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"particularly given Bush's non-service during the same conflict" - Like the majority of people who served during those years, Bush did not go to Nam. So what? Or do you think his reserve status is a lie?

As to the Swift Boat vets, they loathe Kerry. Again, so what? I loathe Kerry for entirely different reasons, and lots of folks loathe Bush. Get over it.

On the topic of rational discussions of Nam, you are right. You can't even get agreement on whether we won or lost: lots of Dems think we lost, I think we won, but then the Dems screwed the RVN's by not living up to our supply agreements, and Jerry Pournelle, among others, thinks we won period, because we bled the Russian economy worse than our own.


One thing that surprises me in the US is the lack of respect for military service. Perhaps this is because we have the Vietnam generation in power now. It was dubious war, and many shirked service; some people just don’t like to be reminded of that.

Kerry saw combat at close quarters, was in command, and his command survived. I’ve read the negative accounts and you still have a man keeping his head under direct fire. In almost any army that is what you get tin for, and rightly so, operatic valor gets men killed needlessly. Combat is a hard test and Kerry past it. There is not much more about the man to recommend him, but that is no small thing


Bush's non-service amounts to...

(1) Getting a coveted slot in the National Guard, leaping ahead of more qualified candidates for the same position. The assignment lowered his chances of going to Vietnam to practically nil.
(2) Failing to complete his service in the Texas Air National Guard.
(3) Using an inaccurate, misleading, and self-serving account of his National Guard service in his political biography and campaign speeches.
(4) Not being honest about why he did #'s 1 and 2.

As I said, I don't begrudge people's widely varying opinions about the Vietnam War. I have no problem with people who, feeling the war was a mistake, fled to Canada, burned their draft cards, or otherwise took action. I have zero respect, however, for someone who skirts their service and then doesn't even repeat the facts accurately, let alone acknowledge why he avoided the risk of death or injury that others faced.

Others, whether they served or didn't, faced the consequences of their choices. Bush didn't--but a man who didn't get his slot in the Texas Air National Guard did. Some--most famously, writers like Tim O'Brien, Philip Caputo, James Webb, and others--went to Vietnam, did things they weren't proud of doing, but were willing to discuss them in the open court of public opinion. Others got student deferments, Unitarian ordinations, a bus ticket to Toronto--anything, as they admitted, to stay out of a war they felt was wrong.

Like many Republicans, I, too, believe in personal responsibility. That's why I don't think that Bush can claim to have served honorably, or even fully, in the National Guard. I also think it's why Cheney's non-answer about his student deferment--he had "other priorities," he said--is sufficient. If you want to run on your resume, then dammit, explain how your draft status fit your beliefs about the war. Or keep the truce about Vietnam, and shut up about Kerry's service.


What you say up the last sentence seems completely correct. However, GWB has NOT been going after Kerry's military record, probably for the reasons you suggest, it is other people (like me) who do. But I am down on his record in the reserve, which is even less noble than GWB's in the NG: Bush did not lie under oath, support others who lied under oath, and have discussions with a country we were at war with WHILE IN THE MILITARY. Kerry always skates this one, and the bios I have seen do not point out that all that stuff happened while he was in the reserves.


I hold Bush responsible for what the Swift Boat Veterans are doing, for the following reasons:

(1) He doesn't discourage them. A statesman-like person might gently but firmly tell them to shut the hell up.
(2) He should know about them. With people as politically attuned as Rove in his Administration, there's no excuse for not knowing. (Much like Trent Lott and Bob Barr had no grounds for saying they didn't know what the CCC stood for.)
(3) His campaigns, in the past, have also encouraged or turned a blind eye to similar attacks--including one on Senator McCain. In that ugly case, a whispering campaign in South Carolina tried to depict McCain as a deranged survivor of North Vietnamese torture. (Plus, according to the whisperers from the campaign, McCain supposedly had a mulatto love child--when in fact, he and his wife adopted an Bangladeshi orphan.)

I can't think of anything worse for Vietnam veterans than encouraging the perception of them as dangerously traumatized psychos. But that's exactly what Bush's campaign did--and Bush himself never disavowed. Just as he and his subordinates are not doing anything about the Swift Boat Veterans now.


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