Originally posted by midwinter
Say you're an uber-wealthy New England liberal elite who went to a war that was wildly unpopular and heavily contested. Say you came back and read a statement before Congress written by a group of soldiers who wanted to let America know, in a public fashion, what kinds of horrible things were going on in the war.
Are you suggesting that reading a group-authored statement in which some of the authors admit to committing war crimes is the same thing as smearing a war veteran's record for political gain?
o Kerry's used "testimony" from the VVAW's "Winter Soldier Investigation" as the basis for his war crimes charges, although none of the witnesses there were willing to sign depositions affirming their claims. Later investigators were unable to confirm any of the reported atrocities, and in fact discovered that a number of the witnesses had never been in Vietnam, had never been in combat, or were imposters who had assumed the identity of real veterans.
o The deception extended to the VVAW leadership. Executive secretary Al Hubbard claimed to have been an Air Force captain wounded piloting a transport over Da Nang in 1966. Hubbard was actually a staff sergeant who was never assigned to Vietnam.
Finally here is what Kerry claimed about the crimes and the reality of the situation.
o In his April 1971 speech to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, John Kerry claimed that war crimes committed by the American military against Vietnamese civilians were "not isolated incidents, but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis..." War crimes in Vietnam were actually quite rare.
o Kerry claimed that war crimes were being committed "with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command." In fact, military personnel were warned that "if you disobey the rules of engagement, you can be tried and punished." War crimes were never a matter of policy, and were prosecuted when discovered.
o Kerry charged that the war in Vietnam was a racist war, that "blacks provided the highest percentage of casualties." Research published in B.G. Burkett's book "Stolen Valor" and other sources shows that casualty rates for black and white soldiers during Vietnam closely matched the proportion of America's overall population represented by each race.
So in other words you're saying that a decorated Vietnam veteran ought not mention his record because his opponents will just try to smear him and paint him as a coward? You sure you want to argue that? I swear to God, I can't figure conservatives (not you) out. Clinton didn't serve and the right wing went batshit about it. Kerry did serve, and the right wing is going batshit about it.
No point blank, I NEVER said that someone shouldn't be allowed to mention their record. I said point blank that when you brandish it as a credential that you claim makes you better than others, then others will say that it doesn't make you better than them.
Don't take my word for it here is an article where the Dean campaign blasts Kerry for it and where the war credentials have been used against Dean and Edwards.Dean Blast
Before he became a political candidate for president, John Kerry clearly believed that military service should not be used for political gain, said Jay Carson, a spokesman for Dean, the former governor of Vermont who is running well ahead of Kerry in recent New Hampshire polls.
And he was right about that, Carson added. Unfortunately, now John Kerry and his campaign have a strategy to use that record to further his political career.
Note that stopping someone from using their service for political gain against others is not the same as simply smearing them for political gain. Kerry is the one who has taken action here. The people who counter his claims do so as a reaction.
Kerry was a decorated veteran who volunteered to go to a war that neither of the previous two presidents wanted to have anything to do with. He was wounded and came home. When he got home, he spoke out against the war and attempted to work with like-minded others to expose the evils he had seen while there.
Again, you seem to be suggesting that Kerry shouldn't talk about his record because his political opponents will just try to disparage his record.
He doesn't talk about his record except to silence people critical of his ideals. He doesn't do it against just Republicans. It has become his pat answer to dealing with anything he doesn't care to discuss. It amounts to, "You can't question me, I'm a vet and that means I'm better than you."
At a Democratic presidential debate last Thursday, Kerry responded to a jibe from rival Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) about his privileged upbringing by recalling his war experience.
Can I say that when I was serving in Vietnam on a small boat, the one thing I learned was nobody asked you where you came from, Kerry said. Nobody worried about your background. You fought together, you lived together and you bled together.
Kerry then sought to turn his answer into political capital.
I think I stand here with a broader base of experience, both in domestic affairs and in foreign affairs, than any other person, he said of his Democratic primary opponents.
In May, Kerry told the Orlando Sentinel, I am the only person running for this job who has actually fought in a war.
When the reverse is true, when people say that issues related to war cannot be criticized, you absolutely call them on it. Kerry is not above criticism. It is not disgusting or unpatriotic or any other such word. He is a man who claims credentials and wisdom above others of all political persuasions. Questioning that isn't wrong or even offensive.
Especially if that "questioning" involves attempting to smear a decorated war veteran. Now that I think about it, I really wish I'd interrogated my grandfather when he'd pull his WW2/Depression stories out on me to get me to do something. Maybe someone should've question GHW Bush's "war credentials" before they let him talk about it.
Perhaps they motivated you, but if he claimed he was right on an issue and you were wrong, for no other reason than those medals, you probably would question them. If he started claiming an authority of matters of certain English authors because of his medals, you would question his credentials, and it wouldn't be offensive to do so. You would ask him his basis for claiming such knowledge because having a war medal doesn't make one an English professor.
Nor does it make one more intelligent than someone else. It doesn't guarantee a better foreign policy. It doesn't guarantee a better plan to fight terrorism or deal with Iraq.
So when someone claims, it does, questioning that isn't offensive.
As President, I will wage this war with the lessons I learned in war.
I was in a war so I am smarter, my plan is better. You can't claim my plan isn't better unless you were in a war and can judge it from that perspective. So now I am above criticism.