April 29, 2004

Okay. I've made my decision on "Someone's" Service in Vietnam.

I give John Kerry full credit for his medals. There are many who don't - but I know from my own military career that there can be tremendous variability in recommendation/decision to award standards that I'm going to take his medals at face value. Shoot, I owe that to my Dad, who has a few more of everything (7 Purple Hearts, Silver Star, Bronze w/V, Distinguished Flying Cross). Nope. John Kerry volunteered to go to Vietnam (in case you hadn't heard). And he saw some action at the sharp end. None of this, btw, qualifies him to be Commander-in-Chief. Anymore than my Dad's, or my (less stellar), military careers and combat experiences do. Much as I dislike him, Wesley Clark's military credentials are more suited to a CinC resume' than Kerry's.

I DO find Kerry's actions in Vietnam applicable, however. I do find evidence of character there - that IS applicable to his qualifications to be Commander in Chief. And based on his own words and actions, I find him lacking. Deficient in the traits I'm looking for in a CinC. Nope, I don't mind the fact that he left his service commitment early. The President did so with his National Guard time. Both left using programs put in place by the services to facilitate a draw-down. Them leaving voluntarily reduced the number who got fired, perhaps. Just as Cheney and Rove used the provided deferments to avoid being drafted, Kerry and Bush used the provided options to leave the service early. Nope. No problems there.

So. Where's my beef? My beef is his leaving his combat command early. Using the '3 Hearts, you're out" policy. I don't believe that policy was intended for officers. My father certainly didn't leave his command after he got his 3rd Purple Heart. No, he stayed with it and got two more, for a total of 5. I have no problem with any enlisted soldier, sailor, airman, Marine, or Coast Guardsmen who used that policy to get out of the combat zone. Especially draftees. I have extreme problems with an officer who did so.

Why? Because they are officers. We don't draft line officers. (We have drafted special staff officers, like doctors) You volunteer to be Leaders. To whom much is given, from whom much is expected. Most wounds, little ones to mortal ones, are random events. As the old aphorism tells it: It's not the bullet with your number on it you need to be concerned about - it's the one addressed to "To Whom It May Concern" that you need to worry about. The combat calculus of wounds is a matter of inches. A nick on the ear? One inch in the wrong direction, and it's brains all over everywhere. A flesh wound on the forearm? An inch either way and it's shattered bones, destroyed elbows, amputation. A grazing wound of the abdomen? An inch deeper and it's disembowelment.

So, where am I going with this? John Kerry volunteered to lead sailors in combat. And for whatever reason - when he had a chance to leave combat early, he took it. Not because of disabling wounds. Not because of a death in the family that made him head of household. Not because of orders from higher. No, he apparently was either tired of combat, a rich boy dilettante who had other interests he wished to pursue and this was boring, or because his collection of Purple Hearts was starting to make him contemplate his mortality. Or whatever reason he wishes to advance any given segment of air time.

I don't care. As far as I'm concerned, he abandoned his men. In combat. Not under fire - but in a combat billet. His sailors didn't have the option of pulling pitch out of there and off to a cushy billet as an aide back home in the old stomping grounds. No, while John Kerry went back to the canapé' and caviar circuit of the wealthy, with his cushy east coast billet, his sailors still patrolled the dirty, dangerous river waters of South Vietnam. While John Kerry decided that the men serving in Vietnam were rapists and murderers, while John Kerry was tossing whatever (including the 3 Hearts that got him out of combat) over the fence, while John Kerry was getting face time in Congress, those sailors manned their positions until normal relief came. And they stayed exposed to the combat calculus. And they couldn't just leave because they were bored, or scared, or had 'other, better things to do'.

So, John Kerry - I find your character in this critical facet wanting. I don't want a Commander in Chief who will cut and run, because he's bored, it's not working out, he's got something else he'd rather do. Nope. If you are going to use your Vietnam experience as a shining example of something people should use to make a judgment on your fitness to serve as CinC - I do so.

And I find you wanting. I don't want a leader who abandons his warriors, leaves before his tour, simply because he can.

You're not worthy, sir.

