Everyone says they want peace. Then they fight for war jobs.
The Base Closure and Realignment Commission made its recommendations on which military installations should stay and go in the proposed consolidation by the Defense Department. The process became a satire of Democrats skewering themselves into patriotic pork.
You would think the most liberal of Democrats would fall all over themselves saying some base closures are a good thing since our children desperately need that proposed $48 billion in savings over 20 years for things like education. I know that education spending is not necessarily where the politicians and the Pentagon want the savings to go, but the average proposed savings of $2.4 billion a year is more than three times the current budget for the Boston Public Schools.
Instead we get bombast bursting in air, giving proof thro' the night that your base is still there.
The best place to start is Massachusetts. This is the state so allegedly liberal that a Republican governor lowered the American flag during the Vietnam War to appease students protesting the killing of fellow students at Kent State. Since then, the state gave us two of the last three failed Democratic candidates for president, derailed in part by their weak image on defense.
Such a state ought to be the first to volunteer to turn guns into butter. Not on your liberal life. When the commission announced the closure of Otis Air National Guard Base, up roared Senator Ted Kennedy, normally the favorite whipping boy of the right, crying, ''It defies logic. It defies intuition. It defies understanding. It makes no sense at all."
In this, Kennedy joined political hands with Republican Governor Mitt Romney, who chimed in, ''The fight isn't over." Attorney General Thomas Reilly, a Democrat who is running to replace Romney, is going to sue the federal government to keep Otis. ''We know it's going to be a tough fight," Reilly said, ''but it's a fight worth having for those families and those people and those jobs and that area of the state that's going to be impacted by this decision."
Democratic congressman William Delahunt said ''Closing Otis puts both the Coast Guard mission on the Cape and our nation's homeland defense at serious risk." Senator John Kerry, one of those two failed Democratic presidential candidates, said Otis plays a ''critical role in our defense and homeland security."
Across the border in New York State, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, a Democrat the Republicans are already tarring as too liberal to be president, took credit for saving the Air Reserve station in Niagara Falls and ''thousands of jobs." In New Mexico, Governor Bill Richardson, a Democrat and another rumored candidate for president in 2008, declared partial victory as the closing of Cannon Air Force Base was delayed five years. When that five years is up, Richardson said he hopes ''there will be enough missions to keep Cannon Air Force Base open."
Of course, the most obvious way to have ''enough missions" to keep a base open is . . . to have a war!
In fact, Senator Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat, begged for bases in her California by saying, ''We're in the middle of a war." The other California senator, Barbara Boxer, said, ''our nation's military and our people are facing unprecedented threats." In New Jersey, Senator Jon Corzine, a Democrat, said he might vote against the national closure package because of the single shutdown in his state of Fort Monmouth. ''We are going to fight this to the very end." Corzine said.
Never mind that a better road to job security for Americans in a global economy and stemming outsourcing might mean the retraining of military personnel and converting some of these bases into manufacturing plants, office complexes, job training centers, and technical colleges. But for all that the Democrats rail about President Bush's slashing of domestic spending for Iraq, none of them seem to have the courage to say it. Instead, they end up sounding more like Bush than Bush himself.
In trying to keep a naval air station in Pennsylvania, Governor Ed Rendell, a Democrat, said, ''Any effort to strip this unit of its aircraft is an outrageous waste of taxpayer resources and the talents of more than 1,000 highly trained men and women." Such a fight for the jobs of war makes the Democrats look that much more lame in their pleas for peace. All they are saying is give pork a chance.
© 2005 Boston Globe