Some other numbers of note: Bush's job approval rating stands at 48%. His disapproval is also 48%. Ohio is cut down the middle, but compared to Missouri and Wisconsin (also polled by the Times) Ohio shows the lowest approval rating of the group.
52% disapprove of Bush's handling of the war in Iraq, while only 43% approve.
I also find it interesting that the numbers for the war on terror are not the same as the numbers for the war in Iraq. Bush's public relations campaign to make the two one in the same seems to be failing. 55% approve of Bush's handling on the war on terror, while 39% disapprove. Maybe he should have stuck to what the public thought he was good at, eh?
On the economy, 55% of Ohioans disapprove of Bush's handling.
"Just before Memorial Day, Veterans Affairs Secretary Anthony Principi said, "Our active military respond better to Republicans" because of "the tremendous support that President Bush has provided for our military and our veterans." The same day, the White House announced plans for massive cuts in veterans' health care for 2006.
"Last January, Bush praised veterans during a visit to Walter Reed Army Medical Center. The same day, 164,000 veterans were told the White House was "immediately cutting off their access to the VA health-care system."
"My favorite in this category was the short-lived plan to charge soldiers wounded in Iraq for their meals when they got to American military hospitals. The plan mercifully died aborning after it hit the newspapers.
"In January 2003, just before the war, Bush said, "I want to make sure that our soldiers have the best possible pay." A few months later, the White House announced it would roll back increases in "imminent danger" pay (to $150 from $225) and family separation allowance (to $100 from $250).
"In October 2003, the president told troops, "I want to thank you for your willingness to heed the important call, and I want to thank your families." Two weeks later, the White House announced it opposed a proposal to give National Guard and Reserve members access to the Pentagon's health-insurance system, even though a recent General Accounting Office report estimated that one of every five Guard members has no health insurance.
"What a nice thank-you note."
Ivins details a few more glaring contradictions in Bush policy, then finishes up with a question who's answer will solve all the administration's problems:
"Can we fire George Tenet again?"
If only. That would solve all our problems, right W?
Finally. The U.S. is finally going to move a portion of its 37,500 troops that are in South Korea out of that theater. It says something about the Bush administration's Iraq policy that we have to take our own troops from other places in the world to fill the gaps in Iraq instead of gaining the substantial support of allies who could shoulder some of the burden of rebuilding Iraq.
But nevertheless, getting these sitting ducks out of harm's way - at least out of Korean harm's way - is a good thing. Having 37,500 soldiers in Korea is old Cold War doctrine: the troops are there to be killed in a first strike. The theory goes that not unless American personnel are killed in an attack on South Korea will the U.S. military get involved in the conflict. Basically those soldiers are there to die.
I don't even buy into that kind of theory as a Cold War doctrine, but it certainly is a ridiculous concept in today's world. As the world's sole superpower, war that annihilates a country of such strategic importance as South Korea would immediately get the U.S. involved. We have no reason to sacrifice 37,500 American soldiers in a nuclear (or conventional) first strike.
Moreover, even if we were to invade North Korea, say because they attacked Japan, 37,500 regular infantry soldiers would not be an ideal response force. More likely we would use our air power and our superiority in special ops in order to infiltrate North Korean facilities and disable their missile systems. A war of attrition would not be the best use of our forces for these reasons, let alone the fact that North Korea has superiority in this respect with a 1.1 million man standing army.
While this movement of forces from South Korea is a good start - with a third of the force leaving - it should only be a start. We should get our soldiers out of South Korea.
He was never afraid to go too far to the political right, but he did something that defines a great president: he gave hope in troubled times. He made America believe again after the scandals and stagflation of the 1970's. He took bold steps to end the Cold War to the benefit of freedom.
For that, and more, Reagan joins the ranks of America's better presidents.