August 25, 2004

The ultimate Irony
Posted by McQ

Jim Wooten, at the Atlanta Journal Constitution suggests that the Kerry/Vietnam story is actually three stories:

John Kerry's Vietnam experience is not one story.

It is at least two. A third, not fully explored, is whether the "combat Kerry" or the "anti-war Kerry" survived to become a U.S. Senate policy-maker.

The two stories are Kerry in Vietnam and Kerry as the anti-war activist who accused his fellow veterans of committing atrocities on a daily basis with the full knowledge of their officers -- a view he holds to this day. Swift-boat veterans and the military records are the authorities on his months in Vietnam. Kerry has not agreed to sign Standard Form 180 for their release, though he has released some. His post-Vietnam activities, however, affect everybody who ever served.

An examination of his Senate record indicates to me, at least, that the anti-war Kerry is the one that survived, even though he now is attempting to use his "combat Kerry" as the best stepping-stone for his aquisition of power. That's primarily because we are at war.

Ironically, if we lived in a pre 9/11 world, the argument could be made that his anti-war past would be an asset in a Presidential run. And it would be hard to argue that his Senate record wouldn't rank right up there with the best in that regard. He'd be peddling the "Peace dividend", talking about our bloated intelligence apparatus and suggesting cuts and generally allying himself with the anti-military left. He could do so unabashedly, and have the credentials to pull it off.

But 9/11 did happen and that sort of record, at least at this point, is pure poison. Thus, "combat Kerry" is created for the times we live in. But it isn't the real Kerry, the 20 years worth of Kerry which resides in the Senate records.

The ultimate irony, however, is found in Wooten's next statement:

The anti-war movement in this country today is precisely where it was in its earliest stages of Vietnam. This nation is about a year away from serious antiwar activity, especially if Bush wins re-election and the pent-up bitterness that now drives the national Democratic Party has no productive outlet.

But what if Kerry wins? The irony there would be undeniable. He's almost completely accepted Bush's position.

It [the anti-war movement] will develop much more quickly now than then. In the absence of a draft, the nation is cultivating generations of opinion leaders with no ties to the military, no real comprehension of their capabilities and no real sense of when and how to use them. Kerry's Vietnam experience is commendable and useful, but the real question unanswered by the campaigns so far is what lessons he learned about how to use power to combat terrorism. That's the third story not yet pursued.

How would the poster-boy for the Vietnam anti-war movement handle the budding Iraq anti-war movement? More importantly .... how would he handle the War on Terror.

I have my ideas. Love to hear yours.

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Comments

How about we don't put ourselves in a position to find out?

Posted by: shark at August 25, 2004 10:47 AM

You missed a very important point.

Assuming, as you did, that 9/11 had never happened, we would not be in Iraq now...and the economy would not have suffered a $3 trillion dollar loss from 9/11, and would be much, much further out of the Clinton-2000 recession than we are now.

Anyway, if we were still in a 9/10 world, all Kerry would have would have been was the economy, and the economy would be far better. Without a war, Kerry (if he had in fact won the nomination, which he might not have) would be losing 55%-35%, and Bush would be sailing to a second term.

Posted by: Annie Newsome at August 25, 2004 10:22 PM

Not necessarily Anne. There's another important point. Regardless of whether its a 9/10 or 9/12 world, the left is still convinced Bush stole the election. It is the primary source of their anger at Bush. Couple that with the disenchantment much of the right has felt for Bush because of run away spending, and its not at all clear Bush sails to a second term.

With the WoT and Iraq, there's a reason for the right to keep Bush in office. Without them, there very well may not have been.

Posted by: McQ at August 25, 2004 10:27 PM