Does George W
get up every morning and gargle with a big glass of political cynicism,
or is he genetically cynical and just can't help himself?
Take his recent radio address on Memorial Day weekend. Bush wrapped
himself as tightly as possible in the flag and blathered on at length
about how much he loves those veterans who have gone to war and fought
for our freedom (a noble stand that he personally avoided taking when
his time came, using family connections to keep him safely out of
harm's way – but that's another story). In his address, George told
the nation that we can acknowledge the debt we owe these veterans
by "showing our respect and gratitude."
I don't know if he gargled before delivering this radio sermon, but
I do know that just hours before it, Bush's budget office announced
that it would cut a billion dollars out of existing veterans' health
care programs next year if Bush gets elected this fall. There's gratitude
These programs have already been so shortchanged by Bush that his
own secretary of veterans affairs has criticized their inadequacy.
At present, nearly 350,000 injured and ill vets are having to wait
in line get admitted for health care because the VA system is so backed
up. The average wait is more than six months! Yet, rather than cutting
the backlog, as Bush promised to do when he took office, he now proposes
to cut 540 VA staffers who review disability claims to speed up the
line and help veterans get the care they need.
This billion-dollar cut comes on top of Bush's ongoing attempt to
close veterans hospitals across the country, his $50 million cut in
medical research on new prosthetic technologies for dismembered vets
and his cutting-off of 164,000 veterans from their existing prescription
Is it too cynical to suggest that veterans could use a little less
rhetorical "respect" from the president and whole lot more
Jim Hightower is the best-selling author of Lets Stop
Beating Around the Bush, on sale July 19 from Viking Press. For
more information, visit www.jimhightower.com.