John | Permalink | Comments (26) | TrackBack (7) | Global War on Terror (GWOT) | Observations on things Military | Politics
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Comments on Okay. I've made my decision on "Someone's" Service in Vietnam.
Michael briefed on April 29, 2004 10:22 AM

Nice post. I know that we can't take those medals from Kerry, and it does seem a bit off to question their value 30 years later, even if Kerry has only selectively valued them himself. It is only speculation on my part, but I think Kerry got what he wanted out of Vietnam and couldn't see staying there longer than he wanted. He had politics on the mind and felt some medals would strengthen his resume. (Personally, the people who really deserve the medals are those that would never insist that they get them. How heroic can someone be considered if they demand that there acts be recognized? True heroism, in my experience, walks hand in hand with humility and a desire for group over self.)

Boudicca briefed on April 29, 2004 12:36 PM

Excellent post.

Jack briefed on April 29, 2004 04:32 PM

John, again, I am not trying to be contentious for the sake of controversy, but I feel it would be useful for you to contrast your statement of "I don't care. As far as I'm concerned, he abandoned his men. In combat. Not under fire - but in a combat billet. His sailors didn't have the option of pulling pitch out of there and off to a cushy billet as an aide back home in the old stomping grounds. No, while John Kerry went back to the canapé' and caviar circuit of the wealthy, with his cushy east coast billet, his sailors still patrolled the dirty, dangerous river waters of South Vietnam. While John Kerry decided that the men serving in Vietnam were rapists and murderers, while John Kerry was tossing whatever (including the 3 Hearts that got him out of combat) over the fence, while John Kerry was getting face time in Congress, those sailors manned their positions until normal relief came. And they stayed exposed to the combat calculus. And they couldn't just leave because they were bored, or scared, or had 'other, better things to do'." with the fact that George W. Bush never served in combat to begin with. And again, not to be contentious, but to fully understand, I would like to see an explanation that does not say "but he wanted to serve in combat, but was not allowed" because if he truly did want to serve, he would have been able to with his connections.

I am really looking for the military point of view lookint at all sides here.

Calliope briefed on April 29, 2004 05:13 PM

You're full of shit Jack.

You miss the point of the post, which is an examination of Kerry's record not Bush's.

If John feels like slapping GWB around he'll get to it in due time.

Claire briefed on April 29, 2004 05:22 PM

Thank you, John. I had not seen it from that angle.

John of Argghhh! briefed on April 29, 2004 05:33 PM

Now now, Calliope! Jack is our friend. Keep it civil! 8^)

I'll respond to Jack in a bit. I'm for dinner first. I've addressed this in a different way elsewhere, but I'll get to it here. It's been a long day, capping a long week with SoA. Everybody go have the libation of their choice!

Pete (Alois) briefed on April 29, 2004 05:39 PM

Excellent... post... must... link... forthwith. Clarifies some random thoughts I couldn't quite put into words.

Put a few bucks toward Spirit of America for you n' the Fusileers (it was worth it, to snitch the Sam poster).

And BTW, thanx for blogrolling us too.

John of Argghhh! briefed on April 29, 2004 07:35 PM

Jack. Sure you are! Well, being contentious, anyway. Your motives I leave for you.

First question. What does it matter if Bush went to combat or not? Most people in uniform, did not. Draftees were over-represented in the combat elements, to be sure. Still, most people in uniform did not see much, if any combat. He joined the Air Guard. He learned to fly a dangerous aircraft, the Convair F102 fighter, which, by the way, carried nuke missiles, the Douglas MB-1 Genie. I know something about nukes, having been in nuke-capable artillery units and in the 'special weapons' business. Slugs don't stay in the PRP, the Personnel Reliability Program.

The F102 is I believe the only aircraft Bush was signed off on to fly. It's an aircraft that was designed to get up fast, go high fast, and nuke incoming Soviet bomber formations. It's not a fighter as we think of fighters, much less a fighter-bomber. It's mission (and this is why the Guard had most of them) was the air defense of the United States. The AF experimented with either the F102 or it's follow-on, the F106, and found them useless in Vietnam-style warfare. You don't just hop from the cockpit of an F102 into an F4, and go bombing in the Central Highlands. There is at least a six-month transition phase between aircraft of those types - as the pilots not only have to learn how to fly the new aircraft, they have to learn how to use it, tactically. First in straight pilot stuff, and then in two ship formations, then in larger formations. It's not a simple process. At the same time - believe it or not - the war was winding down, the AF had all the F4, Skyhawk, Skyraider, and Thud-drivers it needed. The mission to defend the US was still considered important. The AF is looking ahead to an impending draw-down. Okay, so Bush didn't get to go to combat, even if he asked - the AF simply didn't need him badly enough to want to spend the effort to retrain him. The situation is analgous to an Army Air Defense Artilleryman. There was no credible air threat in South Vietnam. Does that mean the Duck Hunters are somehow tainted for not 'getting into combat'? No. Last I heard, no nuke submariners served in combat positions during Vietnam. They were too busy stooging around under the polar ice caps. Chicken? I don't think so.

