Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Nick Gillespie from Reason’s Hit and Run blog has an interesting post about the hullaballoo surrounding John Kerry’s military service and he finishes with this statement:

You’ve got to hand it to the Democrats. They enter a presidential race against a guy who clearly worked to evade active service in Vietnam and manage to nominate a multiply decorated vet whose service record somehow becomes the focus of attention. Yes, there is an orchestrated attempt by the GOP to throw questions onto Kerry (a process he’s abetted with his changing Cambodian story, among other things). But if anybody is wondering why the Dems are on the threshold of becoming a permananent minority party, this latest screwup is one indication of incompetence that used to be a Republican hallmark.

Talk about nails and heads. Bush is the most vulnerable incumbent president since Jimmy Carter. His track record is pretty much abysmal on every count. But Kerry and the Democrats can’t seem to gain any sort of advantage over him at all. Why? Because they’re absolutely horrible at playing the political game, while the Republicans are masters at it. How on earth does a transparently ridiculous campaign trick like this Swift Boat Vets nonsense actually work? Well, primarily because Kerry has handed it to them on a silver platter and because the Democrats have rolled over and played dead for the shallow quasi-patriotic song and dance of the Republicans.

So successful have the Republicans been in the last 25 years at defining the public debate, in painting themselves as the sole and exclusive vessel of true patriotism in America, that the Democrats can’t even take over occupation of that turf with a Silver Star winner running against a spoiled rich kid whose dad pulled strings to get his butt out of a war he supported. This is somewhat akin to not being able to beat Gary Coleman one on one in basketball, or not being able to beat Keanu Reeves in chess – if you can’t win this one, it’s time to slink away in shame and possibly commit ritual self-disembowlment.

Comments

  1. #1 ~DS~
    August 23, 2004

    Don’t be too quick to judge my friend. This isn’t over by a long shot.

  2. #2 eon
    August 24, 2004

    Ed:

    The campaign adds in question speak to a deeper and more pernicious issue, which is the basic credulity of the American public. If people aren’t immediately skeptical about the intentions of the comic book contrivance in the name “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” (or “Axis of Evil” and “No Child Left Behind” that came before), we have little hope that the electorate will get past the superficial politics of personality and into a critical analysis of policy.

    Mendacity is difficult to counter with rhetorical effect, as you’ve undoubtedly seen with fiskings that end up being longer than the argument fisked. That’s especially true in politics, where the consumers of mass media give no thought to allowing the “fair and balanced” reporting to shift the burden of persuasion to the accused immediately upon the the making of the accusation. By the time the evidence is assembled to counter the attack, Joe Public’s attention span is already spent.

    In American politics, “truth” is established in such ways.

    E

  3. #3 Ed Brayton
    August 24, 2004

    I think you make an important point, eon. There are those, like Umberto Eco, who argue that the slide into fascism is preceeded by the debasement of the language, by “an impoverished vocabulary, and an elementary syntax to limit the instruments for complex and critical reasoning.” Our political discourse is more and more dominated by euphemism, which is always an attempt to cover up something. A law which diminishes the protections against government surveillance becomes the “USA PATRIOT Act”; cities full of dead people become “collateral damage in the theater of operations”; chemical and biological weapons becomes “Weapons of Mass Destruction” which later becomes “Weaspons of mass destruction related program activities” (if that phrase had not actually been uttered by the President, no one would believe you if you made it up).

    And it doesn’t stop there. In 2000 and in 2004, we have Al Gore, George W. Bush, and John Kerry – three quintessential establishment insiders, two of them the third generation scions of our most wealthy and powerful political families – posing as reformers, engaging in what Lewis Lapham calls the “ritual denunciation of Washington”. And there are huge numbers of people who actually believe them as these sons of privilege try to out-Bubba one another. Bush supporters laughed and pointed in derision when Kerry and Edwards got caught posing as regular folks eating dinner at Wendy’s when they had a fancy catered dinner on the campaign bus waiting for them, but they’ve swallowed the Bush the Cowboy pose, on his ranch that has everything but plastic cows in the field, hook line and sinker. It’s hilarious at the same time it’s depressing.

