Liberally Conservative

"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free....... ~Ronald Reagan~

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

John Kerry's Boomerang

The issue here, as I have heard it raised, is was he present and active on duty in Alabama at the times he was supposed to be. ... Just because you get an honorable discharge does not in fact answer that question. --John Kerry, questioning President Bush's military-service record, February 8, 2004. A good rule in politics is that anyone who picks a fight ought to be prepared to finish it. But having first questioned Mr. Bush's war service, and then made Vietnam the core of his own campaign for President, Mr. Kerry now cries No mas! because other Vietnam vets are assailing his behavior before and after that war. What did Mr. Kerry expect, anyway? That claiming to be a hero himself while accusing other veterans of "war crimes" -- as he did back in 1971 and has refused to take back ever since -- would somehow go unanswered? That when he raised the subject of one of America's most contentious modern events, no one would meet him at the barricades? Mr. Kerry brought the whole thing up; why is it Mr. Bush's obligation now to shut it down? Simply because some rich Bush-backers are funding Swift Boat Veterans for Truth is hardly an adequate answer. Some rich Kerry-backers are spending far more to attack Mr. Bush's record, and the Senator was only too happy to slipstream behind Michael Moore's smear that Mr. Bush was a Vietnam-era "deserter." Anyone who spends five minutes reading the Swift Boat Veterans' book ("Unfit for Command") will quickly realize that their attack has nothing to do with Mr. Bush. This is all about Mr. Kerry and what the veterans believe was his blood libel against their service when he told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in the spring of 1971 that all American soldiers had committed war crimes as a matter of official policy. "Crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command" were among his incendiary words. Mr. Kerry has never offered proof of those charges, yet he has never retracted them either. At his recent coronation in Boston he managed the oxymoronic feat of celebrating both his own war-fighting valor and his antiwar activities when he returned home. This is why the Swifties are so incensed, and this is why no less than World War II veteran Bob Dole joined the fray on the weekend to ask that Mr. Kerry apologize for his unproven accusations. There's also little doubt that he has exaggerated some of his exploits -- especially that Christmas in Cambodia sojourn we now know never happened -- even to the strange extent of restaging events while in Vietnam so he could film them for political posterity. Modesty is not one of his virtues, in contrast to Mr. Dole and other modern veteran candidates who did not flaunt their noble service. But whatever doubts still exist could probably be put to rest if Mr. Kerry simply released all of his service records. The irony here is that a main reason Mr. Kerry has focused so much on Vietnam is to avoid debating Iraq and the rest of his long record in the Senate. He wants Americans to believe that a four-month wartime biography is credential enough to be commander-in-chief. But a candidate who runs on biography can't merely pick the months of his life that he likes -- any more than a candidate who makes Vietnam the heart of his campaign can confine the resulting debate to his personal home video.

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