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What Else Is In Scott's Head?

The blog site for writer Scott C. Smith. Some observations on the world we live in and life in general. And maybe some politics.

Monday, August 02, 2004

John Kerry, George Bush, and Vietnam

Conservatives are in full-attack mode, making light of John Kerry's record of service in Vietnam ("only four months!") and that he was motivated not by wanting to serve his country, but by his political aspirations. Matt Drudge recently ran with a discredited rumor that John Kerry had re-enacted combat action in Vietnam for his personal record (Kerry, like many others who served in that time, had a Super-8 camera to record what he did in Vietnam); the implication being, Kerry did so in order to make himself out as a hero and thus more viable a political candidate. Right-wingers dismiss Kerry's service outright, claiming he didn't earn the decorations and medals he was award (Silver Star, Bronze Star, three Purple Hearts) and that his whole reason for leaving Vietnam was to launch a political campaign.

But what about George W. Bush? He certainly had no interest in going to Vietnam when he was of age to be drafted. It's not much of a leap to assume Bush also had political aspirations. He couldn't dodge the draft, knowing that would come back to haunt him later, but instead, was given a spot he did not deserve in the Texas Air National Guard. Bush scored the lowest possible score in an aptitude test and was not only admitted over more qualified candidates, but was also commissioned an officer following six weeks of basic airman training.

"I was not prepared to shoot my eardrum out with a shotgun in order to get a deferment. Nor was I willing to go to Canada. So I chose to better myself by learning how to fly airplanes," Bush said, according to MSNBC.

As was reported by the Boston Globe in 2000, there are gaps in Bush's service record. Although Bush released a number of his service records, there are still periods of time unaccounted for.

Talk about political aspirations: in 1972, Bush was asked to help out in the political campaign of Bush family friend Winton Blount, who was running for the U.S. Senate in Alabama. Bush requested time off from his duties and was allowed to work on the campaign. Imagine that. While hundreds of young men Bush's age died in Vietnam that year, Bush skated out of his service to work on a political campaign. I imagine the troops wounded in action in 1972 would have liked to have left Vietnam for several months to work on political campaigns.

Four months of service in Vietnam by John Kerry is four months longer than George W. Bush's service in Vietnam, which was zero days, zero hours, and zero minutes. Bush's mediocre Air Guard test score should have sent his ass straight to the draft board, but Bush had friends in high places who wanted to make sure the former Yale cheerleader didn't have to get himself killed.

Does it matter that Kerry only spent four months in combat? No, it doesn't. What matters is that he volunteered to go to Vietnam, not Bush. Kerry put his ass on the line, not Bush. Kerry earned a Silver Star, not Bush. Kerry was wounded in action, not Bush. Unless the Air Guard awarded its officers a medal for not showing up for duty. If that's the case, George W. Bush would have a chest full of medals and ribbons. He doesn't.


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