  4. #4 Jon W
    August 24, 2004

    Re: ” Silver Star winner running against a spoiled rich kid whose dad pulled strings to get his butt out of a war he supported.”

    Uh, Ed?

    There’s still considerable doubt about what Kerry did to earn his Silver Star — frankly, having practically grown up reading WW2 combat journals, what he did that day doesn’t sound like Silver Star material to me.

    There’s also considerably more to GW Bush’s military service than “a spoiled rich kid whose dad pulled strings to get him out of the war.” A few days ago I ran across this very interesting link:

    http://www.aerospaceweb.org/question/history/q0185.shtml

    Unfortunately the page is no longer active — maybe their server got overwhelmed after being linked from a couple of major blogs — but a cached version is still available from Google. It contains this passage:

    “Even in peacetime conditions, F-102 pilots risked their lives on every flight. Only highly-qualified pilot candidates were accepted for Delta Dagger training because it was such a challenging aircraft to fly and left little room for mistakes. According to the Air Force Safety Center, the lifetime Class A accident rate for the F-102 was 13.69 mishaps per 100,000 flight hours, much higher than the average for today’s combat aircraft. For example, the F-16 has an accident rate of 4.14, the F-15 is at 2.47, the F-117 at 4.07, the S-3 at 2.6, and the F-18 at 4.9. Even the Marine Corps’ AV-8B, regarded as the most dangerous aircraft in US service today, has a lifetime accident rate of only 11.44 mishaps per 100,000 flight hours. The F-102 claimed the lives of many pilots, including a number stationed at Ellington during Bush’s tenure. Of the 875 F-102A production models that entered service, 259 were lost in accidents that killed 70 Air Force and ANG pilots.”

    In short, Bush wound up flying an airplane so touchy that operational accidents destroyed one of every four planes produced! Air Force records show at least one fatal accident involving an F-102 for every year that Bush was in the ANG, even after it was slated for replacement and the numbers in service were being steadily reduced. If indeed he and his father were trying to keep him away from dangerous assignments, it appears they did a strikingly poor job of it. Even if you believe Bush is that stupid, no one has ever accused his father of being such.

    — JSW

  5. #5 Ed Brayton
    August 25, 2004

    There’s still considerable doubt about what Kerry did to earn his Silver Star — frankly, having practically grown up reading WW2 combat journals, what he did that day doesn’t sound like Silver Star material to me.

    Well, the two Silver Star citations are available on factcheck.org, as well as the Bronze Star citation and the Bronze Star citation for Thurlow as well. There is also the document recommending both Kerry and Thurlow for the Bronze Star, a document prepared and signed by George Elliott, their CO and also a member of the Swift Boat Vets group. This is why I made the statement about false and unsupported statements that you objected to in email to me last evening. Their story just does not hold up. Thurlow claims there was no enemy fire the day that Kerry rescued Rassman from the water, yet everyone else who was there says there was, the bronze star citations for both Kerry and Thurlow say there was, and even their CO, who is also a member of the anti-Kerry group, signed a recommendation for the Bronze Star saying there was. Did Thurlow accept a Bronze Star under false pretenses only to suddenly decide the commendation was false 35 years later? This strains credulity well beyond the limit, I think.

    Regardless of all those details, the absolute most that you can do is try to minimize Kerry’s war achievements and maximize the alleged danger that Bush faced. But none of that changes one basic fact – Kerry went to Vietnam to fight and Bush pulled strings to avoid that. And more than that, Kerry went to fight in a war he opposed and Bush refused to fight in a war his family (and presumably he as well) supported.

    Now, I have absolutely no doubt that Kerry is exaggerating his war record and being every bit as disingenuous with his “send me” and “reporting for duty” crap (which frankly just about nauseates me). He volunteered for swift boat duty thinking it was safe, then they sent them up the rivers and it turned out not to be so safe. But he was there, and he put his life on the line and was highly decorated for what he did while he was there. And it’s going to take more than “it doesn’t sound like he did anything special to me and I’ve read WW2 books” to diminish that.

