“In fact, the press that covers me on a regular basis I think is kind of bored because I just talk about solutions,” a raspy-voiced Hillary Clinton told Larry King on Monday night.
They really are. So bored! Bored with all those SOLUTIONS! But she also had good news, everybody! Hillary Clinton is staying in the race for FOREVER—“until we get Florida and Michigan resolved”—which will be slightly after the time that Democratic National Party Chair Howard Dean drops dead and just before Satan returns to rule on earth.
Fortunately, our country has, for now, a rich resource of small-town papers, which still publish edited collections of stump speech transcripts that the national and the traveling press will never transcribe again, as they sit in their reserved seats at events and practice stabbing themselves to stay awake.
The small-town papers also answer one new question: How do you miff a Pennsylvanian? Tardiness, it seems, is the No. 1 offense. And since Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton haven’t been on time for anything since back in January, there’s a lot of slightly pissy PA-ians for this primary.
From the Lewistown Sentinel (Hillary Clinton: tardy by 45 minutes) to the Wayne Suburban (Barack Obama: a full hour late but he apologized), the locals were appalled by the candidate’s inability to cross their entirely too-wide state and arrive on time. (This last week, in a strange choice, Clinton spent most nights in Philadelphia, even while she campaigned most days in the west.)
So the only good news about this primary is that we know exactly what we have been promised by the candidates. Remarkably, they have been promising the same thing since Christmas. It’s a testament to something or other that their pledges and talking points have pretty much not changed in the slightest.
Because it was July 2007 when Senator Clinton announced she would start bringing troops home from Iraq 60 days after her installation as U.S. president. (Of course, the Senate has been in session since then, but apparently that body has no control over military and budget matters whatsoever.) She brought this up in nearly every speech in PA—the Iraq war polled usually as the No. 2 concern of voters.
So you know: Just hang on until late March 2009, everyone!
But really, there are few situations in which speech matters less than in a stump speech, particularly given the distance in time between a promise and its possible execution.
By last month’s count by the AP, 187 Pennsylvania residents or others with “close ties” to the region had died in our current wars. (Fourteen from Philadelphia, seven from Pittsburgh.) In that state, just under five in every 1,000 people are in service. (All told, 35,000 have served in the Gulf wars; 400,000 served in Vietnam.) The state has more than 1.1 million veterans—somewhere from 8 to 10 percent of the state’s population.
The state has shouldered (according to the nonprofit National Priorities Project) $12.6 billion for its share of the cost of the war, and the state is home to 248 Iraqi refugees. Its bankruptcy filings went up 25 percent from 2006 to 2007; there were almost 30,000 of them.
The first Pennsylvania soldier to die in the two current wars, Christopher Scott Seifer, did so in March 2003. (He was killed by another soldier. The next to die did so from noncombat weapon discharge; the third, friendly fire.)
According to Veterans for America, 17,000 of the National Guard have gone to the war in Iraq and the other war, which is in Afghanistan-the Philippines-Africa. Now the 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team Reservist—4,000 National Guard soldiers—are among the units preparing to ship over next year, for the first time. It’s almost like there’s an endless supply of bodies. “We’re looking forward to it,” one of the unit’s captains told the Waynesboro Record Herald.
And then after all that buildup, they’ll just have to turn right around and come home, apparently.
—Additional research by Em Whitney