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skeletons of society

I think of the person I was in high school and the few years after. I wonder if I ever ran for public office, if that part of my life would be up for grabs, even though most of it took place over 25 years ago and I am certainly not the person now that I was then. When I was in high school, I was protesting everything. I was a radical student whose only regret was that she wasn't born sooner so she could really experience the counterculture of the 70's. I went to No Nukes rallies. I bored my teachers to tears with speeches about Three Mile Island. I was anti-authority and thought that Ken Kesey and Abbie Hoffman were geniuses. It was all peace, love, happiness and fuck the establishment. Screw the United States because, man, they were screwing us. Here I am thirty years later, a war-mongering, hippie-hating, right wing fascist. Ok, I'm a right-of-center Republican. Let's talk about the Man Who Served in Vietnam. Yea, the guy protested the Vietnam war. He threw away his medals. And he still believes in that same anti-war rhetoric he held dear during the "revolution." But it's not like he's still hitting the bong and throwing stones at Lyndon Johnson. There are so many other things not to like about Megatron John Kerry. Don't waste your time ranting about the one thing that really doesn't matter. I mean, the guy was at the same peace rally as Jane Fonda. Big deal. I once went to a No Nukes concert and was surrounded with every socialist, anti-American, acid-dropping celebrity who joined the movement to bring back the counterculture. You gonna hold that against me now? With that in mind, I say to Bush supporters: If you don't think GWB should have to answer questions about his National Guard duty, then why do you think Kerry has to answer questions about being in a photo with Jane Fonda? Aren't we being just a bit hypocritical? Let's concentrate on the present and future. Forget the past. What have you done for me lately and what are you going to do for me in 2005 should be the only questions we are asking of Bush and Kerry right now.

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Comments

Ohmigod! Someone has crossed out Michele's entire blog! And removed the one comment that was supposed to be here! Dissent is crushed! Aiiiieeee! Or possibly Yeeeaaaggghhh!

I don't personally care that he became a war protester. If I'd been a young adult at that time, I most likely would've been one too. What I care about is the inconsistencies in his positions, or, more specifically, that he tends to change his positions when it's to his political advantage.

He became an anti-war advocate because it was politically popular and it was the only way he could get elected. He pretended to throw away his medals, said he was ashamed to have fought in that war. Then, several years later when being a Nam vet was cool again, he pulled those medals back out of the drawer, polished them off, and told us what a proud war hero he was.

As I said, I don't care if he opposed Viet Nam. There was a lot to oppose about it. I do think however, that the sum total of his actions relating to Viet Nam, say a lot about his character.

Michele, your last paragraph is spot on.

Pity we have to wade through all the muck before we ever get coherant answers to those two questions (if ever).

Excellent post, Michele. That said, this was the main reason I didn't do drugs; I believed that it would come back to haunt me. Heck, I sweated for weeks after "accidentally" donating to Lyndon LaRouche party at an airport (was trying to pick up the cute girl behind the table). I thought for sure the Navy would find out and revoke my Top Secret SBI clearance.

What his actions show is that he DIDN'T take a principled stand on Viet Nam during that period, he did what was popular at the time. Not a big deal, he was young. What I want to hear from him now is that he either believed what he was doing at the time or that, on reflection, he might have been wrong in his protests. You can't have it both ways, although Kerry sure seems to be trying.

We look at the candidates' lives for two things: their character and their philosophy. In either case, the further back you go, the less relevant things are and the more dramatic they have to be to be real factors. But that doesn't mean we don't look back 30 years, just that we keep perspective when we do.

Kerry's a has-been, a 60-year old ex-soldier who hasn't done a courageous or principled thing since 1970. But he's trying to run on the man he was. He's made Vietnam the centerpiece of his campaign. And as long as he's doing that, it's very relevant indeed to point out that even back then, he was a poseur who threw away another man's medals for the cameras, an opportunist who made himself famous by sliming his fellow veterans as war criminals in false testimony before Congress, and a nutty one-worlder who wanted to abolish the CIA and put the US military under UN command.

(I agree that there's not that much you can make of the tenuous connection to Fonda and Ramsey Clark - if I recall correctly, Fonda and Clark didn't even go to Hanoi to do their propaganda acts until the summer of '72 - but there are people in this country who rightly regard them as traitors, and feel very deeply about their actions back then).

Actually, Kerry didn't throw away his own medal. No, those he saved for his political career. The ones he throw away was someone else.

Michele, did you really intend to quote a Janet Jackson song?

BTW, I tend to agree with Crank -- Kerry's distant past wouldn't matter a whit to me if he could say six words without "I served in Vietnam" being four of them.

Michele, I'd like nothing better than if we didn't have to read all about Bush's ANG career (again).

That bus has, unfortunately, left the barn.

