Questioning Someone’s Judgement Isn’t The Same As Questioning Their Patriotism

by John Hawkins | November 18, 2003 8:17 pm

There’s a strange little hiccup in the thinking of the left when it comes to Democrats who’ve served in the military. Their theory, while seldom explicitly spelled out, goes like so….A Democrat who has served in the military is automatically presumed to be competent when it comes to matters of national defense no matter what their positions on national defense ACTUALLY ARE. If a Republican actually questions that competence, then that’s an attack on the patriotism of the candidate whose views are being questioned. So for example, if a Democratic veteran who won medals in Vietnam suggested that we replace the entire air force with solar-powered toy planes that fired foamy, Nerf rockets covered with peace symbols and flowers, any Republican who complained would be making a dastardly attack on their patriotism.

Joan Vennochi[1], thinking along these lines, tries to rehabilitate George McGovern’s reputation & brings up the myth of the attack on Max Cleland’s patriotism in her latest column. Here’s part of what she had to say,

Nixon portrayed McGovern as a wimp, McGovern didn’t dispute the characterization, and the public bought it. But what if during that long ago presidential campaign McGovern had showcased his own brave service to the country?

The South Dakota preacher’s son was inducted into the US Army Air Force in 1943 and sent to Europe as a B-24 pilot. He flew 35 missions and earned a Distinguished Flying Cross for his service. The combat experience of this genuine World War II hero is chronicled in “The Wild Blue: The Men and Boys Who Flew the B-24s over Germany 1944-45,” by famed historian and author Stephen Ambrose. (After publication of the best-selling book, Ambrose was criticized for borrowing passages from other works, including McGovern’s autobiography, “Grassroots,” without using quotation marks.)

….In short, McGovern and his crew risked life for country at least 35 times. How is it a disgrace for any candidate to be compared with that?

Republicans are infamous for their willingness to question the patriotism of Democrats like McGovern and Max Cleland, a Vietnam veteran who lost both legs and an arm in Vietnam. Cleland lost his Georgia Senate seat to a Republican challenger who accused him of being soft on national defense because he did not back the Bush administration position on creating a homeland security department.”

I know this is going to be hard for some people on the left to accept, especially since the Democratic party is more the party of McGovern than the party of FDR or JFK these days, but George McGovern was a HUGE WIMP on national defense. Does that mean he was unpatriotic? Not at all. In fact, George McGovern is a patriotic man and his brave service to our country should be applauded.

However, having a distinguished service record in combat DOES NOT make you a foreign policy genius. Take Wesley Clark & John Kerry, for example. Both of them should certainly be congratulated for their patriotism & excellent service to our country in the military. However, neither of them comes across as serious about fighting terrorism and neither of them can be counted on to do what it takes to defend America if they become President. That’s not questioning their patriotism, it’s questioning their judgement, even if the left seems unwilling to make that distinction.

  1. Joan Vennochi:

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