...I'm okay with being REALITY-based.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004
      ( 9:32 AM )
Setting the Record Straight - Again

As most of my readers well know, I have not been an enthusiastic supporter of John Kerry. I was Howard Dean all the way because I felt that not only did the country need a change, but so did the Democratic party. It felt like the party just went back to it same old Washington insider/centrist leaning past with Kerry. Of course, in comparison with George Bush, John Kerry looks like a vast improvement in leadership and composure. But in the last week I've been watching as Kerry begins to take on the attacks that have been freely flowing at him the last month, and I am starting to be pursuaded that he is going to be a formidable candidate.

I couldn't understand why the Bush camp would open up the can of worms about past military service by questioning Kerry and demanding his full disclosure of his military records. He has done so, including his medical records. Not satisfied that he truly did serve with honor and distinction, they questioned his purple hearts, saying that at least his first injury "wasn't that bad." The question of whether they realize that a purple heart is earned by anyone who is injured in combat didn't seem to phase them, considering that not one of the top leaders of this current administration has ever seen combat... and in fact did everything they could to avoid it.

Then they started this whole ruckus over Kerry's wording about his medals/ribbons. Anyone in the military or the kid of anyone in the military (like me) knows that these two words are interchangeable. Not only did Kerry not lie or shift his story or "flip flop" but he boldly told the truth: he came home from serving in a devastating war and wanted to do everything he could to stop that from happening to other young men - the throwing of the ribbons/medals was an act of spontaneity during an event that was unlike political events of today, where everything is choreographed and scripted. He not only volunteered and fought in the war, but when he came home he took a courageous and honorable stand.

The RNC made a huge deal out of Clinton going to Oxford during the war, calling him a "draft dodger" and worse. And yet they are shocked - shocked! - that Bush and Cheney's records could be questioned - even after they've attacked Kerry on his records. But the republicans want us to measure John Kerry's past by today's politics (and at the same time leave the president out of it):

In the heat of a political campaign, attacks come from all
directions. That's why John Kerry's military records are so
compelling; they measure the man before his critics or his
supporters saw him through a political lens. These military
records show that John Kerry served his country with
valor, and that those who served with him and above him
held him in high regard. That's honor enough for any veteran.

Yet the Republican attack machine follows a pattern
we've seen before, whether the target is Senator
John McCain in South Carolina in 2000 or Senator Max
Cleland in Georgia in 2002. The latest manifestation
of these tactics is the controversy over Mr. Kerry's medals


Republicans have tried to use this event to question
his patriotism and his truthfulness, claiming he has
been inconsistent in saying whether he threw away
his medals or ribbons. This is no more than a political
smear. After risking his life in Vietnam to save others,
John Kerry earned the right to speak out against a
war he believed was wrong. Make no mistake: it is
that bravery these Republicans are now attacking.

Although President Bush has not engaged personally
in such accusations, he has done nothing to stop
others from making them. I believe those who didn't
serve, or didn't show up for service, should have the
decency to respect those who did serve ? often
under the most dangerous conditions, with bravery
and, yes, with undeniable patriotism.

... that last word from the Supreme Commander himself, Wesley Clark.

I'm not so concerned about a war 30 years ago. I'm concerned about one going on right now. George Bush doesn't want us to see the coffins of the hundreds of dead coming home - yet he's willing to use a picture of a coffin of a fireman at 9/11 in a campaign ad. THAT'S the kind of character we should be questioning this election.

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