CBS's 60 Minutes presented documents the other night purporting to be memos written by George Bush's commanding officer in the National Guard and suggesting that, among other things, Bush had disobeyed direct orders. Now it turns out that the consensus among documentarians is that these particular documents are fraudulent. CBS is sticking to their story, however, so it'll be interesting to see how this plays out.
Thursday, September 9, 2004
Byron York has what should be the last word on Bush's National Guard service but doubtless won't be. You can read his column here. It's very informative.
Viewpoint would add to this (thereby guaranteeing that York's is not the last word)that there are several salient differences between Bush's service and Kerry's. The temptation, of course, is to forgive both men the misjudgments of their youth, but the Kerry campaign won't allow it. They insist on presenting Senator Kerry's war record as his chief qualification for the presidency, and, at the same time, they insist on attacking President Bush for alleged shortcomings in his role as a National Guard aviator.
Given that the Kerry campaign insists on the comparison, let's make it. George Bush has often said that he did things as a young man for which he's not proud and he has never claimed that the voters should elect him on the basis of his record in the National Guard.
Kerry has acknowledged doing things as a young soldier for which he should be ashamed but has repeatedly said that he's nevertheless proud of his service and advances that service as the chief reason why America should elect him president.
Given the difference in the attitudes of both men toward their checkered records it seems to us that basing one's vote for or against Kerry on his record is warranted, whereas it's not warranted in the case of Bush. Bush doesn't commend himself to us on the basis of his service, Kerry does. In Bush's case the temptation to forgive the distant past is appropriately yielded to. Kerry's position, however,is that the distant past should not be forgotten, so in his case we shouldn't forget it.
Moreover, Bush has publically acknowledged that Kerry's months in a combat zone deserve his respect and he grants it. For his part, Kerry has refused to return Bush's graciousness and has chosen instead to denigrate the President's service as a jet fighter pilot, an accomplishment that few men are capable of achieving, and which itself deserves respect.
Additionally, no member of Bush's campaign that I'm aware of has criticized Kerry for his tenure in Vietnam, yet the Democrats take every opportunity to criticize Bush for delinquencies, both real and imagined, in the early seventies.
Finally, Bush never turned on his comrades like Kerry did in 1971, while still an officer. Bush never accused his fellow soldiers of war crimes nor did he give aid and comfort to the enemy. What Kerry did is arguably treasonous, and it's a wonder that he's not been prosecuted for it.
If the Democrats want to use Bush's service record as a means to discredit him among the voters they may succeed, given the nature of the voting public, but the potential cost to Kerry seems quite high. The more they nitpick about Bush's spotty attendance at meetings the more they invite scrutiny of Kerry's admitted war crimes. Sean Hannity said the other day that Kerry's record of admitted offenses makes him unfit to be a guard at the Abu Ghraib prison much less commander-in-chief. He's suffered enough from the indignant Swiftvets over his record, he certainly doesn't need the Republican National Committee jumping on him, too.
Hugh Hewitt has posted a memo from Ed Gillespie the chairman of the RNC warning of an intense campaign to villify and personally destroy the president. The left has consistently demonstrated that it does not consider itself to be constrained by the normal standards of decency and is willing to say anything, no matter how despicable, in order to destroy its opponents. Gillespie's memo reminds us of the depths to which these people have already sunk:
These kinds of personal, ad hominem attacks are a symptom of souls wallowing in bitterness, spite, envy, and hatred, and are beneath contempt. How any decent person can join with those for whom such cruel and hurtful words come so easily, and support a candidate who condones them, is beyond comprehension.