Cross-posted from BlogHer.
Oh the irony.
After years of being told "I've never met anyone from Montana before!" my home state of fewer than one million people will have a high profile Tuesday when voters in Montana and South Dakota (with even fewer inhabitants) go to the polls to decide which Democratic nominee gets their combined 31 delegates.
But we're not here today to talk about the Election 2008 horse race. Given the divisive acrimony created by the ongoing battle for delegates between the Clinton and Obama campaigns, I think it's time we focus our community's attention on a policy issue that partisan bickering won't resolve: Iraq.
How appropriate for Montana and South Dakota, where we locals grow up familiar with the sight of yellow ribbons tied around trees. In Montana, where logging and mining have taken a beating in the past 30 years, and where a $6.55 minimum wage means a full-time wage-earner earns $13,624 a year for starters, military careers represent a fantastic opportunity for advancement and education. It's no surprise to me that Montana ranks second for the number of troops killed in Iraq per capita at 25 per million residents as of May 1.
That's why in this post, I'm going to focus on the candidates' answers to your Voter Manifesto questions about Iraq below:
BlogHer Voter Manifesto
Topic: Iraq Questions: 1. Will you work to end the Iraq war before the 2008 election? If so, how? 2. The war is draining our country’s finances, and even with a significant troop pullout, the costs will not end soon. How do you propose to keep paying for the costs of war? 3. What are you physically going to do to help the Veteran's Administration and soldiers in need, instead of just paying lip service?
Read all 12 questions
I chronicle answers by Senators Clinton, McCain and Obama in their own words and in pretty excruciating detail below.
I have to share that, when it comes to caring for veterans, I can only read these opinions with the eyes of a woman whose best friend from fifth grade shipped off to Germany after our high school graduation. I was lucky enough to go straight to college. She went straight into the Army, started her down a path that resulted in her earning a Ph.D. in German; today she leads the town's high school German program.
I'm relieved to see action plans for veterans in all three candidate planks, specific plans with voting records and dollar amounts next to them. John McCain's plans for the future are less well articulated, but given his decades-long voting record on the subject of veterans, I'm satisfied that I know where he stands. I think both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama chart strong, clear plans to reversing the abysmal record of health service to veterans that we saw with the shameful legacy of Walter Reed. The key with any new administration will be rewarding news organizations like The Washington Post to continue to watchdog this essential issue.
As for Iraq? Nothing speaks more loudly than the stark contrast between Sen. McCain's language and that of Senators Obama and Clinton, between the Democrats' immediate plans for initiating withdrawal if they take office -- not to mention Sen. Obama's ongoing opposition for the war -- and Sen. McCain's strong belief that the latest surge has been "paid off" and that "those gains would be lost if we we were to...withdraw most of our troops" at this time.
Enough of my impressions -- I want to hear yours, once you read their policies. Here's what I found when I took these questions to the Web sites of presidential candidates, seeking their solution to Iraq here's what I found -- in alphabetical order, first by party and second by last name...
Please go read the rest over here on BlogHer -- look forward to hearing what you think I missed.