    Frankly, I’d have a lot more respect for Kerry if he ran not on his war record, but on his war protest record. But he can’t do that, because Americans have a ridiculously shallow notion of patriotism. He showed far more patriotism by standing up to try and stop the war than he did by going to fight it.

    In short, Bush wound up flying an airplane so touchy that operational accidents destroyed one of every four planes produced! Air Force records show at least one fatal accident involving an F-102 for every year that Bush was in the ANG, even after it was slated for replacement and the numbers in service were being steadily reduced. If indeed he and his father were trying to keep him away from dangerous assignments, it appears they did a strikingly poor job of it. Even if you believe Bush is that stupid, no one has ever accused his father of being such.

    Oi vey. Jon, you’re much too smart to be making such a weak argument. Bush flew a plane that had accidents that killed, what, 3 or 4 pilots in the time he was in the guard? Half a dozen at most? You want to compare that in terms of danger and risk to fighting in Vietnam? Do you really doubt that Bush Sr. pulled strings to get him into the air guard so he didn’t have to go to Vietnam? Or are you going to claim instead that he pulled strings to get him into this “incredibly dangerous” duty of flying a plane that had no chance of seeing battle? As I said, all you can do here is try to make Bush’s duty sound a lot more dangerous than it was, and try to minimize the danger that Kerry faced, but the bottom line, regardless of the obvious fact that Kerry has exaggerated his achievements, is that Kerry went to Vietnam and faced serious danger and Bush pulled strings to avoid it and faced virtually none. To compare the danger of flying a plane that had 13 accidents per 100,000 flight hours to fighting in Vietnam, where 1 in every 10 or 15 soldiers came back in bodybags and three or four times as many came back with serious wounds, is just silliness.

  6. #6 Jon Woolf
    August 25, 2004

    Ed,

    Sorry, I don’t agree. As far as Thurlow’s Bronze Star goes, I dismiss it as “undecidable” because it’s almost certainly based on Kerry’s after-action report. If that report was inflated or otherwise tainted, then so is anything based on it, including the medal recommendations and citations. That was the point of my email: the official records are not trustworthy because Kerry had a hand in writing them and I believe Kerry had a vested interest in making himself look better than he actually was. Thus, you can say the Swiftboat Vets’ charges are “unsupported” or “unproven,” but not that they’re definitely false.

    Now, on the subject of Kerry’s service record vs Bush’s: Way back during the 2000 campaign, I posted a message in the CIS Religion Forum to the effect that people should look at the pattern of Bush’s actual record, not what other people say about his record, and be very suspicious of anything that didn’t fit that pattern. I’m still applying the same principle today, and here’s what it tells me:

    Kerry was against the war before he enlisted. He volunteered for the Navy as a shipboard officer, which meant he’d have an easier time than an enlisted, and could also serve without getting shot at. He didn’t like life aboard a DDG so he thought he’d try Swiftboat duty. Once there, he unexpectedly found himself in a combat position. The controversy over his Purple Hearts suggests that he gamed the system as fast as he could to get out as soon as possible, and in the meantime he did everything he could to build an image of himself as a brave and daring warrior. (I trust you’ve heard of his antics with the 8mm movie camera?) After he got out and came home, he traded on his medals and his “combat experience” to increase his political influence. He showed no loyalty to his men or his uniform.

    Questionable “battle wounds;” questionable after-action reports; inflating his combat experiences after the fact — they all add up to a very clear pattern. Kerry volunteered for what he thought would be easy-but-impressive duty, got into combat only by accident, and worked to get out again as fast as he could. He was also a cynic who saw his duty and the men around him as nothing more than tools, to be used to further his political ambitions. That he “put his life on the line” was chance, not choice. He swore the oath and wore the uniform, and he did see combat; I’ll give him credit for that, but nothing more. And the fact that he was obviously already thinking about how to parlay his service in a war he opposed into a political career takes him down several notches in my estimation.

