaign has lasted two years. That's two years of pure politics dominating every news cycle. When does the government ever get around to doing something besides reelecting itself? Oh, I forgot. Government isn't supposed to do anything. Reagan taught us that.

Posted by: hark on October 31, 2008 at 9:46 AM | PERMALINK

SB: Sarah Palin, what are you thinking?

Oxymoron alert!...with an extra helping of moron.

Same with, "team of mavericks", FWIW.

Posted by: grape_crush on October 31, 2008 at 9:46 AM | PERMALINK

I was wondering when you would get to this. McCain has fought pork barrel projects in the defense budget for 25 years. Barney Frank wants to cut the budget by 25%. If you can't see the difference, you must be voting for The One.

Posted by: Mike K on October 31, 2008 at 9:47 AM | PERMALINK

I heard a fascinating exchange with a male college voter who until the other day had been undecided. He's decided to vote for McCain. His reason was that he heard Obama's proposal to allow people to withdraw 10k tax free from their 401k. "I just can't agree with that so I'm voting for McCain."

I guess he must figure this is wealth redistribution. The wages that you've forfeited for your future should be lost in the stock market or at the very least taxed if you try to take them out.

Posted by: grinning cat on October 31, 2008 at 9:49 AM | PERMALINK

Sarah Palin, what — are you thinking?


Fixed.

Posted by: on October 31, 2008 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

The sacred-cow status of the imperial military establishment is sickening. What the fuck are we, Wilhelmine Germany?

Posted by: Steve LaBonne on October 31, 2008 at 10:00 AM | PERMALINK

Steve, I'll bet your shoulder is getting sore from shooting all these fish in a barrel.

Four more days. And it looks like you've got plenty of ammo.

Posted by: chrenson on October 31, 2008 at 10:13 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah, but will their lies and hypocrisy be pointed out by the corporate media? Or will it just be more of McCain's charges against Obama?

Posted by: John McCain: Worse than Bush on October 31, 2008 at 10:15 AM | PERMALINK

Me. Me. Glorious me.

So, Sarah Palin, what are you thinking?

Posted by: koreyel on October 31, 2008 at 10:22 AM | PERMALINK

"His reason was that he heard Obama's proposal to allow people to withdraw 10k tax free from their 401k. "I just can't agree with that so I'm voting for McCain.""

That's the craziest shit I've heard yet. And clearly this "undecided male college voter" is a true died-in-the-wool republican who was just yanking peoples chain about being "undecided".

Hah. Two wars. $11 trillion deficit. economy collapsing. global warming. etc etc etc and the tie breaker is taxation on 401k's???????????

Besides, wasn't it McCain that first advocated seniors not be penalized for keeping IRAs in the market longer, thus not having to pay taxes on their savings?

Posted by: on October 31, 2008 at 10:28 AM | PERMALINK

If I were a newspaper editor, I'd have a hard time not running this story with the headline:

PALIN BLASTS MCCAIN'S PENTAGON CUTS

Posted by: Jim on October 31, 2008 at 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

Mike K wrote: McCain has fought pork barrel projects in the defense budget for 25 years. Barney Frank wants to cut the budget by 25%. If you can't see the difference, you must be voting for The One.

So Mike K claims some of the defense budget is pork, and can be cut, but the pork doesn't amount to 25% of the defense budget, because cutting that much is bad.

Okay, Mike: Prove it. Thanks in advance.

Posted by: Gregory on October 31, 2008 at 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

She's so dumb. Posted by: chuck

She is Chuck. But then so are a huge number of American voters, 1 in 7 who, according to an AP article today, are still undecided about the election.

NPR has been running a series of interviews with people from swing states. They talked to two guys from Missouri two nights ago, both blue collar. The one guy, probably not well-educated, was voting for Obama. He's against the war and knows that change needs to be made. The other guy has always voted for Rethugs and doesn't like Obama's policies, probably not one of which he could have described in even the vaguest detail, but he's apparently okay with continuing the Bush administrations failed policies.

It's all down to education. Americans love talking about and bemoaning the state of public education, but very few are really willing to make budget changes, like cutting the defense budget in half, to improve our public schools.

Posted by: Jeff II on October 31, 2008 at 11:37 AM | PERMALINK

She's thinking, "Screw the old fart--he's toast. I'm going to rouse me some rabble and make 'em love me!"

Posted by: BroD on October 31, 2008 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

So, Frick writes speeches for Double Talk - Frack working in a sound proof room writes for Sarah the Lost.

Yeah, Double Talk fought Boeing, while taking campaign money from the manufacturers of AirBus.

And, who does DT want to run the Pentagon - Leyman who tried to build a 600 ship Navy, or was that procuring 600 Hookees for the Tail-Gate parties at the Vegas Hilton?

Posted by: berttheclock on October 31, 2008 at 11:57 AM | PERMALINK

You are starting to sound naive her Steve. This is a campaign that would tell you while standing in a hurricane, that the weather is clear and calm...or up is down...right is left, etc.

What seems odd to me is to broach a topic that might illicit a response from the Obama camp...which might use one of McCain's direct quotes against him. Of course, Obama would be responding as opposed to defining the debate, but if they go big enough in their response, it could be a small nightmare for McCain.

Of course, in the closing days they will say anything to push undecided voters knowing that they won't likely get called on their lies until after the election.

Posted by: Alex Kirby on October 31, 2008 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

This isn't the first time Senator McCain has tried to be on both sides of an issue. McCain regularly contradicts himself in this way, secure in the knowledge that most voters won't notice. His partisans listen uncritically. The unfortunate history of the Bush presidency was abetted by the media letting such inconsistencies go by uncommented. That's one of the great things about the World Wide Web; when the media lets things like McCain's constant lying get past them, the Blogosphere is there.

Posted by: frank logan on October 31, 2008 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe this is an ideal moment for Obama to speak with someone like Ron Paul about who should lead the Defense Department.

Now, wouldn't that put McCain in a tizzy?

Posted by: MarkH on November 1, 2008 at 12:00 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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