Don't be spooked by talk about the draft

October 31, 2004|by Dee Mayberry

If readers are worried about ghoulies and ghosties this Halloween, they may be right on target. Out there floating behind the presidential candidates is the huge thing from the Black Lagoon.

As a backdrop to the speeches and debates in this campaign season is the great ghostly whisper of a word not heard since 1973. The word is draft. It peeks out from John Kerry's call for "two more divisions in the Middle East." It hangs over two Democratic bills in the U.S. Congress. Long-standing House member from New York, Charlie Rangle, is the author of one bill. The other is proposed by South Carolina Sen. Fritz Hollings.

While the rest of us have our eyes on polls, Republicans on Capitol Hill are determined to ensure draft legislation is crushed.

John Kerry does not mention that his side of the aisle brought up the "D" word in the first place. He does not tell us that a president alone can't do a draft. Keeping this problem away takes two - a cooperative Congress and the president.


In the third debate, George Bush provided a "no" loud and clear. On Capitol Hill, House GOP draft opponents put the Rangle go-draft bill on a neat little track called the "suspension calendar." Some readers will recognize the suspension calendar as one allowing no amendments, mandates limited debate and requires a straight go or no-go vote.

No doubt hearing from folks back home, Rangle voted against his own draft bill. May it rest in peace.

Across the way, in the Senate, sits the other Democrat, Fritz Hollings watching his draft bill gasping its last, tied down and bottled up in committee. By such means have the president and a no draft Republican majority pulled together to take the "boo" out of this particular spook.

So much for John Kerry's extra two Middle East divisions. Maybe, if elected, he could charm them out of the larger coalition he says he can muster. Maybe he could get the U.N., now engaged in an embarrassing oil-for-food scandal, to make nice and get some French or German soldiers to stand in place of our American men and women or the in-training Iraqi Army.

Self-interest, not cordiality, motivates nations, as John Kerry should know after some 20 years in the Senate. If the fine hand of Colin Powell could not coax additional troops and treasure out of others, there is no reason to believe anyone else would succeed.

To put it bluntly, the Democrat presidential candidate is a loose cannon rocketing back and forth across the national and international scene. With him rocks a wife who makes catty remarks about Laura Bush, insulting all teachers and librarians in the process.

The now-dead draft issue is worth a column or two simply because it is a new thing in this long, tiring political campaign. Matters such as the economy, Social Security, exit planning for Iraq, etc., make one think of the lines from a popular song: "A little less conversation and a lot more action, please." These issues have been talked to death, and that old liberal chestnut Social Security scare talk doesn't wash with seniors anymore. They know any change is directed toward choices for the young, not toward them.

Meanwhile, one local note of interest can be directed to angry persons who smeared ketchup on the windows of the Hagerstown GOP headquarters. Volunteers there wondered if this was an act of disrespect for Theresa Heinz Kerry or - in some disturbed way - for George Bush.

Those who did the deed need to calm down and arrange to be first in line at the polls on Tuesday. Michael Moore and his inflammatory film notwithstanding, presidential-level voters need to be thoughtful in their choices, not revved up destructively on behalf of either side.

Serious, practical thinking is characteristic of Washington County people. The Maryland panhandle, like its nearby West Virginia and Pennsylvania neighbors, seems gifted in its ability to stay balanced, to think things through, to hold fast the lessons of its rural roots.

Whether in political campaigns or daily life, it would be a great loss if rock-solid county values gave way to the furious outbursts of a Miami, Los Angeles, or even Washington, D.C. Pranksters are one thing, juvenile or adult community terrorists are another.

Dee Mayberry is a Boonsboro resident who writes for The Herald-Mail.

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