    Now for Bush’s service record: Bush is the son of a decorated WW2 Navy pilot, a legitimate war hero. He volunteered for the F-102 at a time when F-102 pilots from the Texas ANG were serving in combat in Vietnam under a program called “Palace Alert.” He learned to fly an airplane that was difficult at best and killed or injured a disturbing number of its pilots, so he was choosing to put his life on the line every time he left the ground. His records say he was an above-average pilot in that difficult and dangerous fighter. He even tried to get into the “Palace Alert” program, but by that time it was being phased out. At exactly the time it became clear Bush couldn’t get a combat slot, he very obviously lost all interest in the military and looked for the fastest way back to civilian life. Yet even today, thirty years later, he still keeps the faith with the men he served with and the men who wear the uniform now. That’s his pattern, and it doesn’t look to me like someone who would cynically game the system to avoid service or avoid dangerous duty. If anything it looks like the exact opposite: he respects and admires the military, he joined up to imitate his father and fly in combat, and then he quit in frustration when he realized he couldn’t do that.

    — JSW

  7. #7 Ed Brayton
    August 25, 2004

    As far as Thurlow’s Bronze Star goes, I dismiss it as “undecidable” because it’s almost certainly based on Kerry’s after-action report. If that report was inflated or otherwise tainted, then so is anything based on it, including the medal recommendations and citations. That was the point of my email: the official records are not trustworthy because Kerry had a hand in writing them and I believe Kerry had a vested interest in making himself look better than he actually was. Thus, you can say the Swiftboat Vets’ charges are “unsupported” or “unproven,” but not that they’re definitely false.

    Jon, there is no evidence that Kerry wrote his own bronze star recommendation, there is only the ad hoc rationalization that “if” he had, that might mean something. His CO, who is against him, signed the recommendation. We also have the testimony of Rassman, the man he pulled from the water and a lifelong Republican, that there were bullets flying at them at the time he was pulled out of the water. The only one who says otherwise is Thurlow, and all of the other evidence is against him, including his OWN bronze star citation, which he accepted and has never renounced as false. This isn’t a close call. Pretty much all the evidence is on one side here, and it’s up against only the claims of one man who, if he’s now telling the truth, accepted a bronze star on false pretenses 35 years ago. The weight of the evidence here is clearly on Kerry’s side and the other side has no documentary support whatsoever. And in fact, at least one person on the other side is against the person making the accusation because he was the one who recommended him for the citation in the first place.

    Kerry was against the war before he enlisted. He volunteered for the Navy as a shipboard officer, which meant he’d have an easier time than an enlisted, and could also serve without getting shot at. He didn’t like life aboard a DDG so he thought he’d try Swiftboat duty. Once there, he unexpectedly found himself in a combat position. The controversy over his Purple Hearts suggests that he gamed the system as fast as he could to get out as soon as possible, and in the meantime he did everything he could to build an image of himself as a brave and daring warrior. (I trust you’ve heard of his antics with the 8mm movie camera?) After he got out and came home, he traded on his medals and his “combat experience” to increase his political influence. He showed no loyalty to his men or his uniform.

    Questionable “battle wounds;” questionable after-action reports; inflating his combat experiences after the fact — they all add up to a very clear pattern. Kerry volunteered for what he thought would be easy-but-impressive duty, got into combat only by accident, and worked to get out again as fast as he could. He was also a cynic who saw his duty and the men around him as nothing more than tools, to be used to further his political ambitions. That he “put his life on the line” was chance, not choice. He swore the oath and wore the uniform, and he did see combat; I’ll give him credit for that, but nothing more. And the fact that he was obviously already thinking about how to parlay his service in a war he opposed into a political career takes him down several notches in my estimation.

    All of which I basically agree with. I agree that his motivation was to get in and out as quickly as possible and to use it for political purposes. But that he was motivated by that does not mean that every single accusation that those who oppose him politically want to make is therefore true, nor does it make the motivation of his accusers pure. They are as obviously politically motivated as he is and their claims should be treated with the same skepticism. And since I’m not voting for either of them, I am free to be equally skeptical and examine the claims of both sides without feeling any need to spin things for “my guy”.

    Now for Bush’s service record: Bush is the son of a decorated WW2 Navy pilot, a legitimate war hero.

    Which is totally irrelevant. George HW Bush has a distinguished military record. That has precisely nothing to do with George W Bush’s military record.