With that said, I've got to say -- as someone who got spat on and called "baby killer" about that time and I was only in high school ROTC for crying out loud -- that I resent the hell out of what Kerry did when he came back, and absolutely think (absent a really abject apology and maybe not even then) it's perfectly appropriate to question whether he's fit to be Commander in Chief afterwards.

McGehee - what Janet Jackson song did I quote?

Charlie - I think I didn't make the main point clear enought - this is more about that photo that's making the rounds today than it is about anything else. I don't like Kerry, I don't like what he stands for and I don't think he would be good for this country. But I also don't think that he should have to answer questions about a picture that shows him in the same place as Jane Fonda. It's just dumb.

I believe Kerry and Fonda did more together at that event than the photo indicated. Speeches, etc. But I agree the photo does the anti-Kerry argument no credit despite how loathsome Fonda's actions were. The substance of their little performances together would be far more damning if you printed them, I suspect.

For me, it's all about how Kerry chose to protest. The fake vets, the pro-Hanoi radicalism of VVAW, the baseless charges of war crimes delivered in official fora -- seriously poor judgment, and he was just getting started, as it turned out.

Now that I think about it, shouldn't Kerry praise Bush for serving stateside, since if Bush had been in Vietnam he'd just have been raping recently electrocuted poisoned amputees, along with seemingly everyone but Kerry himself?

When I saw the big, BOLD headline on Drudge this morning, my first thought was "so what?"

When I started college, I was a conservative Catholic.

I got better.

I hope no one holds that past against me.

Spot on. As another aging hippie turned conservative, I've also looked self-consciously at all the "Kerry in the 70s" bashing.

Let's look at the present and future. Which I will stretch to include the 'recent past,' i.e. Bush's handling of the war on terror.

I think what's got a bunch of people's shackles up is that Kerry speaks of his war record as a plus out of one side while exclaiming and demonstrating that he was against it out of the other. And the fact that in 92 said it shouldn't matter if you served or not when defending Clinton.
Kerry also hasn't said that back then he'd made a mistake or demonstrated poor judgement in his youth. He still takes pride in it.
He brought all of this up first. Most people are just being defensive at this point.

It's also a generational thing. The visceral reactions I have to Kerry's actions back then are simply not relevent to you, Michele. You are simply too young. You didn't endure the slander and the assaults. You didn't have to endure your children being taught in school that their Dad was aither an evil warmonger or too stupid to get out of going.
None of that is part of your life and that's fine. Ignore it.
It was part of my life. I shall not ignore it. Kerry reported lies as fact. He bravely threw another man's combat decorations over the fence, keeping his own for when being a hee-row would be a political plus. In a move that established the pattern for his whole life he got a woman, Jane Fonda, to put up the money to support VVAW.
That's long ago and far away to you. To me, it was yesterday.


Peter, I may have been young but I remember it all too well. I remember the war, the protests, and my confusion as to why Americans were spitting on their soldiers.

I don't know exactly why, but your comment has made me feel very resentful.

Michele,

It wasn't just the photo... It's also the Winter Soldier investigation stacked with "soldiers" whose credentials were found to be false. A movement forwarded by (you guessed it) Jane Fonda and John Kerry, who at that event you saw the picture from, became the consensus leader of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War.

As Crank said... If Vietnam is going to be Kerry's big selling point (and in reality, his only selling point since he never sponsors a bill ever, voted repeatedly to cut weapons programs and the CIA), then the public has the right to hear just how this man who's selling Vietnam today because it's politically useful sold out his comrades in arms when it was useful in the 70's.

I want to know what kind of "war hero" cuts his combat duty short using an obscure technicality in military regulations. The more I read the accounts of Kerry's supposed "heroic" acts in combat, the more the words "reckless" and "lucky" pop into my head.

I'm in total pode with you on this one, Michele. I think it's absurd to bang this military stuff regarding Bush or Kerry. But sometimes when they start, it's hard to stop them and before you know it they are going psycho helicopter.

It's not what he did then (the '70s) that bothers me... there were not very many sensible, convervative young folk then... what bothers me about Kerry is that he doesn't seem to have learned anything in the 30 years since.

He helped the Viet Cong "re-educate" South Vietnam then turned his back and said nothing as the Mekong river ran red with blood, the bodies of the butchered washing up on the shores of the Phillipines and Malaysia.

He has never even questioned whether he was right or wrong, has never voiced a bit of doubt or regret over what he helped make possible.

He hated America enough to rant and lie about his fellow soldiers, falsely claiming they were all rapists, torturers and random baby killers but never said a word about the million murdered by the communists in the purges after we left.

I marched against the Vietnam war, then I grew up, got a job and learned how the world really works.

Poverty ain't the cause of war or crime. Well fed people will rob, rape and pillage.

Not everyone wants to get along. There are bad people in the world and we ain't them.

You can't talk your way out of every situation. Bad people only talk until they can take a clear shot... so keep your gun handy, loaded and cocked.

