WASHINGTON -- Senate Democratic leader Robert Byrd accused the Reagan-Bush administration Wednesday of leaving the nation vulnerable to nuclear attack with 'Goofy and Daffy and Mickey Mouse' missile basing systems.
In a Senate speech aimed at campaign claims by Vice President Georg Bush that Democrats and their presidential nominee, Michael Dukakis, are weak on defense, Byrd said the administration 'is living in a glass house when it throws a stone at the Democratic Party for its so-called Disneyland defense policies.'
Byrd, of West Virginia, focused on the administration's failure to get a land-based missile that would survive a Soviet first-strike while Moscow has modernized its missile force and deployed mobile missiles.
He reviewed the history of the MX, now deployed in vulnerable silos after Reagan's rejection of a Carter administration plan to deploy 200 missiles in a racetrack pattern in Western states. There are 50 MX missiles now in vulnerable silos. Reagan recently vetoed a bill delaying to the next administration a decision on whether to make the MX missile mobile, as the Air Force wants, or to build a new, one-warhead mobile missile dubbed 'Midgetman' that was proposed by a special Reagan administration panel.
Byrd said the vulnerability of U.S. land-based missiles has grown 'because the administration has been unable to produce an acceptable solution to make our missiles survivable.'
'One ridiculous scheme after another has been floated, all of them rejected out of hand, because they were dominated by political considerations,' he said.
'Indeed, the Fantasyland exhibits of this White House's Defense Disneyland are loaded with the rejected systems that have been developed and discarded. If anything deserves the names 'Goofy' and 'Daffy' and 'Mickey Mouse,' it is those' basing proposals,' Byrd said, referring to plans to pack the missiles closely together or keep them in continuously flying airplanes.
'The truth is that this administration has refused to bite the bullet and insulate our missile systems from attack. ... It should be clear as to who is really weak and indecisive about defense policy,' said Byrd.
Byrd said the 'decade of neglect has resulted in making our country more vulnerable to a surprise attack.'
'I have to conclude that our country may be closer to accidental nuclear war with the Soviet Union than it was eight years ago,' said Byrd, adding that the administration's handling of the issue 'is a tragicomedy of irresponsibility, indecision, false starts, wasted opportunities and weak and contradictory actions.'
'Having correctly contended eight years ago that there was a critical window of vulnerability which needed immediate attention, it has ignored its own arguments. Now it is not just the window which is open, the whole side of the house is open,' Byrd said.