John Kerry’s latest scare tactic is to say President Bush will, if re-elected, reinstate the draft. Setting aside the likelihood that Kerry’s simply having more Vietnam-era flashbacks, let’s look at the possibility of that actually happening. This is in spite of specific, explicit denials from Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and numerous other Administration officials.
Like all good lies, there’s a grain of truth behind it. There is a bill before Congress to reinstate the draft. But it’s supporters are some of the most liberal Democrats in the House and Senate. (Hollings, Rangel, Conyers, McDermott, Norton, Stark, etc. etc.) Further, it’s been bottled up in committees for the last 18 months.
But let’s just give the devil his due and presume that President Bush does, indeed, have a secret plan to reinstate the draft. Just what would that entail?
First, he’d have to get it through Congress. That presumes that he could get it through any potential filibusters in both houses. That means he’d have to get 60 senators and (I’m unfamiliar with House rules, but if the percentages are the same as the Senate, 261 representatives) to sign off on it. Currently the Republicans have nowhere near that many seats, and I’m presuming that Senator Kerry will lead the fight against it. (Presuming, of course, he bothers to show up to vote against it after voting for it.)
But we’ll continue with Senator Kerry’s scary scenario and presume that President Bush does, indeed, sweep both Houses and gains the support he needs to get the Selective Service Act of 2005 passed. What would happen then?
The first thing would be legal challenges, more legal challenges, and yet more legal challenges. Lawyers would be at courthouse doors before the ink dried on the bill. They’d sue on the basis of discrimination, they’d sue to exclude “disabled” draftees (ADD being the first “disqualifying” condition of about a dozen I can come up with). Lawyers representing would-be draftees would keep the implementation of the law tied up for years.
But suppose the law that is passed is, somehow, unlike any other piece of legislation in history, somehow lawyer-proof. Will that still guarantee a large enough pool of conscriptees? I think not.
The first thing that would have to go would be the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy against gays in the military. With homosexuality and bisexuality becoming more and more socially acceptable, many teenagers will weigh the risks of being drafted versus any stigma from public proclamations of homosexual leanings or experiments and answer with a resounding “well, duh! of course!” to questions in that vein.
The second policy that will have to get tossed on the trash heap will be some of the physical requirements. I’ve never been through a pre-enlistment physical, but I am a long-time blood donor and the screenings have to be at least that rigorous. You cannot donate blood if you’ve had any tattoos or piercings within the last six months. So kiss goodbye another huge percentage of inductees.
But let’s give Kerry even more credit and presume these (and many other) obstacles) can be overcome, and the government actually manages to meet it’s draft quotas for a year or two. Just what will be the political ramifications of a reinstated draft?
The Bush Republican Landslide of 2004 that made the draft possible will be completely wiped out and reversed in the Bush Republican Landfill of 2006, as nearly every single Representative and Senator (those up for re-election in 2006) who voted for the draft will be unceremoniously tossed out on their asses by a royally pissed-off electorate. The term “lame duck President,” previously used to discuss second-term President’s last two years, will be replaced by the phrase “lame-Dubya President” to describe a chief executive utterly lacking in any authority or clout or effectiveness. And 2008 will mark the beginning of a long run of Democratic, anti-draft presidents and, quite possibly, the end of the Republican party as a national power for nearly a decade.
So, Senator Kerry, cut the crap about Bush wanting to reinstate the draft. That dog don’t hunt. As your mentor, Senator Kennedy, might say, it’s water under the bridge. Or, in your own terms, that board has sailed without you.