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And if elected I promise...

J. D. Pendry

Political language... is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. - George Orwell

I love elections, especially the presidential variety. Can you remember an election year having more sound bites with so little substance? I never followed politicians too closely in the past and usually selected the lesser of evils on Election Day. As I age, I've started to be more concerned about what the candidates have to offer our country or more accurately, I'm concerned about what every red-blooded American is: What in the hell is in it for me? Moreover, how will they treat the big green family with which I spent most of my life? We need to know who they are and what they know.

Both candidates served, that's commendable. One volunteered for the Army and for duty in Vietnam when the family connections could have easily got him a safe assignment to a reserve unit. The other was in the Air National Guard, but he was ready and willing if called we're told. And, just to clear it up, at least one of them inhaled. Both are from political families, both have cargo pockets full of money, both attended the best schools, both have raised tons of special interest money for their campaigns, neither knows what it's like to be one missed payday away from homeless, both promise to make life better for me. Neither has stood in the food stamp line. One insists we have the best trained, best equipped, most powerful military force in the world. The other thinks the military is hollow and headed down the road to disaster. Both have a tax cut plan. Each is trying hard to convince me that they know what I need and intend to see that I get it - I'm just afraid of where they may insert it when they give it to me. They are saying, to quote a well-known boy toy of White House interns in an emotional lower-lip biting moment, "I feel your pain."

OK candy-dates listen up (I've wanted to say that ever since I went to Drill Sergeant School). Here are some debate questions for you. Take your time. You have until November to answer.

  • When you become Commander in Chief, will you elect TRICARE Prime, Extra or Standard for your family and yourself?
  • Since both of you served in the military, you know the value of service to our country. What steps will you take as Commander in Chief to instill a sense of service in Americans - especially those not prone to serve - like your sons and daughters? Americorps?
  • Military retirees cannot keep their medical insurance when they become Medicare eligible, why? Will you switch to Medicare at 65?
  • Military retirees must give up dollar for dollar retirement pay if they receive disability compensation from the Veteran's Administration. No other retiree, federal civilian or otherwise gives up any of their earned retirement pay if they draw VA disability compensation. No other worker gives up retirement pay if he is drawing worker's compensation. What is your position on this issue?
  • Will your children attend DC Public Schools? If not, why not? Skip the security answer.
  • If an on-the-ground military commander requests equipment that in his professional opinion he needs to protect soldiers, even in a politically charged and sensitive situation, does he get it?
  • What is your position on gays openly serving in the military?
  • What is your position on gender integrated basic combat training?
  • What is your position on the Selective Service system and military draft?
  • How do you feel about the current deployment rate of American forces? Will you increase it, decrease it, or leave it the same?
  • As the future Commander in Chief, explain the military strategy of our country? (Governor Bush you may not ask Mr. Cheney.)
  • In your opinion, can our armed forces fight two simultaneous major regional conflicts? Elaborate?
  • In your opinion, is there a major military threat to the United States? If so who or what is it?
  • Do you think the armed forces are currently manned at the proper level? Explain your answer?
  • Do you believe the military pay scales are adequate?
  • What presidential administration do you credit with bringing about the demise of the Soviet Union and ending the Cold War? Explain your answer.
  • What do you view as the most pressing need to use some of our budget surplus for? Why?
  • What criteria will you use for selecting service secretaries and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs?
  • What will be your wife's role in your presidency?

I'll leave you with those for now, but while contemplating your answers consider the words of President Lincoln, "In politics, every man must skin his own skunk." See y'all at the polls.

© 2000 J. D. Pendry