Tuesday, December 24, 2002

Attacking Kerry's war record. You'd think it would be impossible for the Republicans to turn John Kerry's military experience against him. Indeed, Kerry and his supporters hope that his status as a Vietnam veteran and a war hero will offset his reputation as a Massachusetts liberal. But Jed Babbin, a Defense Department official for Bush I, gives it a try this morning on the right-wing American Prowler website. (I found the link at Real Clear Politics.) Babbin's is a crude and ugly attack, fascinating mainly because it may serve as a rough draft for what's coming should Kerry succeed in winning the Democratic nomination.

According to Babbin's screed, Kerry's service in Vietnam so damaged him that he wound up a dangerous bleeding heart who can't be trusted as commander-in-chief. Here's the nastiest passage, attributed, naturally, to anonymous sources:

One senior Army officer, a warrior from Gulf War 1, told me that Kerry suffers from the Vietnam syndrome. In his judgment, Kerry is, "too traumatized by the lost war to cope with any other war under any circumstances." A former Navy SEAL told me he thinks Kerry is an opportunist. That same judgment of Kerry came independently from a Marine whose Vietnam service was as tough or tougher than Kerry's. He told me, "I do not trust people like [Kerry] -- scratch that individual and watch an opportunist bleed."

So the right, after eight years of distrusting Bill Clinton because he never served, now distrusts Kerry because he did serve. Apparently the only proper course for a future commander-in-chief is that of George W. Bush, who safely maneuvered planes over Texas skies, thus giving him the military record that Clinton lacked while sparing him of the terrible knowledge that Kerry paid such a high price to obtain.

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