Reply Fri 13 Feb, 2004 09:03 am
The Kerry moment

Someday, when brain science has evolved further, specialists may be able to understand how someone like George Bush -- a man of wit and intelligence in private -- can be so unbelievably inarticulate in public. For now, it remains a mystery.


Those who dislike his policies have made a cottage industry of calling him stupid. But this reveals their own stupidity. Stupid men don't become fighter pilots, attend Harvard Business School or successfully declare and conduct a worldwide war against terrorism. They don't have the vision to understand that seeding democracy in the backwater that is the Middle East is the best long-run strategy for winning the war and ridding the world of the most dangerous threats to peace and order.

From all accounts, and even from my own very limited personal experience, it is clear that the president is quick and bright. And yet, he is also capable of an excruciating performance on "Meet the Press." Words are not this man's friend.

But this brings us to John Kerry, who has none of these problems -- but he does have others. It's a mystery to me how things have come this far -- Kerry is the all-but-certain nominee of the Democratic Party -- and yet we've heard very little about Kerry's real identity. The chat shows have featured speculation about whether Kerry's war hero status and George Bush's National Guard service will bear on the outcome in November in any way.

Now, before turning to Kerry's true identity, let me acknowledge that it would be nice if more prominent Republican leaders in this country had actually served in combat. One thinks of Sens. John McCain and Chuck Hagel, Secretary of State Colin Powell, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Rep. Duke Cunningham (who was nominated for the Medal of Honor). There are others, but the pickings are slim.

Of course John Kerry deserves honor for his heroic service in Vietnam. But the credit he earned by serving is undercut by his completely dishonorable role in the antiwar movement when he returned home. It is that history -- as well as the 20-year record he amassed in the Senate as a dovish liberal -- that sheds the most illuminating light on the kind of president he would be.

As recounted in my book "Useful Idiots," (out in paperback this month, I shamelessly note), or in Mackubin Thomas Owens's piece in the Feb. 23 issue of National Review, John Kerry returned from Vietnam and leant his prestige to the Vietnam Veterans Against the War. Though innocuous-sounding, VVAW was one of the more radical antiwar groups. Through several well-publicized stunts, including one in which Kerry participated by throwing his medals over the White House fence (he later acknowledged that the medals belonged to someone else), VVAW legitimized the libel that American soldiers in Vietnam routinely committed war crimes.

Kerry testified before Congress in 1971 to the effect that American soldiers had "raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in a fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam ..."

So spoke the man who now claims to be the "veterans' candidate." There were atrocities committed in Vietnam, as in every war. But Kerry's claim was grotesque. South Vietnam was full of American and international reporters who would have been only too happy to report such events if they had happened. My Lai was prosecuted. And, as Jug Burkett proved in his invaluable book "Stolen Valor," those atrocity stories had been made up by impostors, many of whom had never even been in Vietnam. But Kerry was there. Surely he knows that the vast majority of his fellow Americans conducted themselves as well as they could.

As a young man, Kerry embraced a view of his country as an outlaw nation. His close colleague at VVAW Al Hubbard spelled America with a "k." Kerry has never repudiated that stance, but has played it this way and that depending upon how the political wind is blowing. If antiwar fervor is the order of the day in Massachusetts, then he is the war protester who described Vietnam as an "obscene memory." If the tide turns and war service begins to seem politically useful, he is the hero of the Mekong Delta, proudly displaying his framed medals on the wall.

But his voting record tells the real story. Kerry took pride in trying to thwart Reagan's muscular anticommunism in Central America during the '80s. He supported the nuclear freeze. He opposed the first Gulf War.

He made a huge contribution to defaming the Vietnam War and creating the myth of the American soldier as monster. From his subsequent history, it seems that he came to believe in it.
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Dartagnan
 
  1  
Reply Fri 13 Feb, 2004 10:43 am
Nice of Mona Charen to share with us Kerry's "true character." A grateful nation will no doubt reject him utterly for daring to oppose the Vietnam War after he served there...
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McGentrix
 
  1  
Reply Fri 13 Feb, 2004 10:49 am
I think she does a good thing here. She is showing how a politician can try to fight 2 fronts using the same story.

On the weak-kneed liberal side, he protested the war and decried the soldiers who fought in vietnam as rapists and murderes, while on the more centrist side he portrays himself to be a war hero who fought in vietnam (perhaps as a rapist and murderer?).

Then she looks at his dove like voting record while in the senate to demonstrate his potential inability to keep America strong.
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Dartagnan
 
  1  
Reply Fri 13 Feb, 2004 11:06 am
If you're looking for weak-kneed candidates, you've got one in George ("He served honorably in Alabama--just look at these pay stubs") W. Bush.

