What Is It All About

Fred Barnes does an excellent job summarizing what all the Swifty attacks are about.

THERE’S NEVER BEEN a presidential campaign like John Kerry’s. Never has a presidential nominee made his own experience in a war the centerpiece of his campaign for the White House. In 1960, John F. Kennedy didn’t hide his World War II record as commander of PT-109, but he didn’t talk it up either. When asked about being a hero, he mocked the idea and said it stemmed from having his boat shot out from under him. John McCain’s experience as a POW in Vietnam was well known when he ran for the Republican nomination in 2000. But he rarely mentioned it, except to note that his longest place of residence was Hanoi. Kerry is different. His speeches, TV ads, interviews, the entire Democratic convention–all have dwelled on his four months in Vietnam and the five medals he was awarded.

And there’s still another unique aspect. Never has a presidential nominee run on the basis of his role in a war he opposed. Dwight Eisenhower, Teddy Roosevelt, Andrew Jackson, William Henry Harrison, and the five ex-Union officers in the Civil War who became president benefited politically from their participation and leadership in a war. Most of them, in fact, were famous for their wartime service. Kerry, by contrast, became famous as a war protester, as the leader of Vietnam Veterans Against the War, who charged that war crimes were being committed by American troops in Vietnam on a daily basis. Now Kerry has stood the Vietnam issue on its head. He insists it’s his war record that shows he would be a strong president.

In the 1970’s, when it was politically expedient to be against the Vietnam War, Kerry, while still in the Naval Reserves, attacked his fellow soldiers and sailors as war criminals. He accused them of war crimes they did not commit.

In 2004, when it is politically expedient to be strong on defense, Kerry has tried to wrap himself in the flag he once spat on and used his naval service he once rejected to get ahead politically.

It is shameful.

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Erick Erickson

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