DRESS-UP DEFENSE….It’s been increasingly obvious for a while that deployment of our first missile defense system is being timed to coincide with the election. After all, it’s a good photo-op and a good chance for the president to declare that he’s working hard to keep America safe from terrorists with ICBMs.

By now, in fact, the election-driven schedule is so transparently obvious that even the guy who was in charge of the Pentagon’s operational test and evaluation office until 2001 knows it:

“Ever since the president made his decision, the priority of the program has been on deployment, not on understanding whether the system works,” said Mr. Coyle, now a senior adviser at the Center for Defense Information, a private research group. “Most people don’t appreciate how complicated this system is, nor how much all of the tests so far have been artificially scripted to be successful.”

Bill Clinton was eager to deploy the system too during the 2000 election, but he listened to the science and realized that it just wasn’t ready. It still isn’t, but George Bush doesn’t care. As far as he’s concerned, a pretend defense is just as good as the real thing as long as it looks good in a campaign brochure.

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