Yesterday, the Senate voted 75–22 to pass Sen. Jim Webb’s (D-VA) 21st Century GI Bill, in a rebuke to President Bush, who opposes the measure. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) skipped the vote to hold a swanky fundraiser in California — one of only three senators to miss the vote (Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) was gone for health reasons, and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) had to attend a funeral).
After Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) criticized McCain’s opposition to the bill yesterday, McCain went on the attack, first in a lengthy and vitriolic press release and then in a press conference, during which he insisted that he had the support of “literally every veterans organization” in the country:
I believe that I have earned the right to speak out on veterans’ issues. As a matter of fact I received the highest award from literally every veteran’s organization in America. I don’t know if the American people will judge Senator Obama as to whether he has military experience or not, but they may judge him as to whether he has experience and knowledge to make the judgment necessary to care for the veterans.
In fact, his stance against the GI bill not only places him squarely in the minority of the Senate, but puts him in opposition to the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, the American Legion, and the national commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
The recognition McCain has received from veterans groups is not “high awards” but failing grades:
— Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America gave McCain a grade of D for his record of voting against veterans. (By contrast, Obama got a B+.)
— Disabled Veterans of America noted McCain’s dismal 20 percent voting record on veterans’ issues. (Obama had an 80 percent.)