Steve and Jen bring you this daily review of the news
Premium Advertiser

News Blog Sponsors

News Links

BBC World Service
The Guardian
Washington Post
Iraq Order of Battle
NY Times
LA Times
ABC News

Blogs We Like

Daily Kos
Digby's Blog
Operation Yellow Elephant
Iraq Casualty Count
Media Matters
Talking Points
Defense Tech
Intel Dump
Soldiers for the Truth
Margaret Cho
Juan Cole
Just a Bump in the Beltway
Baghdad Burning
Howard Stern
Michael Moore
James Wolcott
Cooking for Engineers
There is No Crisis
Whiskey Bar
Rude Pundit
Crooks and Liars
Amazin' Avenue
DC Media Girl
The Server Logs

Blogger Credits

Powered by Blogger

Archives by
Publication Date
August 2003
September 2003
October 2003
November 2003
December 2003
January 2004
February 2004
March 2004
April 2004
May 2004
June 2004
July 2004
August 2004
September 2004
October 2004
November 2004
December 2004
January 2005
February 2005
March 2005
April 2005
May 2005
June 2005
July 2005
August 2005
September 2005
October 2005
November 2005
December 2005
January 2006
February 2006
March 2006
April 2006
May 2006
June 2006
July 2006
August 2006
September 2006
October 2006
November 2006
December 2006
January 2007
February 2007
Comments Credits
Comments by YACCS
Tuesday, April 27, 2004

It was an ugly time

It was an ugly time

On the Daily Show yesterday, Bob Kerrey said he had left off his Naval service on his first resume. This from a Medal of Honor winner, one of three SEAL's to win the medal in Vietnam.

While Bush dregdes up Vietnam to discrete John Kerry, he forgets exactly how ugly a time it was.

I first became familiar with John Kerry in the mid-1980's, when I read the Winter Soldier hearings transcripts. They were bound, like all hearing transcripts, and lots of soliders were angry about their service in Vietnam. People forget the insane tension which had existed in the US during 1970-71.

Vets were caught in the middle between anti-war protestors, who had only recently gained steam, and the working class who'd fought in WWII and Korea. Construction workers attacked an anti-war protest in downtown Manhattan, while the White House chortled. Domestic enemies of Nixon faced the Huston plan, a full-scale violation of their rights. Only J. Edgar Hoover's common sense prevented the White House from making the Plumbers illegal break-ins state policy.

The US Army was collapsing, drug use exploding, combat refusals rife, fragging (the murder of officers and senior NCO's) common. People have forgotten how divided the US was. Veterans were routinely attacked on college campuses. Wearing a fatgue jacket with a unit patch was asking to be called baby killer.

And while stories of vets being spit on at airports were probably fictional, the open hostility they faced was not. Admitting service in Vietnam was an easy way to be scorned by both pro-war supporters and anti-war activists. The reason Vets now seem so self-protective and cloistered is that they only had each other to turn to.

The Nixon Administration was full of big talk, but their VA hospitals were rundown and as Bob Kerry found out, filled with rats, as one ran over his chest.

John Kerry joined the anti-war movement older and probably angrier than a lot of his peers. He knew the folly that he saw was wrong. So, yes, like a lot of angry young men, especially those who had been betrayed by both their government and their peers, said things which didn't sound great. But the cold hard fact was there were atrocities in Vietnam, as there are in every war. The Toledo Blade just won a Pulitzer for uncovering the activities of Tiger Force, a unit of the 101st which killed over a hundred innocent Vietnamese.

The vets who are so indignant about Kerry's public statements in 1971 are for the most part lying or didn't see enough combat to know people at war kill civilians as well as the enemy.

For Bush to drag this all up, especially behind the skirts of Karen Hughes, is insane. Bush not only supported the war, he avoided service in it, and thus benefitted from being a part-time soldier, which advanced his career, such that it was.

What people forget is that despite the success of John Kerry, Vietnam was like a giant weight on people's lives long after the war was over. To say the words "Vietnam Vet" was to create a stigma which lasted well into the 1980's. All those who didn't serve, the Clinton's, the Cheney's, they had their careers enahanced while those who did either downplayed their service or faced roadblocks. Bob Kerry didn't hide his military service for no reason. Employers simply did not hire Vets. They didn't and they never said why. My father worked with Vietnam Vets and they had a brutal time in the 70's and 80's.

Most people didn't go to Canada or lie to avoid the draft. Going to Canada was a lifetime decision. You couldn't expect to come back. Meanwhile over 30,000 Canadians served in Vietnam. So the idea that they wanted draft dodgers, deserters and draft avoiders has been overblown in popular legend. More than a few men with short haircuts were turned over to the FBI by the Mounties. While going into exile was a brave decision, so was facing the draft.

Bush made his decision, one that many people tried to make, which was to avoid service in Vietnam. The problem with what Bush did, as opposed to Clinton was that he supported the war. Now he's trying to denigrate Kerry's service, which should engrage people. Kerry didn't take the easy way out. He didn't avoid combat, and he could have, having served a tour off Vietnam on a destroyer. Instead, in a span of five months, he won three Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star and a Silver Star, a remarkable record for a junior officer. There is absolutely no question about his service or his personal bravery.

John Kerry did what George Bush never had the guts to do, which is face the Vietcong. Bush wanted the aura of military service and risk, without the actual risk of death. Now flying a jet is risky, but Bush couldn't even do that. At least a year of his service was missing from his record. They don't even know he showed up and they don't know why he was booted from flight status.

George Bush could have gotten his daddy to send him into an F-4 Squadron in Thailand, but he didn't. He wanted to emulate daddy without daddy's balls. He refused to fight in a war he supported. For God's sake, he could have been a supply officer at Udon, Thailand, stayed drunk and still served his country. Daddy fought the Japanese and was shot down. Bush wanted to be a pilot without the risk. A lifetime of personal cowardice which continues today.

posted by Steve @ 10:48:00 AM

10:48:00 AM

The News Blog home page


Editorial Staff

Add to My AOL

Support The News Blog

Amazon Honor System Click Here to Pay Learn More
News Blog Food Blog
Visit the News Blog Food Blog
The News Blog Shops
Operation Yellow Elephant
Enlist, Young Republicans