Things do not always "work themselves out..." Sometimes the good people have to kill the bad people.

Karma is very misunderstood. Feces occurs. Innocent people get caught in the middle and die.

If an arrogant dumbass like me can learn life's little lessons, how stupid is Kerry that he has not.

Michele, you're the voice of reason. The real problem with Kerry is what he's saying now and even if some of that's consistant with what he said in the 70's people aren't going to listen if you talk about the 70's.

As Perot might say, "That dog won't hunt."

I don't think your youthful activities would necessarily disqualify you from elected office, Michele. However, after reading the "I'll haunt you forever" post, I have to think that your kids wouldn't be voting for you. And that looks bad to the electorate ;)

Kerry said the soldiers who served were the criminals. He could have just laid it on Johnson and Nixon. But he didn't stop there.

That is very wrong.

If that photo is the best the right can do, then Laura Bush ought to call the movers now.

"I don't know exactly why, but your comment has made me feel very resentful." - Michelle

grin Funny, being patted on the head and told "Good doggie" always has that effect on me, too.

Even if there might be a grain of truth - that "you're too young for this to matter to you like it does to thems of us who were here before dirt, so don't worry about it" is just condescending as all hell.

crap Half awake - hit [Send] too fast by accident.

That masked poster just above was me.

- Ironbear

Kerry's actions both in Vietnam and as an anti war activitist speak volumes about his lack of integrity. As a vet people should know more about this war hero. He didn't even spend three days in a hospital for his three war wounds. He won a silver star for killing a wounded man who couldn't defend himself. Hero?

But it is his record as a senator that demonstrates exactly how corrupt a man he is. Can anyone name one weapons system he supported or any increase in funding for intelligence or national security that he supported. While I realize Massachusetts is a radical place one should remember as goes Massachusetts so goes the District of Columbia.

Kerry needs Hillary assuming that Sharpton is too busy burning out jewish owned stores to run as VP.

I'm not a Kerry supporter, but strictly terms of character, Bush fans would do well to rememember that for most of his life, Dubya was a dissipated, ne'er-do-well rich kid who accomplished very little on his own merits, relying on daddy to grease the skids for him over and over again.

I strongly disagree, but you can make a viable argument that Bush has done a good job as President. The last thing you want to talk about is how the guy spent his time at Yale, or in the National Guard.

Regarding his earlier, wilder days, I'm sure President Bush would be the first one to tell you, "Yes, I was stupid and spoiled, and fortunately I grew up." I think I remember reading something from him to this effect.

I have yet to hear John Kerry repudiate ONE THING about his Vietnam protester past. If he had just come forward and said "I was a jerk," I could forgive him. But I can only conclude that, in some way, he still believes in The Cause, in which case he won't be getting any respect from me. And his record as a senator certainly bears this out. So long as he continues to insist on making his Vietnam vet status a campaign plank, the rest of his actions in those bygone days are up for scrutiny as well.

If going out on ING status, or if missing drills and making them up later makes someone a deserter, or AWOL, then those titles would belong to my husband.

In 12 years of Guard/Reserves my husband has missed drills for reasons that varied from our wedding day, to going to a family reunion. He made the time up at a later date. End of story.

As for ING status (inactive guard) At one time, my husbands civilian job required him to be on the road from 20 -25 days per month, he requested to be put on ING status for a year, and the request was granted. End of story.

Now if you would like to call my husband a deserter or accuse him of being AWOL for either of those items, you can find him at
FtMcCoy training to deploy to Afghanistan.

I doubt he, or the US Army would agree with your characterization.

The ultimate question you raise is the central one - however, since none of us posses a crystal ball of impeccable clarity, the only thing we have to go on is the record so far.

I don't think people are shying away from answering questions about Bush's guard service - but they aren't willing to be led into an endless 'but WHY is the sky blue' cycle over the issue.

The biggest difference between your experience, Bush's experiences, and Kerry's experiences is that in the first two cases, you look back and realize that some of the things you did, while seeming 'ok' at the time, aren't what the person that exists today would do.

Somehow, I get the impression that Kerry would do it all over again, and not change a thing.

That - that is the difference.

John Kerry EARNED the right to say whatever he cared to about Vietnam - whether pro-war folks like it or not.

Yes, the way we we treated our Vietnam veterans was a terrible disgrace that we will hopefully never repeat. However, no amount of historical revisionism can change the fact that the Vietnam War was an ill-conceived, poorly executed disaster.

No act gave Kerry the right to slander other veterans of that conflict in official fora using phony testimony.

It's not what he did, it's how he did it.

" However, no amount of historical revisionism can change the fact that the Vietnam War was an ill-conceived, poorly executed disaster." - MIKER

It can't? (00) Or is it your interpretation of it that's the historical revisionism? ;]

As Lileks says, I want to know what Kerry thinks now of what he said then. Does he still believe it? (Presuming he believed it then.)
That would be interesting to know.