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Tuesday, August 24, 2004

More on Kerry vs Swift Vets

An editorial in the Wall Street Journal give a pretty balanced summation of the controversies the Swift Vets have leveled against John Kerry and his reponse to them. It makes a couple of points that are worthy of quoting.

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?
Vietnam is perhaps the most contentious split in American politics. It has been hanging over the political discourse for 30 years, to such an extent that even someone like me, who is too young to remember the controversy then, has opinions on and is troubled by, the events of that war and the peace movement at home. Vietnam is such a serious divide that we have almost ignored it, in an effort to maintain civil politics. John Kerry, amoung the most divisive figures to emerge from that era, and running on a platform of vietnam heroism on the one hand and anti-war leadership credentials on the other has forced the divide back to the surface. Add in that Boomers always enjoy reliving their glory days and we expect a very shrill political season this fall. In some ways this bit is even more interesting:
The "war crimes" canard isn't so easily handled, however. It relates directly to our current effort in Iraq, where U.S. constancy is as much an issue now as it was in Vietnam. Mr. Kerry's denunciation of the U.S. at that time presaged a career in which he has always been quick to attack the moral and military purposes of American policy--in Central America, against the Soviet Union, and of course during the current Iraq War that he initially voted for. It's certainly fair to wonder if Mr. Kerry will have the fortitude to fight to victory in Iraq if he does win in November. Or will he call for retreat the way he and so many other liberals did when Vietnam became difficult?


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