"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please." (Mark Twain)
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
During an official Fourth of July celebration at the U.S. Capitol, Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey and Secretary of Veterans Affairs Jim Nicholson bumped into each other. They are both steadfast Republicans, devout Catholics and congenial gentlemen, but to onlookers, it looked like an uneasy encounter. That's because Smith was right about a $2.6 billion shortfall in veterans benefits, and Nicholson's Bush administration was wrong....
Smith's problem has been failing to salute smartly when the leadership gives an order. That is the demand of Tom DeLay, the most effective majority leader in my 45 years of House-watching. DeLay found it intolerable that Smith functioned not as an obedient Republican soldier but as a fervent advocate of former U.S. foot soldiers. At the end of the last Congress, the DeLay-headed leadership purged Smith from the Veterans chairmanship and from the committee itself for wanting $2.6 billion more for the Veterans Administration.
Smith's vindication came June 28 when the Bush administration admitted that its estimate of 23,553 veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan for medical treatment fell far short of the real number: 103,000. The VA's reason was that it relied on two-year-old assumptions. The administration estimated its need for additional funds, coincidentally or not, at Smith's $2.6 billion.
I have always suspected that there were Republicans with enough integrity to actually support our troops, rather than simply talk about it - problem is, none of those Republicans work at the White House. Meanwhile, thanks to Bob Novak for getting it right - but you're still an accomplice to treason.