Another point - not everyone who asks for a combat billet, gets one. I sat out Desert Storm because the Chief of Staff, Army, decided that the Observer-Controllers at the National Training Center were too valuable in their current capacity than adding them as 'padding' to the deploying force. All requests for assignment overseas were denied. I tried working a few angles. It didn't work. I know you aren't implying anything about me, Jack - I'm just making a point - you can not get there, even if you are a highly regarded combat arms officer who just spent three years training people how to fight a mechanized war in a desert.

Bottom line - the AF didn't need Bush, so they didn't take him up on his offer. Could he have pushed harder? Maybe. So what? He asked, he got turned down. Now he's tainted? Gimme a break. Then we start dismantling the ground-based interceptor defenses, and drawing down the air force, and someone is going to have to get fired, if enough people don't leave voluntarily. So, programs are put in place (nothing like the incentives after Desert Storm, but there were programs established to encourage people to leave) and Bush, seeing little to no future in the Air Guard, and wanting to do something else, takes the early out offered, and out he goes. As for his alleged AWOL time, go argue with Baldilocks about it. She has the best dissection of that - and she's a retired Air Guardsman.

Contrast Kerry. He volunteers, he goes, he further volunteers for combat, and he gets his wish. He has his war. For some reason - I don't know what, I'm not accusing him of cowardice (and no, having one Silver Star does not make you a hero forever. You can lose your nerve. A well-fed, well-rested soldier may be a lion one day - catch him three weeks later on bad rations and no sleep, and he breaks and runs). What bothers me about Kerry is not that he used the same kind of offer to get out of the Navy that Bush used to get out of the Air Guard. It's that he used the "3 Hearts you're out" policy to get out of a combat leader position - one that he asked for - and left his men behind. Not because it was time for him to rotate. Not because of pressing family problems. Not because of serious wounds. But apparently because he just wanted to, and he could. I'm guessing any number of his sailors wouldn't have minded that 'get out of hell' ticket. And I wouldn't grudge them, either. But Kerry volunteered to be a combat leader, an Officer with a capital "O" - and then left the job unfinished, and his sailors at risk. If he'd stuck it out, Jack, I'd have other reasons to not vote for him. But he's the one who says, "Look at my service!" "That's why I'm uniquely qualified for the job, not George Bush!".

I examined his case. I find him wanting. I find nothing objectionable in what Bush is reported to have done. I find nothing objectionable in the young men at the time, of all political persuasions, who used the exemption system to avoid the draft. I fault the leaders who created the exemption system - not the people who took advantage of it, as long as they did so up front and openly, rather than the more back door approach Clinton took. So, unless someone shows me a 'smoking gun' equivalent to Clinton's letters to the ROTC people, I'll give Rove and Cheney a pass.

Service as a Lieutenant is not CinC level experience. As someone else has noted, Charles Lindbergh served honorably in WWI. And was a Nazi supporter before WWII. Mere service is not a qualifier - but it can be used to judge character. In Kerry's escape from combat and later the service, and his subsequent actions (and inablity to keep his story straight) I see indicators of character that I don't care for. I have objections to the way Bush and company have prosecuted the peace - but not their character. Bush hasn't shown he'll cut and run when the polls or pols tell him he should. I don't see that kind of steel in Kerry. I see another Clinton in terms of he'll be whatever he has to be in order to be President.

Well, that was chatty. Did I answer your question?

