Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Clip show

My recent posts about SouthSide Works (also see Fester's thoughts here) and the coming battle over invitro fertilization elicited some interesting discussions. And my frequent anonymous commentor has some thoughts on John Kerry's recently disclosed military records, Howard Dean and pot-smoking sick people.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I want all royalties from your lucrative John Kerry banner ads.

5:06 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's a very fine analysis of all things Kerry-ed away by Kaus at Slate:


I've noticed that our political acumen increases the closer we're tugged into the orbit of the worst candidate since McGovern.

My reservations about Kerry, of course, are manifold, but because of my veteran status I know more than the typical columnists one finds extolling his Naval gazing.

In particular -- he was issed a DD-214 upon discharge from his duty in the U.S. Navy Reserve (he held a reserve commission). The only DD-214 he's presented is a revised version filed in 1981, I believe, which would have been a good six years, give or take, since he was owed a discharge.

The smart money always has been that the Navy brass gave him an other than honorable discarge (OTH), but not a dishonorable or bad conduct discharge (or, BCD, commonly referred to as a Big Chicken Differ), which goes on your permanent record as a criminal felony conviction.

He received said OTH for meeting with leaders of the Viet Cong in Paris in 1971, four years before the fall of Saigon and while U.S. troops were still fighting, and getting killed by, these very same VC.

Not only that, but he wrote a book that portrayed in effigy a gaggle of hippies raising a upside-down U.S. flag, aping the scene of Mt. Suribachi, Iwo Jima, in WWII.

Go figure that his Naval officers, many of whom served at Iwo Jima, might have found the mocking of a famous flag-raising ceremony that today commemorates the 6,825 American men who died taking that island a bit disturbing.

I certainly wouldn't challenge Kerry's opposition to a stupid war and the way it was prosecuted in SE Asia. But it's important to remember that he broke the law by meeting with the Viet Cong in Paris in 1971, that he understand this law and chose to accept its consequences as a Naval officer.

That bought him an Other than Honorable discharge, a discharge that was changed by the new President Jimmy Carter in 1981, part of his outreach to the disaffected generation that included the "pardoning" of all draft dodgers who fled the U.S. to avoid service in Vietnam.

Fair enough. Remember, it was Kerry's decision to base his entire campaign, in its early stages, on his service in Vietnam.

Well, if you're going to do that, be prepared for all aspects of that service to be questioned. Bush certainly didn't front his campaign with Texas Air National Guard buddies who didn't remember him showing up for drill, but had he done so it would have been grist for the pack, too.

Perhaps I'm most disturbed by my own party, which accepted Kerry's myth making and outright lies at face value, that allowed him to hide behind a refusal to disclose all of his military records (unlike Bush) and believe, somehow, that a few months of service nearly 40 years on a boat in Vietnam somehow makes him an expert on defense, the War on Terror or the ongoing revitalization of the U.S. military.

It didn't. Lieberman knew it. So did Clinton. But they didn't want to warp the candidacy of the Chosen One (thanks Iowa!) and the DNC's push to rally behind the early front runner and save money for the general election (cash was poorly spent -- thanks Heinz!).

Now he's maneuvering to raise funds for another run against the GOP in 2008. Since much of this fund raising is now conducted from the Internet, it seems, to me anyway, that bloggers should work together to end the national nightmare that is John Forbes Kerry blight on popular democracy.

Please, JP, make him stop!

10:24 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ugggh. Please pardon the many typos. I need coffee.

10:29 AM

Blogger Jonathan Potts said...

Here's what I wrote on the subject of Kerry's Vietnam service last year in Pulp. This was the raw copy:

Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry’s presidential campaign reportedly faced quite a quandary last week. Campaign workers were having a tough time deciding whether to disrupt rallies for President George W. Bush by sending someone dressed as Pinocchio, a mule or a chicken. The dilemma, you see, revolved around whether to portray the president as a liar, as stubborn, or as a draft dodger.

Ignoring for the moment what this tells us about the nation’s current state of political discourse, one can debate the efficacy of the first two options. Pinocchio is an effective if shopworn way of impugning someone’s honesty. The mule is perhaps a stretch—the phrase “stubborn as a mule,” seems a tad old-fashioned, and besides, one can make a case that stubbornness isn’t always a bad thing.

But it’s the chicken that is really problematic. I can sympathize with Kerry’s desire to contrast his combat record in Vietnam to Bush’s seemingly cushy stints during the early 1970s with the Texas and Alabama Air National Guard. You could say that an administration that has spent the past three years disparaging its critics’ patriotism gets what it deserves.

Yet I can’t help but wonder how former President Bill Clinton feels about being called a chicken by his fellow Democrat. Clinton, as we all know, while lacking the privileged connections of his successor, did Bush one better during Vietnam: He managed to avoid military service altogether. And he wasn’t alone: Scarcely a third of the men of draft age during the Vietnam War served in the military, and only about 10 percent of men of military age served in Vietnam, according to the Encyclopedia of the Vietnam War.

I’m sure there were a few “chickens” among them. Just as I’m sure there were many genuine conscientious objectors; others who simply didn’t think it was worth getting killed for a war whose objectives were unclear; and even some, like Vice President Dick Cheney has said of himself, who simply had other priorities. None of the men in my family who were of draft age during the Vietnam War were in the military. I’ve never asked why, but not having had to face that situation myself, I have no right to judge their answer in any case.

John Kerry, having been wounded and won medals in Vietnam, may feel he has earned that right. But while it may be too much to ask politicians in the heat of an election contest to consider the long-term implications of their campaign strategies, I’d like him to consider it nonetheless. Does he really want to imply that the majority of the men of his generation who didn’t serve are less fit for the Oval Office than the minority of those who did? Or those who have served in uniform are more qualified to be commander-in-chief?

I don’t recall John Kerry endorsing the first President Bush, a World War II veteran, over Clinton; nor did he support Bob Dole, another World War II vet, over Clinton four years later. Like Kerry, Dole made his combat service, which left him permanently disabled, a centerpiece of his campaign, but he didn’t use it as a club to thrash his opponent.

What Kerry is really saying, of course, is that the president is a hypocrite because he sends young men and women to die in an unnecessary war, but when the time came for him to fight in an unnecessary war, he took a pass. Yet Kerry’s past betrays him: He came back from Vietnam a bitter opponent of the war, and famously asked, “How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?” It was a good question. Why, then, should Bush be punished for not wanting to die for the same mistake?

It would be wrong, however, to imply that Democrats have a monopoly on hypocrisy when it comes to who served and who didn’t. Many Republicans did claim in 1992 that Clinton’s evasion of the draft made him unfit to be president, a charge they repeated when he attempted to lift the military’s ban on homosexuals. And when Kerry first started to question Bush’s National Guard service, the president accused Kerry of insulting today’s members of the National Guard. This is disingenuous at best—at least 60,000 members of the Guard have been sent to Iraq; fewer than 9,000 Guard members fought in Vietnam, and, according to the National Archives, only 97 of the 58,000 soldiers who died in Vietnam were members of the National Guard.

A little honesty here would be refreshing, and could go a long way toward healing the nation’s lingering wounds over Vietnam. President Bush could say—he came close in a 1994 interview Houston Chronicle interview—“Look, I didn’t want to fight in Vietnam. As Senator Kerry has said, it wasn’t worth dying for. So instead, I decided to join the National Guard. I thank those who fought in my place. And I respect the opinion of those who believed the war was wrong.”

I, too, would like to thank John Kerry for his service; he was a braver man in war than I think I would be. But now that he’s running for president, I’ll judge him on his political record, as I will the man whose job he seeks.

7:31 PM


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