Hospitality That Costs <i>You</I>

Bob Schieffer

To all the campaign debate over how much tax money will be set aside for this and that, I want to add another category: an estimate of how much the next administration and Congress intend to waste.

I say that because the General Accounting Office has just sent out the bill for that big military show that Philadelphia Congressmen Curt Weldon and Robert Brady arranged for their visiting colleagues who were staying at the old Philadelphia Navy Base during the Republican National Convention last summer.

They convinced the Pentagon to set up an exhibit of tanks, airplanes, helicopters, and other neat stuff.

The Pentagon dispatched 266 people to oversee the exhibit including public relations officers to handle the press. The PR people had it the easiest. When we sent a TV crew out to take pictures, they were told to go away, because the exhibit was closed to the press and public.

So who saw it? Well, the General Accounting Office reports it was viewed by 35 members of Congress, eight members of the Russian parliament, and some firemen who were in the area. All for a cost of $609,000.

I don't fault the military. They do as they are told. Nor do I blame the hometown congressmen for wanting to do something nice. But why should we pay for it?

In my group, when someone's child gets married, six or eight couples give a nice party and then we all split the cost.

Maybe that's the solution here. I know $600,000 is too much for a couple of congressmen to pay out of their own pockets. But if they could just find a way to split the cost with all the civilian officials at the Pentagon who signed off on this thing, now that would be a sign of real hospitality.