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Not a Draft, But Hot Air
The Democrats have a scare tactic. Another one.


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Jim Geraghty

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article appears in the October 25, 2004, issue of National Review.

In the Democrats’ long history of dishonest vote-grubbing, their recent perpetuation of rumors that President Bush will bring back the military draft is not the most shameless — but it might make the top ten.

The last American to be drafted into the military reported to boot camp in 1973, the year the U.S. pulled out of Vietnam and President Nixon abolished the draft. Since then, no elected official or Pentagon policymaker has seriously suggested its restoration. Legislation to restore the draft has been introduced in Congress, by Rep. Charles Rangel of New York and Sen. Ernest Hollings of South Carolina, both liberal Democrats. These lawmakers have been refreshingly honest in admitting that their action aims to undermine public support for the war in Iraq, and to build support for the withdrawal of U.S. troops. And yet: The Democratic party’s leaders have been screaming from the rooftops to gullible teenagers and their parents that President Bush is going to abduct America’s children for use as cannon fodder.

It will come as no surprise to those familiar with John Kerry that he is of two minds on the subject. In a December 2003 speech, he said: “If we had a need for a general mobilization in the future, then I think that’s the only fair way to do it, but I don’t think we have that need for a general mobilization at this point.” By September 22, Kerry had changed his position, asserting that he would never bring back the draft, but that it was a possibility under Bush: “If George Bush were to be reelected, given the way he has gone about this war, and given his avoidance of responsibility in North Korea and Iran and other places, it is possible — I can’t tell you. I will tell you this: I will not reinstate the draft.”

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