Am I detecting a trend here?
Bill Clinton, America’s most famous draft-dodger, philanderer and non-inhaling pot-smoker, was elected president in 1992 over George Bush the Elder, a decorated World War II hero who had survived being shot down in a fighter plane over the Pacific Ocean.
Four years later Clinton was re-elected, running against World War II hero Bob Dole, who had been so seriously wounded in combat that his life hung in the balance for many months afterward and he lost the use of his right arm.
In 2000, George Bush the Younger, who bravely patrolled the airspace along the Texas/Mexican border during the Vietnam War, won the presidency (sort of) over former Vice President Al Gore, who was actually present for that conflict, albeit as a battlefield journalist. (And, speaking of vice presidents, we seem perfectly OK with Dick Cheney, who explained that he had “other priorities” than being used as cannon fodder during the Vietnam War, although he fully supported others making this sacrifice. He was granted seven, count ’em, seven deferments.)
On the way to the Republican nomination before that election, George W’s forces smeared Sen. John McCain during the South Carolina primary, questioning his patriotism and spreading a rumor that he had a black child out of wedlock. McCain was also a war hero who was shot down over North Vietnam and spent several years at the Hanoi Hilton.
In 2002, GOP operatives also impugned the patriotism of former Georgia Democratic Sen. Max Cleland, who lost his legs and the use of an arm as a result of grievous wounds suffered “way down yonder in Vietnam.”
So this time President Shrub, also a big supporter of the Vietnam War as long as other young men were sent to do the fighting while he got out of his nominal military service early to go to business school, is having his minions besmirch the character and courage of Sen. John Kerry, who volunteered for military duty and was awarded medals and Purple Hearts galore for his service in that conflict.
We now know that the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, a gross misnomer for the biggest bunch of liars since Nixon and his cronies got run out of the White House, were being advised by the Bush/Cheney campaign’s attorney at the same time Bush was denying any connection with the group. Another Bush campaign worker was also found to be in league with the smear attempt.
Apparently Bush’s campaign strategists figure that since it’s worked so well in the past, this tactic is a sure-fire winner, and never mind the startling hypocrisy of their faint-hearted mannequin spitting on a flesh-and-blood warrior. (Kerry’s wounds weren’t serious enough, they proclaimed despite all evidence to the contrary; and they were self-inflicted; and he fabricated the details of his Silver and Bronze Star heroics; and he cut and ran after receiving three scratches; and he lied about American soldiers raping and killing and maiming Vietnam civilians and burning their villages. (And never mind My Lai and similar incidents of brutality recounted by other veterans upon their disillusioned return.)
Now, of course, George Bush II proudly describes himself as a “war president,” having displayed sufficient “political courage” — as opposed to genuine courage — to start an unnecessary war of his own and send a new crop of young men without influential fathers into battle to be shot and blown up. But again never mind, this uncomfortable reality seems to be largely ignored or excused by the majority of our good citizenry.
Saddam could have had weapons of mass destruction, after all, and he could have been in cahoots with Al Qaeda terrorists. How was the president to know better? He had to rely on his inept intelligence agencies, and the untold billions they waste on who-knows-what just wasn’t enough to provide any sort of reliable facts. (Why, there’s even the possibility Saddam was hiding Hitler in the basement of one of his many mansions, given their similar evil natures.)
At any rate, it would appear we citizens prefer presidents who are more like most of us – egocentric scaredy-cats far more concerned with our hedonistic lifestyles and plans for lengthy retirements than with being selfless, stalwart patriots who rush in to defend democratic principles where even angels fear to tread. (Give us a cowardly angel every time, we say!)
Besides, we do our part in the current war effort by buying great quantities of non-essential consumer products – Must have flat-screen 52-inch HDTV, Marge, and many six-packs of Duff – to keep our economy strong. And we get our shallow patriotism stirred occasionally by watching celluloid Rambos mow down legions of evil enemies while receiving only fetching scratches on their manly pecs and biceps. (Gee, no one complains that their wounds aren’t bad enough.)
So it seems to me that Kerry’s only chance of victory is having his heroism totally discredited by the lying Swifties and other Republican slime groups.
You see, if more voters come to believe he actually didn’t deserve his decorations, that he is in fact as timid and spineless as most of us, then he may find favor in the eyes of a nation that doesn’t want to be reminded of its shameful lack of dedication to causes larger than the pleasure principle.
It’s beginning to look like that’s the American way.
David Grant Long writes from Cortez.