Is there such a thing a weak-kneed conservative? Or is it a sign of courage to send others in to die for what you think is right?
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McGentrix
 
  1  
Reply Fri 13 Feb, 2004 11:10 am
D'artagnan wrote:
If you're looking for weak-kneed candidates, you've got one in George ("He served honorably in Alabama--just look at these pay stubs") W. Bush.

Is there such a thing a weak-kneed conservative? Or is it a sign of courage to send others in to die for what you think is right?


Rolling Eyes

Please remind me what the armed forces are for again? Last time I checked it was a voluntary service and each member understood what could be at risk when they sign up.

Ask any of our esteemed service men and women who frequent A2K.
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Dartagnan
 
  1  
Reply Fri 13 Feb, 2004 11:12 am
True, though I know for a fact that there are National Guard folks who aren't thrilled about being in the line of fire in Iraq.

A risk our leader never had to worry about as a member of the Guard in Alabama!
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McGentrix
 
  1  
Reply Fri 13 Feb, 2004 11:20 am
Again, each knew the risk when the joined. Happy or not. I am sure that there are regulars who are also displeased at being in the line of fire. In fact, I would be willing to bet that the majority of them are unhappy about it. That doesn't change the fact that they are willingly serving their country and following orders.

As CiC, Bush has shown proper judgement, and has surrounded himself with many of the finest military minds in the world.

What Bush did or did not do as a 20 year old kid has no bearing on what he is doing now. That seems to be the fact alluding many on the left. With age and experience comes wisdom. I would dare say that Bush now is an entirely different person than Bush 30 years ago.
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au1929
 
  1  
Reply Fri 13 Feb, 2004 11:39 am
[]

[] OP-ED COLUMNIST

The Real Man

By PAUL KRUGMAN

Published: February 13, 2004
To understand why questions about George Bush's time in the National Guard are legitimate, all you have to do is look at the federal budget published last week. No, not the lies, damned lies and statistics — the pictures.
By my count, this year's budget contains 27 glossy photos of Mr. Bush. We see the president in front of a giant American flag, in front of the Washington Monument, comforting an elderly woman in a wheelchair, helping a small child with his reading assignment, building a trail through the wilderness and, of course, eating turkey with the troops in Iraq. Somehow the art director neglected to include a photo of the president swimming across the Yangtze River.
It was not ever thus. Bill Clinton's budgets were illustrated with tables and charts, not with worshipful photos of the president being presidential.
The issue here goes beyond using the Government Printing Office to publish campaign brochures. In this budget, as in almost everything it does, the Bush administration tries to blur the line between reverence for the office of president and reverence for the person who currently holds that office.
Operation Flight Suit was only slightly more over the top than other Bush photo-ops, like the carefully staged picture that placed Mr. Bush's head in line with the stone faces on Mount Rushmore. The goal is to suggest that it's unpatriotic to criticize the president, and to use his heroic image to block any substantive discussion of his policies.
In fact, those 27 photos grace one of the four most dishonest budgets in the nation's history — the other three are the budgets released in 2001, 2002 and 2003. Just to give you a taste: remember how last year's budget contained no money for postwar Iraq — and how administration officials waited until after the tax cut had been passed to mention the small matter of $87 billion in extra costs? Well, they've done it again: earlier this week the Army's chief of staff testified that the Iraq funds in the budget would cover expenses only through September.
But when administration officials are challenged about the blatant deceptions in their budgets — or, for that matter, about the use of prewar intelligence — their response, almost always, is to fall back on the president's character. How dare you question Mr. Bush's honesty, they ask, when he is a man of such unimpeachable integrity? And that leaves critics with no choice: they must point out that the man inside the flight suit bears little resemblance to the official image.
There is, as far as I can tell, no positive evidence that Mr. Bush is a man of exceptional uprightness. When has he even accepted responsibility for something that went wrong? On the other hand, there is plenty of evidence that he is willing to cut corners when it's to his personal advantage. His business career was full of questionable deals, and whatever the full truth about his National Guard service, it was certainly not glorious.
Old history, you may say, and irrelevant to the present. And perhaps that would be true if Mr. Bush was prepared to come clean about his past. Instead, he remains evasive. On "Meet the Press" he promised to release all his records — and promptly broke that promise.
I don't know what he's hiding. But I do think he has forfeited any right to cite his character to turn away charges that his administration is lying about its policies. And that is the point: Mr. Bush may not be a particularly bad man, but he isn't the paragon his handlers portray.
Some of his critics hope that the AWOL issue will demolish the Bush myth, all at once. They're probably too optimistic — if it were that easy, the tale of Harken Energy would have already done the trick. The sad truth is that people who have been taken in by a cult of personality — a group that in this case includes a good fraction of the American people, and a considerably higher fraction of the punditocracy — are very reluctant to give up their illusions. If nothing else, that would mean admitting that they had been played for fools.
Still, we may be on our way to an election in which Mr. Bush is judged on his record, not his legend. And that, of course, is what the White House fears

