Politics & Policy

Same Old Kerry

Insulting the military, again.

John Kerry, the junior senator from Massachusetts apparently had a Vietnam flashback the other day when he said to some students in California: You know, education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq.

#ad#It’s not quite the same as telling the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that his “band of brothers” spent their time in Vietnam committing atrocities and war crimes, but the objective observer must conclude that what Kerry said constituted an insult to the uniformed military. Kerry’s response? Brazen it out.

If anyone thinks a veteran would criticize the more than 140,000 heroes serving in Iraq and not the president who got us stuck there, they’re crazy. This is the classic G.O.P. playbook. I’m sick and tired of these despicable Republican attacks that always seem to come from those who never can be found to serve in war, but love to attack those who did.

I’m not going to be lectured by a stuffed suit White House mouthpiece standing behind a podium, or doughy Rush Limbaugh, who no doubt today will take a break from belittling Michael J. Fox’s Parkinson’s disease to start lying about me just as they have lied about Iraq. It disgusts me that these Republican hacks, who have never worn the uniform of our country lie and distort so blatantly and carelessly about those who have.

The people who owe our troops an apology are George W. Bush and Dick Cheney who misled America into war and have given us a Katrina foreign policy that has betrayed our ideals, killed and maimed our soldiers, and widened the terrorist threat instead of defeating it. These Republicans are afraid to debate veterans who live and breathe the concerns of our troops, not the empty slogans of an Administration that sent our brave troops to war without body armor.

Bottom line, these Republicans want to debate straw men because they’re afraid to debate real men. And this time it won’t work because we’re going to stay in their face with the truth and deny them even a sliver of light for their distortions. No Democrat will be bullied by an administration that has a cut and run policy in Afghanistan and a stand still and lose strategy in Iraq.

What can we say about John Kerry? He’s caught red-handed insulting military folks and his response is Well, who are you going to believe? Me, or your lyin’ eyes?

I wonder what Jim Webb thinks about this. I know the depths of disdain he once felt for John Kerry in view of the latter’s slanders against his brother Vietnam veterans. During the 2004 campaign, Webb criticized Kerry for suggesting in his 1971 testimony that the “ugly extreme” in Vietnam — war crimes and atrocities by American fighting men — constituted the norm.

Webb pointed out time and again that Kerry’s 1971 testimony, which includes every left-wing cliché about Vietnam and the men who served there, helped to make life difficult for Vietnam veterans, most of whom served with honor. Kerry’s testimony is part of the reason that even today, people who are too young to remember Vietnam are predisposed to believe the worst about the Vietnam War and those who fought it.

In his run for the Senate, Webb accepted the endorsement of the man he considered to be the enemy in the culture war for the soul of America and whose hand he refused to shake for 20 years.  Well, as the saying goes, politics makes for strange bedfellows.

But it seems to me that Kerry’s mask slipped the other day, revealing his true feelings about the military, whose members he apparently still views with the same condescension as he did his own generation of soldiers. Webb would have every right to take Kerry’s silly comments personally, since he has a son who is a Marine in Iraq. I wonder what he thinks of Kerry’s endorsement now.

Mackubin Thomas Owens is an NRO contributing editor and a professor of strategy and force planning at the Naval War College in Newport, R.I. He led a Marine infantry platoon in Vietnam in 1968-1969. 

Mackubin Thomas Owens — Mr. Owens is the editor of Orbis and the author of U.S. Civil–Military Relations after 9/11: Renegotiating the Civil–Military Bargain.

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