Jack briefed on April 30, 2004 01:04 AM

John, thank you very much for your explanation. It is much more clear to me now what you're reasoning is, and I agree with that reasoning. I didn't mention the supposed "missing time" in Bush's National Guard service because both you didn't mention it and also because no one can truly know what happened that long ago, and Baldilocks did indeed give a good description of how those kinds of records work (or don't work). I did ask you to contrast your view on Kerry with your view on Bush because every discussion of Kerry or Bush until November will be in the context of the election, so discussing Kerry by its nature will contrast (even if only by implication) with Bush, and vice versa.

My motives for asking were because I truly do want to understand your reasoning, not just be a "rah-rah" unquestioning cheerleader, which is what I see in the comments of many blogs. I respect your experience and your point of view, and I wanted to be sure that I get the full benefit of both!

Don't think I only question people who are saying negative things about Kerry. I leave comments that question negative assertions about President Bush on blogs that make them as well. If blogging is ever to be taken seriously, we must back up our assertions with both facts and clear reasoning. If things are never questioned and discussed, then we aren't following the spirit of democracy.

Jack briefed on April 30, 2004 01:21 AM

Oh, I guess I should have said, "not being contentious for the sake of being contentions, but questioning to help in my understanding."

And Calliope, if you think that makes me "full of shit", go to your Hell of mindlessness. Those of us who use our brains don't have time for YOUR shit.

John of Argghhh! briefed on April 30, 2004 01:36 AM

Okay kids, that's enough trash talk in my comments. Ya each got one shot. Now lettit go!

This is not a 'shake hands and return to your corners' comment thread. Let's not make it one! Those are fun, but this post wasn't intended for that.

Ya don't have to shake hands - but if we can't keep it civil (passionate, but civil) I'll just shut down the thread!

No apologies sought or needed. You two are mostly on the same side for gosh sakes!

Jack briefed on April 30, 2004 01:47 AM

Sorry for responding to the attack, John. I just really don't like taking shots without giving a reply. I think we've ALL learned where that leads us.

John of Argghhh! briefed on April 30, 2004 06:40 AM

That's why I let you have your response, Jack. Fair and balanced, that's me! 8^)

Bill from INDC Journal briefed on April 30, 2004 09:15 AM

I may be setting myself up here, I dislike Kerry and I understand your point about choosing to leave his men (oddly, most stories I've read have soldiers begging to get BACK to leading or serving with their comrades), but the fact that John Kerry volunteered to serve in combat should be enough to close the issue IMO, or at least should invalidate him from focused criticism compared to those that DID NOT serve or did not see combat.

You can feel free to shoot me down here, but I really find it impossible to believe that you would make a similiar judgement if the records of W and Kerry were reversed ... I just don't buy it.

I guess my point is, why bother making this an issue? I can see it as one small part of the puzzle that makes Kerry an asshat, but I wouldn't focus on it; there are much more relevant and egregious targets, like Kerry's actions AFTER the war ... calling his fellows war criminals and undermine the war effort was a serious misjudgement.

JMO.

John of Argghhh! briefed on April 30, 2004 09:52 AM

A couple of issues, here.

One - I'm focusing on this issue. Kerry has asked us to. So I did my analysis of it. It is one facet of all the issues, albeit to me, a retired combat arms officer, a big one. It is not the only issue that I would make my decision on - but it outweighs many others in combination.

I don't believe I said it would be the sole issue, either, but I apparently left that impression. I said I found his character wanting in this particular facet - and that in this episode I find indicators of future behavior, that has thus far been, to my eye, unmodified. Kerry wants to have it whichever way he feels like or needs, at any given moment. Hey, at one time or another, most of us do. But it's still not a trait I want in the CinC.

As for being enough to close the issue - no. Not at all. It's the follow-through that is in fact the most critical. I could cut Kerry some slack if he could produce evidence that he was deeply disturbed by the war, his actions in it, etc - that are contemporaneous to the time. But the record seems to indicate he came to that after he left - after he took the job as Aide (which is a careerist move, not the act of someone full of rage at the system and the war). However sincere he may have held his budding anti-war beliefs, that is not the reason he gave for leaving. Anyway I parse it - he couldn't take the heat or didn't want to (the dilettante factor - which if true, is actually worse) and he cut bait and walked away. Yes, to me - as a combat leader - that is one serious character flaw. And that's what I was addressing.

