The Hightower Lowdown

Bush loves war, but he doesn't want to equip the troops -- nor be one of them.


DISHONORING AMERICA'S TROOPS

There's the Medal of Honor, the Purple Heart, and other badges and decorations to honor America's fighting men and women -- but there should be one more medal for some of our top officials who also are so richly deserving of public recognition in times of war: the Dishonorable Badge of High-Ranking Hypocrisy.

Among the deserving are George W. Bush and all the other hyperhawks of both parties who talk so loudly about duty and bravery as they send our troops into their hyped-up wars -- yet fail to provide the necessary gear that these very troops need to do battle. I'm not talking about the supersophisticated, high-dollar, laser-guided missiles, and other video-game technology that dazzles both the hawks and the fawning media (while enriching the profiteering corporations that sell such sexy hardware to the government). Rather, I'm talking about the mundane, low-dollar basics needed to equip the grunts on the ground -- stuff like good socks and boots, rucksacks, field radios, pistols, and rifle sights.

But these ground troops don't have Gucci-clad lobbyists or make fat campaign donations, so -- as incredible as it sounds -- they've literally been getting shortchanged while the White House and Congress hurl billions of our tax dollars at the likes of Boeing, Lockheed, and Raytheon. An investigative report by the Army tells of our troops in Iraq having to shell out from their own thin paychecks to buy equipment from places like L.L. Bean, because the stuff they've been issued is inadequate, including boots with soles that can't handle the Iraqi terrain, pistol magazines that fail to push the bullets into the chamber for firing, and field radios too weak to reach support units just a few blocks away. One Army official complained that a typical mountain-climbing expedition is better outfitted than the troops fighting Bush's war.

Anytime these hawkish politicians use America's troops for a photo-op backdrop, they should have to be wearing their Badge of High-Ranking Hypocrisy.


GEORGE, THE TRUTH DEFLECTOR

Is our president a liar? Well, even if you're a Bush backer, you have to admit he's never going to win the Little George Washington "I cannot tell a fib" award.

George W. would never admit to being an out-and-out liar, but he has certainly spent a lifetime as a deflector, deflecting inconvenient truth as routinely as a Teflon pan rejects sticky food.

For example, here's a sticky question: Even though he was a hawkish supporter of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, did he dodge service in that war by using his famous family's political connections to cut in line ahead of thousands of other young men who were seeking slots in the Air National Guard -- thus allowing young George to spend his war years defending Houston against the Viet Cong? Bush deflects the truth by impatiently declaring that no member of his family intervened with officials to give him a special break.

Come on, George -- you know that families of privilege don't leave fingerprints by seeking such favors directly. Instead, the dirty work in this case was handled by Sid Adger, an oilman neighbor of the Bushes who called the speaker of the Texas House of Representatives at the time, getting him to call the head of the Texas Guard, and -- Shazam! -- George zipped to the front of the line.

Well, says a defiant Bush, the Guard is a legitimate branch of the military, and I'm proud of my service there. More deflection. No one is challenging the legitimacy of the Guard, George -- the challenge is how you pulled political rank to get into it. And, by the way, if you were so proud of being there, why and how were you able to go AWOL for a year of your National Guard duty, simply disappearing and not reporting for your assignments?

Those who now wonder whether Bush is blatantly lying to us about everything from weapons of mass destruction in Iraq to the true impact of his tax giveaways to the rich -- you need only to look to his past record. George never lies -- but he's an inveterate deflector of the truth.

For more information on Jim Hightower's work – and to subscribe to his award-winning monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown – visit www.jimhightower.com. You can hear his radio commentaries on KOOP Radio, 91.7FM, weekdays at 10:58am and 12:58pm.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

George W. Bush, military, equipment, Boeing, Lockheed, Raytheon, L.L. Bean, Air National Guard, Sid Adger, Iraq

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