How do you like this picture of the wit and intellegent man in the white house. Next can we expect to see our armed forces being forced to march with banners carrying George's picture. Similar to what is done in China?
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 13 Feb, 2004 01:40 pm
I loved that Op-Ed, au. I don't usually cut and paste articles/ Op-Eds, but thought of doing so with that one.

(Link, for anyone who's interested:)

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/02/13/opinion/13KRUG.html
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ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Fri 13 Feb, 2004 01:51 pm
The article McG posted accuses Kerry of "defaming the Vietnam war".

Isn't that something like defaming the Spanish Inquisition? or casting apersions on Malaria...

This is all they can come up with?

-------
That's "President Kerry" to you, McGentrix...
0 Replies
 
InfraBlue
 
  1  
Reply Fri 13 Feb, 2004 02:33 pm
The warmongers? Yeah.

It's like defaming the Spanish Inquisition to the Spanish inquisitors.
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hobitbob
 
  1  
Reply Fri 13 Feb, 2004 02:37 pm
Quote:
casting apersions on Malaria...

I love it! Laughing
0 Replies
 
Lightwizard
 
  1  
Reply Fri 13 Feb, 2004 02:40 pm
The Vietnam War cannot be defamed. It is noted for being infamous.
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au1929
 
  1  
Reply Fri 13 Feb, 2004 03:04 pm
The war is not what is important the fact that Kerry was a hero and Bush as usual showed, with all his bravado, was at best looking for an out and at worst a deserter.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Fri 13 Feb, 2004 04:37 pm
At the danger of repeating myself, McGentrix:

Why is it inappropriate for a certified war hero to criticize the Vietnam war? And if the American government deliberately fakes the case for a war it feels like fighting, then sends hundreds of thousands of people into it, how is "outlaw nation" an inaccurate term to describe this?

(Technical note for those who like to link to Paul Krugman columns: The originals on the NYT website become unfree after a week, but they are archived at his inofficial website, www.pkarchive.org. If you want your links to last, better link to the archive.)
0 Replies
 
McGentrix
 
  1  
Reply Fri 13 Feb, 2004 05:37 pm
It's the manner in which the criticism is performed (for immediate lack of a better term...). America is all about free speech, but to come home from a war and to turn around and call ones brothers in arms rapists, murderers, etc, turns my stomach. I am not the only one either. There is a time and a place for such demonstrations and doing so while others are still fighting that war is a disgusting act in my opinion. My father missed my birth because he was in Vietnam. But, because of protesters like Kerry, he was spit on when he came home. Because of protesters like Kerry he had to feel shamed for fighting for his country.

When Kerry symbolically threw his medals over the fence of the whitehouse, he symbolically threw his hero status with it.
0 Replies
 
hobitbob
 
  1  
Reply Fri 13 Feb, 2004 05:48 pm
Quote:
There is a time and a place for such demonstrations and doing so while others are still fighting that war is a disgusting act in my opinion.

This is the sentiment the administration would like to instill in us all. "No dissent while our brave boys are defending ther vaterland, instead save your dissent for when our great struggle is finished, and we stand victorious astride the broken bodies of our vanquished foe."
No thank you. The best time for dissent is when the atrocity (war) is occurring.
0 Replies
 
dyslexia
 
  1  
Reply Fri 13 Feb, 2004 05:49 pm
damn and double damn McGentrix, I am guilty of all the above aside from having been a war hero.(along with 1,000's of others) perhaps I should have my citizenship revoked. (firing squad be ok with you?)
0 Replies
 
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Fri 13 Feb, 2004 05:52 pm
McGentrix wrote:
... call ones brothers in arms rapists, murderers, etc, ...


Can you provide a link to where Kerry did this?
0 Replies
 
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Fri 13 Feb, 2004 05:54 pm
McGentrix wrote:
When Kerry symbolically threw his medals over the fence of the whitehouse, he symbolically threw his hero status with it.


That's funny. For many of us he gained his hero status at this exact point.
0 Replies
 
 

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