I am also getting tired (because I apparently just don't get it) at the DID NOT SERVE and DID NOT SEE COMBAT theme. Most people in uniform did not see combat. Less than 3% of the total population of the United States was in uniform, and maybe 30% of those saw sustained combat. In the target population of draft age, what, 15% actually got called to the colors?

Would I make the same call if the records were reversed - impossible to tell since they aren't. I believe I would make the same argument against Bush if he were pushing the story the same way and with the same vigor Kerry is. But he isn't. And there is the issue of subsequent behavior - thus far, W has not shown any inclination to walk away from hard choices and tough decisions about mushy subjects. He's pretty damn consistent - whether you like his policy or not. Kerry is whatever he has to be for whatever audience he's pandering to.

My decision on who to vote for isn't single issue - but my post was about a single issue. I don't think Bill Clinton was worthy of his office, either. Yet I soldiered on, saluted, and served him just as well as I served Carter, Reagan, and Bush1. As I would Kerry, if he get's elected. The great thing here is: as a soldier, I don't get to veto an election because I don't think the guy is worthy to be CinC. We're not a banana republic. When I was on active duty, I didn't publicly express opinions like this - because I do believe the officer corps should be muzzled in the politcal arena.

Now - I'm gonna comment. And I think Kerry is unworthy of the title CinC - but if he gets elected and I get recalled - I'll serve him. Because it's my duty.

Now I've gotten way off track! Bottom line - the post was about the single issue. There is more than any single issue to judge the overall fitness of the man for the job. As I said in the original post - there are many other reasons I wouldn't vote for Kerry.

That one I discussed is just a tie-breaker.

DaveP. briefed on April 30, 2004 10:09 AM

Jack: Here's my take on that issue, if you think it would help. First, spouting the DNC line on President Bush's service puts you into the position of naming ALL National Guard/Reserve troops, AS WELL AS all soldiers/sailors/airmen/Marines who served in stateside or noncombat positions, into a lesser category of service where their courage and will to serve can be questioned. There were an awful lot of men and women in service in places like Nome, the Fulda Gap, Panama, and the North Atlantic during the Viet Nam War; the Kerry/DNC position is that they ALL were "dodging the draft and/or evading Vietnam service". And NO, I don't believe that the RNC would be making the same statements if the position was reversed: serving and veteran military tend to vote Republican by a large margin and the RNC is not foolish enough to want to alienate that large a chunk of their voter base (remember, the current DNC and its mature power base got politicised protesting AGAINST the Viet Nam war, and mostly are NOT veterans).
Second, while I personally have no interest whatsoever in what Kerry OR Bush did in uniform as long as neither courtmartial papers nor Medal of Honor papers were filed (the name of the contest is "Best PRESIDENT", not "Best Butterbar"), the fact remains that if Kerry wishes to run on his record of thirty years ago he of course renders that record open to investigation and debate. Same for slandering Bush for imagined misdeeds during HIS service. The smarter thing to do would have been for the DNC to position Kerry based on his record and positions pertaining to 2004, not 1971.
Gee, I wonder why they have not done so?

Bill from INDC Journal briefed on April 30, 2004 11:02 AM

John -

Thinking about it, you invalidated my argument with this key line: "One - I'm focusing on this issue. Kerry has asked us to. So I did my analysis of it."

Point taken.

John of Argghhh! briefed on April 30, 2004 12:07 PM

Dang. That wordiness gets me every time!

Bill from INDC Journal briefed on April 30, 2004 02:21 PM

Hey, I just gave in because I knew that your fingers were getting tired ...

Dan briefed on May 3, 2004 01:51 AM

It really fightens me to think of Kerry as CinC.He doesn't seem to know where he is on any of the issues,and sometimes to the extent of sounding like lies!! His Viet Nam experience seems awful shady, and his protesting the war even make one wonder more.

shep briefed on May 6, 2004 04:02 PM

John,

The history shows that John Kerry asked to be discharged from the navy to run for Congress on January 3, 1970. One month later, he drops that run and throws his support behind staunch war opponent, Robert Drinan, and by June he joins Vietnam Veterans Against the War. Is it possible that you are dead wrong about his motives for leaving service? Is it possible that he was horrified by standard combat practice in-theater, which inevitably led American soldiers to inflict lots of noncombatant casualties?

