Clinton jabs at Bush and proposes a GI bill
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton launched a wide-ranging attack on the Bush administration’s treatment of U.S. soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan on Thursday, saying the White House was so inept it couldn’t run a “two-car parade.”
Clinton, a New York Democrat who is running for president, joined a chorus of politicians decrying conditions at the Army’s Walter Reed Army Medical Center. She called for a new GI bill of rights modeled on the broad array of benefits offered to World War II veterans.
Her proposal, which came with no cost estimate, aims at improving health facilities, increasing physical and mental health screenings for soldiers, speeding up payments to the families of the dead, and clarifying guardianship rules for orphaned children.
“This administration is frankly unable to run a two-car parade,” Clinton said during a speech at the Center for American Progress, a think tank whose founders worked in her husband’s White House. Her staff characterized her speech as a major address.
Republican National Committee spokeswoman Tracey Schmitt dismissed Clinton’s proposal as the “politically convenient calculation that Americans have come to expect from the senator,” adding, “someone should remind Hillary Clinton that President Bush isn’t on the ballot in 2008.”
Clinton also backed a Democratic plan Thursday to mandate a phased withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.
The binding resolution is aimed at ending major operations there by next March.
Clinton, who supported the October 2002 resolution authorizing the Iraq invasion, took a dim view of the measure’s chances, however, telling her audience at the Center for American Progress that Senate Republicans would probably kill it.
Democrats have seized on the Walter Reed problems to discredit the administration’s planning for the war and its aftermath.