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August 12, 2003

One For The Democrats

For argument's sake, just take Paul Krugman's words as truth. After all, they're in the New York Times. Many people will. I'm not saying that what Krugman says is accurate one way or the other, that's not the point. I will add links in where the NYT should have, though.

Letters published in Stars and Stripes and e-mail published on the Web site of Col. David Hackworth (a decorated veteran and Pentagon critic) describe shortages of water. One writer reported that in his unit, "each soldier is limited to two 1.5-liter bottles a day," and that inadequate water rations were leading to "heat casualties." An American soldier died of heat stroke on Saturday; are poor supply and living conditions one reason why U.S. troops in Iraq are suffering such a high rate of noncombat deaths?

The U.S. military has always had superb logistics. What happened? The answer is a mix of penny-pinching and privatization --- which makes our soldiers' discomfort a symptom of something more general.

Colonel Hackworth blames "dilettantes in the Pentagon" who "thought they could run a war and an occupation on the cheap." But the cheapness isn't restricted to Iraq. In general, the "support our troops" crowd draws the line when that support might actually cost something.

The usually conservative Army Times has run blistering editorials on this subject. Its June 30 blast, titled "Nothing but Lip Service," begins: "In recent months, President Bush and the Republican-controlled Congress have missed no opportunity to heap richly deserved praise on the military. But talk is cheap --- and getting cheaper by the day, judging from the nickel-and-dime treatment the troops are getting lately." The article goes on to detail a series of promises broken and benefits cut.

Military corner-cutting is part of a broader picture of penny-wise-pound-foolish government. When it comes to tax cuts or subsidies to powerful interest groups, money is no object. But elsewhere, including homeland security, small-government ideology reigns. The Bush administration has been unwilling to spend enough on any aspect of homeland security, whether it's providing firefighters and police officers with radios or protecting the nation's ports. The decision to pull air marshals off some flights to save on hotel bills --- reversed when the public heard about it --- was simply a sound-bite-worthy example. (Air marshals have told that a "witch hunt" is now under way at the Transportation Security Administration, and that those who reveal cost-cutting measures to the media are being threatened with the Patriot Act.)

Water is basic. People understand water. Either you get enough of it, or you die. Now here's an editorial in the NYT, one more or less stating that "our boys in Iraq aren't getting enough water."

Were I advising the Democratic National Committee chairman, I would have someone setting up a "Send Water to Our Boys in Iraq" website at this very moment. It's a cheap way to show support for the troops and undercut Bush at the same time. Give it a snappy slogan, something like "Millions for Haliburton, but not one cent for water," and voila, instant political weaponry. There's bound to be a tame political cartoonist, say Auth, who's willing to draw a man in uniform crawling on his hands and knees through the desert.

The caption's obvious. "Water....Water.." Hell, he or one of the other political cartoonists will probably do it even if you don't specifically ask them to.

Next, buy a crapload of bottled water, not Perrier, for god's sake, something American or English or Israeli, but available in the region, and get it incountry post-haste. No reason why you can't have video of it being passed out to American soldiers on the evening news on Wednesday. If the story starts to die, buy airtime "thanking" the American people for their donations. How does a "I was thirsty, and you gave me water" voiceover on top of slo-mo thirsty soldiers drinking water video sound?

Frankly, Terry, if you didn't pop a stiffy at the very thought of the above, you're not the man the Democrats need when it comes to screwing Bush out of a second term.

Once that's done you can start putting forth the argument that the current administration doesn't understand logistics, and thus should not be trusted with overseas adventures. If it did, then why is it having such trouble getting water to the troops? We did it, and we're Democrats! Why can't the gung-ho neocons? Could it because......(fill in reason here, if Carville can't come up with at least one a week between now and the end of the year you're paying him too much).

It's simple in concept and execution, and a big knee to the nuts on a subject the Bushies aren't expecting. Your flacks and pet movements can bitch about yellow cake all they want, but no one gives a shit other than the people who lost the argument already, and they seem to think some sort of do-over is in order. Not going to happen, so MoveOn, try something else.

Besides, isn't the current strategy of praying for a continued bad economy just a little boring?

Posted by Bigwig at August 12, 2003 01:00 AM | TrackBack
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They're too frightened the conjunction of 'Dem' and 'military' would hurt them among the radical Lefties who've hijacked the party. Won't happen.

Posted by: Misanthropyst at August 12, 2003 08:55 AM

That's the nice thing about giving Democrats good advice. One can rest assured that they won't take it.

Posted by: Bigwig at August 12, 2003 09:31 AM

As Lt. Smash would no doubt concur, our forces in the Middle East ARE getting copious amounts of bottled water- crates and crates, ton upon metric ton, of little crushable plastic bottles containing 500ml to 1L of pure H20 from Abu Daubi, Oman, or somewhere similar. (Whilst I was deployed to one of the many and unpleasant Middle East locations recently I recall a large hangar used as a supply warehouse which was 1/3 filled with pallet upon pallet of... bottled water. More common a sight than you might think around our bases Out There- the local water is rarely drinkable.)
The practical upshot of this, Bigwig, is that the really tough logistical part of this operation has already been accomplished, provided the Dems are underhanded enough to root up some pics of our troops in the general vicinity of all this boxed and bottled goodness.

Posted by: TheMasterTimekeeper at August 12, 2003 10:08 AM

The soldier who died was mentioned on Fox this morning. So far the scuttlebutt seems to be that the heat killed him. Given a choice between betting that he died of dehydration or heat stroke I'd bet on heat stroke. They're related but not the same thing. You can lose 20 pounds of water without being in danger of heat stroke, and you can get heat stroke despite being hydrated. Seen both.


Posted by: Kalroy at August 12, 2003 12:49 PM

When it comes to tax cuts or subsidies to powerful interest groups, money is no object. But elsewhere, including homeland security, small-government ideology reigns.

I'd of thunk that tax cuts were part and parcel of small-government ideology. But I can appreciate how hard it is to keep these things straight when you're dehydrated.

Posted by: Paul Zrimsek at August 12, 2003 03:28 PM
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