Is it also possible that the men he left behind would see him as working to get them a “get out of hell” card by trying to end a terrible war that had little prospect of anything but more American and civilian Vietnamese casualties? Is it possible that he saw his duty as larger than just to the particular handful of men under the swiftboat command he had at the time? Shouldn’t he have seen his duty to all of his brothers in arms?

If Kerry acted the way he did because thought he had a duty to his fellow soldiers and his country to try to end the war in the quickest and most effective way available, wouldn’t that make your presumptions about Kerry’s motives and his character all wrong?

BTW, Kerry never said his service qualified him for CinC. He points to his service to insulate himself against partisan slams that he’s soft on defense – of course he had no clue just how partisan some people could be. And your Bush and Cheney did it OK but Clinton dodged the draft badly, along with your slandering of Kerry has partisan politics written all over it. Just so you know.

John of Argghhh! briefed on May 7, 2004 11:59 AM

Now we're to the heart of the matter, after all the maneuvering on Rosemary's site!

Just to recap - I never had a problem with his discharge from the Navy. He essentially used a Navy variant of the same offer that Bush used. The services were starting to draw down, and were letting people go. Just to be clear on that.

Horrified by standard combat practice in-theater, in the Swift Boat Navy? I could see that if he was in the ground forces, doing the day-to-day sweeps through the villages, etc, but that wasn't the Swift Boat war, really. Take my word for it - while it's also exhilirating, war sucks. There are just worse things.

Here's the crux of my position: Officer's don't get to make those choices, unless they do so openly. Declare their intent and why.

Why is that important?

The answer to that lies in the question that no one answered back on Rosemary's blog, when I asked if you guys who were arguing with me whether officers in general should refuse to serve in wars they don't believe in.

You and Arne may have just missed the question - but it's central to my issue. In this republic and in any republic that does not want to be a banana republic, the officer corps of the military must be as deferent to the civil authority as law and custom provide. Which means, we don't get to pick our wars, and just go home when we want to. Or serve when we want to. We go when we're sent. Where we're sent. For the reason we are sent. And if we come to the conclusion we don't like that, we don't approve of what we're doing, we then have only two honorable options open to us.

Serve our time, then resign (which Kerry can be argued to have done). Or, if our feelings are that strong, when in a combat lull, you request relief from assignment, stating the reason for such request. If approved, fine. If not approved, you then have the option of refusal to obey, and all that goes with it. Taking your lumps if you lose the argument.

My position is that Kerry did none of this. He chose the weasel way out. As I said before - the "3 Hearts you're out" policy really didn't apply to officers, by intent. It existed, and obviously, could be used. But to me, that was not the honorable way out for what we are now being asked to believe were his reasons for doing so. If he was doing it in order to go home and protest the war, then he did so in a cheap, weaselly fashion that for me diminishes his virtue on the issue. I really suspect he did it because he'd found out what he wanted to find out, and now wanted to go home and get on with his life. I just don't allow for that in the officer corps. I hold officers to a higher standard than that.

So, no, to me, using any and all ways to get out of the zone and end the war, FOR AN OFFICER, is not acceptable. Those are some of the restrictions, along with some free speech ones, laid upon serving officers in this Republic. It serves to keep us in our place. If Kerry felt he had a duty to do it (and at that time and place, I don't believe he did, based on what I've read, but I could be wrong) then, as far as I am concerned, he went about it wrong, and therein lies my gripe.

And yes, Kerry may never have made the claim that his service qualified him to be CinC - but plenty of his apologists have, and in some respects that's how the argument gets framed by both sides. He lost control of that. As for insulating himself against being soft on defense, his voting record strips that away. I think he did it because he sees it as a way to differentiate himself from Bush, and to pull attention away from his voting record - which pretty much is nothing but soft on defense issues.

Kerry had no clue how partisan people could be? A Massachusetts politician? Do you really, believe that?

I don't think I'm slandering Kerry, outside of what has become fairly normal political hyperbole, and no more than Kerry's camp is slandering Bush.

Whether it's slander or not depends on which side of the line you stand on.

shep briefed on May 7, 2004 12:57 PM

Well, John, you have your rules and the Navy has its rules. You're saying that Kerry should have followed yours and the fact that he followed the Navy's is somehow "weaselly". In fact, you state: "Serve our time, then resign (which Kerry can be argued to have done)", which pretty much refutes your entire argument for saying he is unfit.

