Monday, August 02, 2004
What's the deal?
Lawrence Kaplan, on Kerry’s convention speech:
“the theme of the night clearly took its cue from the 1996 GOP convention, where Republicans attacked the sitting commander-in-chief as a draft dodger--in contrast to World War II hero Bob Dole, who, ‘bloodied in combat’ and ‘tested by fire on the battlefield,’ would be a ‘commander-in-chief whom our military respects,’ in the words of former President George H.W. Bush. But last night's sheer militarism--how else to describe the implicit, and too often explicit, insistence that veterans are morally superior to and possess better judgment than their civilian counterparts?--topped even that.”
With the sloppy salute, opening “reporting for duty” line and fellow Vietnam vets on stage, the speech was designed to remind us: Kerry is a veteran. More than that, he’s a combat veteran. And that’s important – so important that it’s become the de facto theme of his whole campaign. As a vet, Kerry is better able to relate to military people and issues. As a combat vet, he knows what war is really like, and so will be more prudent in the use of the armed forces. That’s the point of the constant references, and everybody gets it.
It’s true that military experience is a useful attribute for a Commander in Chief. But I see irony here. While pushing his war record in our collective face, Kerry is criticizing Bush for getting into the Iraq war (“I will not mislead us into war…”), and claiming that his experience will help him stay out of future conflicts. But ‘no future conflicts’ means no more combat vets to become future Presidents, Congressmen, and Secretaries. Surely Kerry doesn’t want to deprive future America of the very thing that he’s offering, the thing that he claims will make him a better President than Gee Dub. Seriously, what is he trying to pull? He should be promising that, during his Presidency, young Americans will get the same opportunity that he had to volunteer and experience war firsthand. He’s obviously (!) proud of his own service, is he going to deny that to upcoming generations?
Think about that in the voting booth.
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