The Corner

Question For Brookhiser

Rick – I saw this item in the Kerry Spot (which was borrowed from the Hotline):

James Rappaport, who challenged Kerry in MA SEN: “He didn’t attack me for my positions as anti-tax and pro-growth and pro-growth. He attacked me primarily personally.” More Rappaport: “At one point he called me a chicken hawk because I was strong on defense but hadn’t served in Vietnam. He forgot that I was sixteen when the war ended.” (“Nightline,” ABC, 9/27).

Me: So here’s the question. I know that candidates didn’t personally brag about their war records in the past because A) it was — and is — unseemly and B) until recently almost everyone served, so it was largely taken as a given that you did your duty. But whenever anyone makes these points, they do it in the context of saying that Kerry brags about his record more than any presidential candidate of recent years. That begs the question, Was there ever a presidential candidate who personally — not through surrogates — boasted about his war record more than John Kerry? The only possible contender in the 20th century I can think of would be TR, but from the biographies I read I don’t recall that really being the case. Yeah, he loved war but I don’t remember him belittling others who couldn’t stand up to his personal record. As for the 19th century, I just don’t know enough. Andrew Jackson?

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