Tony Blankley

"A System Not Serving our Troops as Well as They Serve Us: As the shameful events at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the recent reports on growing numbers of homeless and unemployed veterans show, we simply are not taking proper care of our wounded warriors and veterans.

"Fully Equip Our Troops for the Missions They Face: Barack Obama and Joe Biden believe we must get vitally needed equipment to our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines before lives are lost. We cannot repeat such failures as the delays in deployment of armored vehicles, body armor and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles that save lives on the frontlines.

"In this Section

"--Invest in a 21st Century Military

"--Build Defense Capabilities for the 21st Century

"--Restore the Readiness of the National Guard and Reserves

"--Develop Whole of Government Initiatives to Promote Security

"--Restore Our Alliances

"--Reform Contracting"

That makes it sound as if he was planning to increase spending dramatically. We shall see.

But even his decision to keep former President George W. Bush's defense secretary, Robert Gates, could be judged shrewdly if he plans cuts. A Republican holdover is in the weakest possible political position to defend his department's budget. If Obama had selected his own powerful Democratic Party politician for defense secretary (as he did with Hillary Clinton at the State Department), that person would fight to defend his or her budget. You can bet Hillary will bring all her power to bear on increasing the State Department budget. But as a Republican, Defense Secretary Gates has no stick to fight possible defense budget cuts.

Even Obama's decision on which Republican political appointees Gates could keep was revealing. He let Gates keep about two-thirds of his appointees -- mostly in the war-fighting parts of the Pentagon budget. But Obama insisted on his own appointees (which he, of course, had every right to do) for those slots that managed family support and other social services (as opposed to war fighting). Now, those are also vital -- taking care of the health, housing and education of our troops and their families.

But it is revelatory that politically Obama wants to manage DOD social services closely. However, in the war-fighting and weapons-systems part of the Defense Department, he will leave Bush appointees in charge. They will not be able to defend their vital budgets politically, and Obama can hold them responsible for gutting their own programs, should he try to do so.

Of course, at a time when he is proposing trillions of dollars of deficit spending -- and at a time when our military needs at least $100 billion just to replace war materiel (such as trucks, other vehicles, munitions, communications equipment, etc.) that has been used up in Iraq and Afghanistan and not yet replaced -- he is not allocating any of the trillion-dollar "stimulus" deficit to pay for such assembly line-starting and militarily necessary new spending. That might be taken as a hint of his long-term plans for defense needs.

We have elected ourselves a true artist. But beware: "Ars est celare artem." (Translation: "True art conceals the means by which it is achieved.")

Tony Blankley

Tony Blankley, a conservative author and commentator who served as press secretary to Newt Gingrich during the 1990s, when Republicans took control of Congress, died Sunday January 8, 2012. He was 63.

Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.

In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.

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