    He volunteered for the F-102 at a time when F-102 pilots from the Texas ANG were serving in combat in Vietnam under a program called “Palace Alert.” He learned to fly an airplane that was difficult at best and killed or injured a disturbing number of its pilots, so he was choosing to put his life on the line every time he left the ground. His records say he was an above-average pilot in that difficult and dangerous fighter. He even tried to get into the “Palace Alert” program, but by that time it was being phased out. At exactly the time it became clear Bush couldn’t get a combat slot, he very obviously lost all interest in the military and looked for the fastest way back to civilian life.

    Oi vey. Jon, if you really think that Bush was so focused on getting a combat slot and was so disappointed when he couldn’t that he then lost interest in the military….wow That’s just fantasy land. I don’t even have words to describe how patently ridiculous that is. If he wanted into combat, why didn’t he volunteer for combat duty? Why didn’t he just join the active military rather than the air guard?

    Ben Barnes, the Lt. Governor of Texas at the time, has testified under oath that he recommended Bush for a slot in the air guard at the request of a Bush family friend, Sid Alger. This was at a time when there were tens of thousands of men on waiting lists to get into the guards because they rarely were called up to go to Vietnam. If he was fired up for combat duty, he could have gotten combat duty and he certainly wouldn’t have gone to the trouble of pulling strings to get into a unit that was far less likely to see duty, when he could simply have joined a combat unit. This is silliness.

    Yet even today, thirty years later, he still keeps the faith with the men he served with and the men who wear the uniform now. That’s his pattern, and it doesn’t look to me like someone who would cynically game the system to avoid service or avoid dangerous duty. If anything it looks like the exact opposite: he respects and admires the military, he joined up to imitate his father and fly in combat, and then he quit in frustration when he realized he couldn’t do that.

    I’ve never known you to be naive before, Jon, but this is stunning. How exactly has he “kept the faith” with veterans? With rhetoric about how great veterans are? What politician doesn’t use such rhetoric? Was he “keeping the faith” with veterans when Rove undermined John McCain in South Carolina with a repulsive push polling and gossip campaign? Was he “keeping the faith” with vets when he broke his campaign promise to restore free health care to WW2 and Korean War vets that were repealed in 1995? Was he “keeping the faith” with vets when he sent our troops into war without adequate body armor or hardened vehicles? I don’t wanna hear about the patriotism of a party that does what they did to Max Cleland and John McCain. They don’t give a shit about vets except as a political tool to put on a good show of their patriotic fervor. They will trash any vet that stands in the way of their political power (and so will the Democrats, I am fully aware) and they will do so with glee.

    I’m not buying the dog and pony show. Don’t talk to me about how patriotic you are when you’re trashing people who exercise their right to protest and keeping them under surveillance, when you’re shredding the constitution by claiming the right to imprison American citizens indefinitely and incommunicado, without filing charges or giving them their day in court. Don’t talk to me about patriotism when you’re destroying decorated vets and calling them unpatriotic because you want their seat in Congress and when you’re trying to make old people in a southern state afraid of them by a whispering campaign that they fathered a biracial child so you can gain a few electoral votes.

  8. #8 Jon W
    August 25, 2004

    Ed, slow down a minute. You’re so busy answering things I didn’t say that you’re missing some of the things I did say.

    {there is no evidence that Kerry wrote his own bronze star recommendation}

    I didn’t say he did. I said the Bronze Star recommendation, and any other medal recommendations that stemmed from the same action, are suspect if they are based on what Kerry did write: his after-action report. Thurlow has said that he didn’t expect any medal for that action, and didn’t even know he’d been recommended for one until it was awarded months later. And yesterday Kerry’s campaign finally admitted that his first Purple Heart was most likely based on a friendly-fire injury, and there’s a strong indication that he knew it at the time. Which means his request for that first Purple Heart was falsified. If he filed one phony report, why not two? Or more?

    Rassman’s testimony is also “undecidable” simply because there are other eyewitnesses who contradict it. I don’t know whose memories to trust, therefore I can’t trust any of them. That goes for both Kerry’s opponents and Kerry’s defenders.

