I am sickened by the hypocrisy involving Friday's announcement that 33 major military bases would be closed in the U.S. as part of a long term plan to streamline the military. The plan announced Friday would save $48 billion over the next 20 years and help reshape the military from a cold war posture to the modern needs of terrorists and extremists.
Word of the military realignment plan has been discussed for months. This actually is the fourth round of base closings in recent years. But now that the final list has been announced, Congressmen have jumped to the defense of those bases in their district.
And that is what makes me cringe.
These conservative, small government politicians speak daily about reducing the federal government, about reducing the burden on taxpayers and about making decisions based on need, not politics. But when the reductions and the loss of jobs strikes their districts, you know what hits the fan.
Few have been as vocal as our own Sen. Kit Bond. When informed that Missouri would lose 4,000 military and civilian jobs as part of this base closings, Bond said he was "appalled."
"This misguided recommendation makes absolutely no sense and jeopardizes both jobs and the safety of our state," Bond said. He said he would vigorously fight the recommendations.
But in a touch of irony, Rep. Ike Skelton, the leading military expert in Missouri, said he was "absolutely pleased" that our two major military bases were spared from the ax. "That is the solid good news for the state of Missouri."
So how can two intelligent men look at the same news and view it so differently? I can't answer the question.
All I know is this. I'm tired of my fellow conservatives preaching one thing and practicing another. I think Bond should accept the recommendations and be darned happy that Whiteman Air Force Base and Ft. Leonard Wood will both remain in tact. If you are truly in favor of reduced federal spending, then don't moan just because the cuts hit close to home.
This type of two-faced rhetoric is what gives politicians a bad name. And sometimes it's an appropriate one as well.
Almost without exception, Congressmen across the nation quickly took to the media and began complaining about the cuts. These are the very same politicians for the most part who are quick to call for less government.
I'm sick of these politicians using the term "homeland security" to justify spending my hard-earned money. Maybe we should be more concerned about Americans losing their paychecks to pay for more federal programs than we should be with some terrorist plot.
No region wants to lose jobs. But when it becomes prudent to close a base that is obsolete and no longer serves a purpose other than providing jobs, then so be it.
The words spoken by these politicians will someday come back to haunt them. And well they should.