On Monday, President Obama commemorated Memorial Day at Arlington National Cemetery, declaring “Today we come together as Americans to pray, to reflect and to remember these heroes.” But across the country in San Diego, his GOP rival Mitt Romney joined John McCain at a gathering of veterans to instead deliver a not-so-thinly-veiled attack on the President. But if his message that the U.S. must not “shrink our military smaller and smaller to pay for our social needs” sounds familiar, it should. After all, back in 2000 George W. Bush deployed the same “hollow military” myth to win the battle for the White House.
On Monday morning, PBS Newshour announced, “Presidential Campaigns Pause to Honor Veterans on Memorial Day.” Unfortunately, that story was published before Mitt Romney addressed the audience at the Memorial Day Center Museum in San Diego. As ABC reported, Romney did not pause for a cease-fire (around the 11:00 mark in the video above):
“We have two courses we can follow,” said Romney. “One is to follow the pathway of Europe. To shrink our military smaller and smaller to pay for our social needs. And they of course rely on the strength of America and they hope for the best. Were we to follow that kind of course, there would be no one that could stand to protect us.”
“The other is to commit to preserve America as the strongest military in the world, second to none, with no comparable power anywhere in the world,” he said. “We choose that course. We choose that course for America not just so that we can win wars, but so we can prevent wars. Because a strong America is the best deterrent to war that ever has been invented.”
As the chart below the fold shows, core U.S. defense spending (that is, outside of Iraq and Afghanistan war funding in red) has risen during every year of the Obama administration. Nevertheless, Mitt Romney announced last fall, "I will reverse President Obama's massive defense cuts." Then during last week's NATO summit in Chicago, Romney penned an op-ed to charge:
"The United States [is] on a path to a hollow military."
If that sound bite rings a bell, it should. That's because the same slander was a centerpiece of Texas Governor George W. Bush's successful campaign 12 years ago.