    [Which is totally irrelevant. George HW Bush has a distinguished military record. That has precisely nothing to do with George W Bush’s military record.]

    But it’s very relevant to the kind of person G.W. Bush is, and therefore to how he would have approached the issue of military service. Do you really think that GHW Bush is the kind of man who would have let his son run for cover when it came his turn to serve? I don’t.

    As for the rest of it: you disagree with my evaluation of GW Bush. OK, that’s your right. And I agree that much of it sounds rather silly and makes little rational sense when viewed in hindsight. On the other hand, it does a better job of explaining the facts than does the theory that he was a rat looking for a bolthole to avoid combat. If he wanted a safe assignment, why did he volunteer for aircrew in a single-seat fighter? If he was trying to avoid combat, why did he try to sign up for Palace Alert? If he was trying to avoid combat, then why is it that the point in time when he found that he would certainly not get into combat coincides exactly with a drastic shift in his attitude toward his military service? If you want to convince me that your interpretation is correct and mine is wrong, you’ll have to offer believable answers to those questions — answers based, as I said, solely on what he did, not on assumptions about what he “meant” by what he did, or by what others have done in his name, or by what third parties have told you he did. In other words, can you do the same thing in analyzing Bush and the charges against him that you do when analyzing evolution and creationist charges against it: dig past all the back-and-forth quote-mining, selective citations, specious devices, and logical fallacies, and build your arguments and analyses based only on hard, proven, verifiable facts?

    I’d like to believe you can, but so far it doesn’t look like it. I’m honestly at a loss to understand how you can see Kerry so clearly for the power-grasping cynic that he was and is, and yet ascribe motives and desires to Bush that simply don’t match what he’s actually done.

    — JSW

  9. #9 Adam Marczyk
    August 25, 2004

    JSW:

    “I said the Bronze Star recommendation, and any other medal recommendations that stemmed from the same action, are suspect if they are based on what Kerry did write: his after-action report.”

    In the first place, this is a huge “if”. You have shown no evidence whatsoever in support of this possibility. As Ed said, all the available documentary evidence, as well as testimonies from numerous veterans who were present that day both on Kerry’s boat and on other boats supports the conclusion that Kerry came by his Bronze Star deservedly and through the correct channels. And the only thing you have to put against this is the supposition, with no proof, that maybe the award was based on something Kerry himself wrote? Your entire argument is based on groundless speculation.

    Let us not forget, Larry Thurlow, who is now a member of the Republican veterans group, was also awarded a Bronze Star that same day. The medal recommendation form for Thurlow’s Bronze Star makes reference to enemy small-arms fire, and according to the Washington Post (see here), Thurlow’s leading petty officer, Robert Lambert, wrote that form. A report on battle damage to Thurlow’s boat mentions bullet holes.

    It just amazes me that anyone is still willing to grant the members of this group any credibility whatsoever after repeated discovery of facts like this. Let’s not forget Louis Letson’s apparent lie about treating Kerry for an injury that resulted in one of his Purple Hearts, even though another Army medic, not Letson, signed the treatment form for that wound. Let’s not forget that George Elliott highly praised Kerry’s courage, valor and leadership both in 1969 and again in 1996, and that Adrian Lonsdale did the same in 1996. Let’s not forget how Roy Hoffmann’s statements about how well he knew Kerry have changed dramatically over time. Let’s not forget how the Swift Boat group erroneously listed two veterans, Rich McCann and Rich Baker, as “neutral” toward Kerry, apparently without asking them what their true feelings were, when in fact they supported him all along. The Swift Boat vets group ignored their requests for correction for two weeks, until news media finally began asking them about it. (See also this link.)

    “If [Bush] wanted a safe assignment, why did he volunteer for aircrew in a single-seat fighter? If he was trying to avoid combat, why did he try to sign up for Palace Alert?”

    When Bush applied, he checked the box on a form to specifically indicate that he did not volunteer for overseas combat duty. That alone, I think, should blow all these ridiculous claims about Bush’s eagerness to serve out of the water. And how, exactly, do you explain Bush’s missing a physical that included a drug test, and being suspended from flying as a result? And let’s not even get into Cheney’s five deferments.

