While campaigning in Pennsylvania yesterday, Bush brought up something that I haven’t heard about in a while: ballistic missile defense. From a Washington Post article:
President Bush reaffirmed his administration’s commitment to building an antimissile system, accusing opponents of the program of “living in the past.” Although Bush did not mention his Democratic rival by name on Tuesday, his speech here at a Boeing Co. plant included a thinly veiled attack on John F. Kerry’s stance on missile defense. “I think those who oppose this ballistic missile system don’t understand the threats of the 21st century.”
…The president noted that last month Boeing engineers loaded the first missile interceptor into a silo in Alaska — describing that as the beginning of a national shield “envisioned by Ronald Reagan.”
I think that the phrase “living in the past” does not mean quite what Bush thinks it does. Because apparently Bush thinks that when Kerry worries more about the threat of a terrorist attack on the US than the threat of a ballistic missile attack he is “living in the past”, while his own determination to fulfill a plan set in motion 20 years ago, during the height of the Cold War, to protect the US from ballistic missile attack is not.
Is the possibility of an attack on the US by ballistic missiles really a more current threat than a terrorist attack? Most people would have agreed that it was, a decade or two ago. But apparently Bush thinks it still is. Because while maintaining billions of dollars per year in funding for ballistic missile defense, he is skimping on funding for protection against a terrorist attack, as has been well documented.
Sure, a ballistic missile defense system would be great if it were free. But so would a shiny new car provided by the government to every person in the US. Every spending decision rules out other possibilities, and it seems clear that the US has other far more pressing security needs that aren’t being met. But I guess understanding that all choices involve tradeoffs and sacrifices is something that only grownups understand, and not our President.