NYT Bashes Bush on Memorial Day, White House Strikes Back

It's Memorial Day, and the good folks at the New York Times thought it appropriate to not only attack the President's position on a new G.I. Bill, but also to despicably lambaste him for "[h]aving saddled the military with a botched, unwinnable war," and "having squandered soldiers’ lives and failed them in so many ways."

On Memorial Day!

Thankfully, White House press secretary Dana Perino has already issued a written statement concerning this deplorable act by the Times on a sacred day when our nation commemorates its fallen heroes.

But before we get there, here are some of the atrocities the Times editorial staff felt were appropriate to offer their readers on this solemn holiday (emphasis added throughout, h/t FishbowlDC):

Having saddled the military with a botched, unwinnable war, having squandered soldiers’ lives and failed them in so many ways, the commander in chief now resists giving the troops a chance at better futures out of uniform. He does this on the ground that the bill is too generous and may discourage re-enlistment, further weakening the military he has done so much to break.

So lavish with other people’s sacrifices, so reckless in pouring the national treasure into the sandy pit of Iraq, Mr. Bush remains as cheap as ever when it comes to helping people at home.

Nice sentiments on Memorial Day, dontcha think? Yet, the Times then stooped to misinformation to strengthen its point:

Mr. Bush — and, to his great discredit, Senator John McCain — have argued against a better G.I. Bill, for the worst reasons. They would prefer that college benefits for service members remain just mediocre enough that people in uniform are more likely to stay put.

They have seized on a prediction by the Congressional Budget Office that new, better benefits would decrease re-enlistments by 16 percent, which sounds ominous if you are trying — as Mr. Bush and Mr. McCain are — to defend a never-ending war at a time when extended tours of duty have sapped morale and strained recruiting to the breaking point.

Strained recruiting to the breaking point? I guess the Times editorial board forgot about an Associated Press article on this very subject that was posted at the paper's website on May 13:

The Marine Corps far surpassed its recruiting goal last month, enlisting 2,233 people, which was 142 percent of its goal, the Pentagon said. The Army recruited 5,681 people, 101 percent of its goal. The Navy and Air Force also met their goals, 2,905 sailors and 2,435 airmen. A Defense Department spokesman, Bryan Whitman, said that if the Marine Corps continued its recruiting success, it could reach its goal of growing to 202,000 people by the end of 2009, more than a year early.

I guess facts are irrelevant when they interfere with the point you're trying to make. Fortunately, the White House issued its own statement countering the Times:

Once again, the New York Times Editorial Board doesn't let the facts get in the way of expressing its vitriolic opinions - no matter how misleading they may be.

In today's editorial, "Mr. Bush and the GI Bill", the New York Times irresponsibly distorts President Bush's strong commitment to strengthening and expanding support for America's service members and their families.

This editorial could not be farther from the truth about the President's record of leadership on this issue. In his January 2008 State of the Union Address, while proposing a series of initiatives to support our military families, President Bush specifically called upon Congress to answer service members' request that they be able to transfer their GI Bill benefits to their spouses and children. In April, he sent a legislative package to the Hill that would expand access to childcare, create new authorities to appoint qualified spouses into civil service jobs, provide education opportunities and job training for military spouses, and allow our troops to transfer their unused education benefits to their spouses or children.

As Congress debates the best way to expand the existing GI Bill, Secretary Gates has laid out important guidelines to ensure that legislation meets our service members' needs and rewards military service. First, since our servicemen and women have regularly requested the ability to transfer their GI bill benefits to their family members, legislation should include transferability. Second, legislation should provide greater rewards for continued military service in the all volunteer force.

There are several GI bill proposals under consideration in both the House and Senate. The Department of Defense has specific concerns about legislation sponsored by Senator Webb because it lacks transferability and could negatively impact military retention.

The President specifically supports the GI Bill legislation expansion proposed by Senators Graham, Burr, and McCain because it allows for the transferability of education benefits and calibrates an increase in education benefits to time in the service.

Though readers of the New York Times editorial page wouldn't know it, President Bush looks forward to signing a GI bill that supports our troops and their families, and preserves the experience and skill of our forces.

Curiously, this was the second time in one week the White House struck out at the press, with the first being Ed Gillespie's letter to NBC concerning the editing of Richard Engel's interview with the President.

Makes one wonder why Bush and Company have waited until his final year in office to start pushing back when the media are out of line.

NBC New York Times Associated Press Dana Perino
Noel Sheppard's picture