Likewise, you shouldn't hold Kerry responsible for what his "apologists" have said about his service or George Bush.

At the end of the day, slander is probably the wrong word. Although I believe your depiction of Kerry is false and intended to do him harm, slander is spoken defamation. Your published slander of Kerry is more correctly termed "libel".

Bill briefed on May 7, 2004 06:35 PM

OK Shep, If you figure an Army type has different rules than the Navy when it comes to expected behavior of an officer; you need some education. Regardless of branch of service, an officer takes the same oath and is expected to adhere to the same standards. Failure to do so is a failure of your oath, your duty, and your honor. I agree totally with John's post. From another one who knows. Former shipmate of JF Kerry (USS Gridley), service in Vietnam (4/68-4/69) and 23 years in the Navy as both Enlisted and Officer.

lg briefed on October 25, 2004 02:11 AM

you guys miss the point. Don't compare Kerry to his military record. Compare Kerry's military record to that of Bush and Cheney. Then it is in context. And don't talk about Bush's Air National Guard service either. It's character here. !. Kerry volunteered into the navy after Yale everyone agree? Good.
He didn't have to. Agreed good.
He requested service in Viet Nam right? Agreed? good.
He got service on a surface vessel that stood off shore, but he requested fast boats instead, right? That was going less safe. Agreed? Good.
Now Bush: Took 4 student draft deferments. right? Agreed. When time came, was he drafted? No. Agreed? good.
Went into Texas air national guard. Correct. Good. Question: How did he jump the line? Get an answer to that. Nobody jumps a line in a danger-free service which meets every week end or so.
Now Cheney: Took 5 draft deferments. Four for college and 1 for being married. Agreed? good.
Did he serve during Viet Nam? No. Agreed. So of the three, who had the best military record. Kerry, Bush or Cheney. In context, Kerry did by a long shot. Easy.

John of Argghhh! briefed on October 25, 2004 06:11 AM

Sorry, Larry. It still doesn't work for me.

First - military record isn't a qualifier per se for the Presidency, especially as a junior leader, though Kerry presents it as virtually his only qualification. By the standard set for by Kerry in that regard, length of service in a combat zone - virtually the entire direct-combat strength of the currently-serving Army and Marine Corps are far more qualified than he is for the job. And, according to any poll that has consulted them - they're voting for Bush...

Kerry ran out of danger on a cheap context. For me, as a retired soldier, that's a deal-breaker.

Medals or no.

And his subsequent actions are just icing on the cake.

I wouldn't vote for the man just because he's the #1 Liberal in the Senate and he and I don't have much in common politically except that we live in the United States.

He's the one who made his service in Vietnam the centerpiece of his campaign - and pretty much nothing else until very late in the campaign.

But when he made his service essentially his only qualifier (hell, he *still* doesn't talk about his Senate record) he invited me to look at it.

I did. As a professional soldier. And, despite his medals (which I've pretty much accepted at face value and said as much) I find the way he got out of Vietnam to actually be worse than what his supporters accuse Bush of doing... because to me, it's a violation of the spirit of "well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office."

As I have bloviated about before - if not serving in Vietnam is a disqualifier, then most men in this country eligible during the era are disqualified.

If not serving - apparently in combat - if you were eligible during wartime is a disqualifier, then most men period, even ones who wore the uniform, are disqualified, because most men don't see the flipping elephant, they just support the ones that do.

As for Bush and the Air Guard, the TANG records and people who were in it at the time said there were flying vacancies for that particular aircraft available at that particular time. It wasn't a popular aircraft to fly - among other reasons, it is a dangerous aircraft to fly, and being tasked with the Air Defense of the US at the time (you may think that's a silly mission, but it was considered a Real Job at the time, and Lieutenants aren't generally consulted on issues like that) was a live mission that ate up more time (sitting on strip alert) than the more run-of-the-mill jobs.

Last point. The fatality rate among F102 pilots, active and Guard, was comparable to the fatality rate among the Swift Boaters. The F102 was a dangerous bird to fly.

Sorry Larry, nothing you've said makes a difference... because you and I are approaching the character issue from different perspectives, and you've offered nothing new to consider.

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