You Think You’re Tired Of Hearing About Vietnam Now — Just Wait

As I was perusing Citizen Smash’s fine blog, I ran across a post entitled “Let’s Talk About Real Issues”. In that post, Smash takes note of all the charges and countercharges flying back and forth about what Kerry did after Vietnam and Bush’s service in the National Guard and writes,

“CAN WE GET BACK to the issues at hand now? I have to say, as a member of “Generation X,” that this constant replay of the hot-button issues from the early 1970’s is getting very tiresome.”

My guess is that Citizen Smash is speaking for most voters who it must be noted paid very little attention to these sort of issues when it was George H.W. Bush vs Bill Clinton, Bob Dole vs. Bill Clinton, and John McCain vs. George W. Bush.

However, if you’re already sick of talking about Vietnam, just give it a few months. I say that because the Democrats seem to be gearing up to make John Kerry’s distinguished service in Vietnam one of the key issues, perhaps THE key issue that he intends to run on.

I know some of you are probably thinking,

“Come on Hawkins, he won those medals 35 years ago and then he even allowed the world to think that he threw them away for more than a decade. Surely he can’t think that he’s going ride those medals to the Presidency?”

Hey, I’m not in charge of political strategy for the Kerry campaign. But, if they’re crazy enough to think that they’re going to be able to sell people on the idea that man who has been in the Senate for 20 years is going to stand up and “fight special interests,” then they obviously believe they can convince people of just about anything.

But, if you’re watching, all the signs of a “Vietnam” strategy are there. Kerry has already been mocked across the blogosphere for incessantly mentioning that he was in Vietnam. He also surrounds himself with Vietnam vets and has run campaign commercials in the primaries that focus on his status as a, “veteran and war hero”.

Most importantly, you have to remember that the last thing a Massachusetts liberal with a terrible voting record on security issues wants to do is go toe to toe on defense issues with George Bush in a time of war. So expect him to try to use the old Max Cleland dodge to get out of it. Kerry will claim that simply being a decorated Vietnam vet makes him credible on national defense and if anyone questions his judgement, they’re attacking his patriotism. Then the issue becomes the attacks on his patriotism, not his sure to be mousey foreign policy.

So if Kerry is going to try to convince voters that they can trust him in the Oval Office primarily because he’s a war hero, then the GOP is going to have to hammer him on his disgraceful activities after he returned Vietnam just enough neutralize the issue. Of course, that means — yes, you guessed it — we’re all probably going to be treated to Vietnam discussions ad nauseum for months unless Kerry gets his nose bloodied on the issue early and decides to go in another direction. All I can say is root for that bloody nose…

***Update #1***: I think this bumper sticker I ran across on WorldNetDaily officially signifies that the gloves are off on the Vietnam issue…

***Update #2***: Speaking of taking the gloves off on this issue, here’s Ann Coulter on Max Cleland who I mentioned earlier in this post…

“Moreover, if we’re going to start delving into exactly who did what back then, maybe Max Cleland should stop allowing Democrats to portray him as a war hero who lost his limbs taking enemy fire on the battlefields of Vietnam.

Cleland lost three limbs in an accident during a routine noncombat mission where he was about to drink beer with friends. He saw a grenade on the ground and picked it up. He could have done that at Fort Dix. In fact, Cleland could have dropped a grenade on his foot as a National Guardsman – or what Cleland sneeringly calls “weekend warriors.” Luckily for Cleland’s political career and current pomposity about Bush, he happened to do it while in Vietnam.

There is more than a whiff of dishonesty in how Cleland is presented to the American people. Terry McAuliffe goes around saying, “Max Cleland, a triple amputee who left three limbs on the battlefield of Vietnam,” was thrown out of office because Republicans “had the audacity to call Max Cleland unpatriotic.” Mr. Cleland, a word of advice: When a slimy weasel like Terry McAuliffe is vouching for your combat record, it’s time to sound “retreat” on that subject.

Needless to say, no one ever challenged Cleland’s “patriotism.” His performance in the Senate was the issue, which should not have come as a bolt out of the blue inasmuch as he was running for re-election to the Senate. Sen. Cleland had refused to vote for the Homeland Security bill unless it was chock-full of pro-union perks that would have jeopardized national security. (“OH, MY GOD! A HIJACKED PLANE IS HEADED FOR THE WHITE HOUSE!” “Sorry, I’m on my break. Please call back in two hours.”)

The good people of Georgia – who do not need lectures on admiring military service – gave Cleland one pass for being a Vietnam veteran. He didn’t get a lifetime pass.

Indeed, if Cleland had dropped a grenade on himself at Fort Dix rather than in Vietnam, he would never have been a U.S. senator in the first place. Maybe he’d be the best pharmacist in Atlanta, but not a U.S. senator. He got into office on the basis of serving in Vietnam and was thrown out for his performance as a senator.

Cleland wore the uniform, he was in Vietnam, and he has shown courage by going on to lead a productive life. But he didn’t “give his limbs for his country,” or leave them “on the battlefield.” There was no bravery involved in dropping a grenade on himself with no enemy troops in sight. That could have happened in the Texas National Guard – which Cleland denigrates while demanding his own sanctification.”

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