Blogs > Liberty and Power > Sure You Wanna' Pick This Fight?

Feb 10, 2004 12:35 pm

Sure You Wanna' Pick This Fight?

So conservatives from Limbaugh to Lowry to Hannity to Goldberg are hitting back at questions about President Bush's Vietnam National Guard service by questioning John Kerry's patriotism, apparently because Kerry protested the war after he came home from serving. They're rolling old tape of Kerry testifying before Congress, telling horrible tales of wartime terror and abuses by U.S. soldiers which, NR's Lowry said last night on Fox News"slandered an entire generation of servicemen." They've also brought out an old photo where Kerry is in the same general proximity as"Hanoi" Jane Fonda.

Bush, they say, supported Vietnam. Kerry didn't. This I guess makes Bush a patriot, Kerry a traitor.

(Bush seems to respond to questions about his NG guard duty -- as he did with Russert -- by tossing out the red herring that questions about his own questionable NG service are akin to questioning the loyalty of NG volunteers generally.)

Here's what you have to believe to buy into this load of tripe:

A) Man A volunteers for military service in wartime, despite possessing the background and privilege that could have gotten him a deferment. He serves honorably, is wounded, and wins multiple medals for heroism. Somewhere along the way, he begins to doubt the usefulness of the war, and the sincerity and honesty of the politicians waging it. When he returns from service, he speaks up, and chastises what he believes to wasteful and foolish foreign policy, and the needless loss of life of 60,000+ U.S. troops.

B) Man B, knowing that grad school deferments are becoming harder and harder to come by, opts for the National Guard to avoid serving in Vietnam. He accumulates a spotty record while there, and is disciplined for failing to show for meetings and physicals. There are large discrepencies in his record of service. He ends his NG stint early once he realizes he can safely go to Harvard for his MBA without fear of getting drafted. But he supported the Vietnam war, at least in principle.

To buy the current conservative defense of President Bush, you have to believe that Man B is more of a patriot than Man A. In hawk land, fighting and bleeding for your country isn't nearly as indicative of a man's loyalty to country as his willingness to send other men to bleed and die, in this case for a war that history has shown to be a failure and a fraud.

I'm no Karl Rove, but I'm thinking all of this will be a tough sell come November

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