Webb's Opening Shot

Kelley Vlahos considers Webb's GI bill:

Webb, who is a Vietnam vet and whose son served in Iraq, made sure the bill was bullet-proof before shopping it around the Hill and in the media for the last several weeks. Its passage – thanks to the help of 26 Republicans – marks one of the biggest Democratic legislative victories this year, and gives them a healthy talking point in the November election, thanks to opposition from the White House, Pentagon and one senator by the name of John McCain.

President Bush wants to veto the measure, and his case is helped, if only because the Democrats attached $10 billion in additional domestic spending to the package. Ironically, the spending, which includes the extension of unemployment benefits and aid to the Gulf States, is what helped to bring some of the Republican stragglers like Sen. John Sununu, R-N.H., on board at the last minute, in part because of their vulnerabilities in the fall elections.

But the real opposition from Bush and McCain and the defense brass is that they believe one stint in the active duty isn’t enough time to give to one’s country, that a full college tuition after three years might discourage servicemen and women from making the military a career. Webb and others say hogwash, if a guy or a gal spends three years – and we all know that amounts to at least one, or two years in the warzone today – they deserve whatever we can give ‘em. Remember, even the draftees during Vietnam only spent a year overseas before they were let off the hook and they got a GI Bill that at the time paid for something. The old GI Bill, not adjusted for today’s skyrocketing tuition costs, won’t even get a vet through a four-year state school today.

I'm a little staggered that McCain allowed himself to be outmaneuvered on this by Webb and Obama.