when they say draft they don't mean beer

from: The Bush administration

(Sept. 27) - The e-mails popped up this past spring and have been circulating at an increasingly furious pace. Their unsettling message: The Bush administration, bogged down in Iraq, has made a secret pact with a lame-duck senator and a liberal congressman to resume the military draft as early as next June. Like many rumors, this one contains a germ of truth: Legislation in Congress would resurrect the draft -- this time for young women as well as young men. But "the bill is collecting dust," says Ilene Zeldin, a spokeswoman for Democratic Sen. Ernest Hollings of South Carolina, the Senate bill's author. The House bill, by Democratic Rep. Charles Rangel of New York, is dormant too. "Rangel hasn't pushed the issue," says spokesman Emile Milne. And the Bush administration has said repeatedly it has no plans to reinstitute the draft, which ended in 1973. Despite the denials, the draft-comeback rumors seem to be gaining strength. Their resiliency suggests that many Americans have anxieties lurking just below the surface over the conflict in Iraq. With U.S. forces stretched thin in Iraq and Afghanistan, and thousands of Army reservists required to serve extended tours of duty, the idea that the draft may have to be reinstituted strikes some as plausible, if not inevitable. Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry last week fueled the concern -- perhaps in a bid to improve his standing with women, who may be particularly sensitive to the potential costs of the war. Mr. Kerry hinted that the draft might return in a second Bush term. "If George Bush were to be re-elected, given the way he has gone about this war and given his avoidance of responsibility in North Korea and Iran and other places, is it possible? I can't tell you," Mr. Kerry said. Ralph Nader, meanwhile, began raising the prospect months ago. "Young Americans need to know that a train is coming," he said in April. The bills reinstating the draft were introduced in January 2003, a few months before the Iraq war, for somewhat different reasons. The 82-year-old Mr. Hollings, who is retiring at the end of this year, has long believed that national service builds character. Mr. Rangel, who has many poor and minority constituents, said he wanted to make the point that both rich and poor should share the burden of any Iraq war, which he opposed. He has nevertheless gotten many complaints from people asking " 'how he could get in bed with Bush,' " says his spokesman, Mr. Milne.



21 20 19 18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 X 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1