    “He volunteered for the Navy as a shipboard officer, which meant he’d have an easier time than an enlisted, and could also serve without getting shot at. He didn’t like life aboard a DDG so he thought he’d try Swiftboat duty.”

    Yes, he volunteered – twice. Those are the plain facts, and given that you have just condemned “assumptions about what he ‘meant’ by what he did”, where do you get the nerve to state so confidently what the motivations of another man were? And all this is in comparison, as I’ve said, to someone who had his father pull strings to get him into the National Guard, specifically indicated he did not volunteer for overseas duty, disappeared from his assigned unit, and was suspended when he missed a drug test.

    “The controversy over his Purple Hearts suggests that he gamed the system…”

    No, the controversy suggests that some conservatives will stoop to anything, including smearing a decorated war veteran, to hang on to power. Allow me to point out that even if the wound that led to Kerry’s first Purple Heart was caused by friendly fire, he was still eligible for a Purple Heart. The conditions for receiving that medal are only that a soldier be wounded in combat, regardless of the cause or severity of the wound. Bob Dole got one for an injury that he admits was both minor and self-inflicted. See here. It is just plain wrong to say that this “falsifies” the award.

    “He showed no loyalty to his men or his uniform.”

    I suppose that’s why all those men who served on his boat took the stage with him at the Democratic National Convention, right?

  10. #10 Jeff Rubinoff
    August 26, 2004

    This argument between Jon and Ed does make me think of something, though:

    Is it possible that W’s family was trying to keep him out of combat service but that, once in the Guard, W himself decided that he wanted to do his patriotic duty after all. Wouldn’t be the first time.

  11. #11 Ed Brayton
    August 26, 2004

    I think I’m just going to let Jon and Adam battle this one to the death….or until a creationist comes along and unites us all. :)

  12. #12 Jon W
    August 26, 2004

    Nah, I think I’ll pass. :-) Just one last point, more in answer to Ed than to Adam, since Adam’s choice of words makes me think “discussing” anything with him would be a waste of time…

    Ed, you asked what GWB had done for veterans and active duty soldiers (and sailors, airmen, and marines). I could cite things like his increases in funding for veterans’ programs, but instead I’ll take a different tack: what Bush has done for veterans and active-duty soldiers (sailors, airmen, marines) is make them feel like they matter again. The press has been so eager to find fault with Bush’s military-related escapades like the carrier trap and the Thanksgiving Iraq trip that they’ve completely missed the clues as to what Bush really intended. Those trips weren’t meant as political grandstanding. They weren’t meant for civilians at all. They were directed only at the troops. They were, in essence, the most unusual USO act in known history. No more, no less. Think about that: he’s the President, and he’s spending his precious time and energy on USO operations. How could they (or you, or anyone) see that as anything but a gesture of profound respect and admiration? How could they not respond positively?

    Then there’s the fact that he just plain enjoys being around servicemen and -women. If you watched the coverage of Bush on the Abraham Lincoln, you’ll know what I mean. He’s more relaxed around a military audience. His body language is more natural. He speaks better, with fewer verbal stumbles. He lets his real feelings show more. It’s obvious to my eyes that he feels like he belongs there. And the soldiers (&c.) respond to that with enthusiasm. They matter to him, and so he matters to them.

    Jeff, your comment interests me; it’s something I hadn’t thought of before. Based on his reaction to military audiences, I’ve wondered whether perhaps his service in the TANG was the first time in his life that anyone paid much attention to who he was and what he could do as an individual, and not just as “one of the Bush Family.” It would certainly explain why he reacts the way he does to military audiences — he feels more welcome among servicemen and -women than almost anywhere else. For him to be given an easy assignment and try to make it something more challenging would be in keeping with that picture.

    — JSW

  13. #13 Adam Marczyk
    August 29, 2004

    Somehow I’m not surprised that Jon W. apparently no longer wishes to discuss which candidate’s service was more valorious.

    Incidentally, since Bush cares about the troops so much, tell us, Jon: How many funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq has he attended?

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