Republicans are great at fighting the war... the Vietnam War
Tomorrow a bunch of Navy veterans led by partisan hack John O'Neill (a former law clerk for Chief Justice William Rehnquist) are going to present a letter saying that John Kerry is unfit to be Commander-in-Chief. Here's the story.
O'Neill has apparently been after Kerry for about 35 years, once debating him in 1971 on the Dick Cavett show. According to the Houston Chronicle, "President Nixon and top aide Charles Colson had taken a keen interest in O'Neill as part of their effort to discredit Kerry and the anti-war movement, according to memos and tapes in the National Archives. A clean-cut Naval Academy graduate, O'Neill was viewed by Nixon's team as an effective messenger against Kerry, who was causing the administration headaches as the leader of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War."
But forget the one-man crusade here for a second. This is the latest in a series of meaningless mini-scandals (throwing of medals, releasing of records, and now this) that show the Bush administration and his cadre running against the 1971 John Kerry rather than the 2004 version. Now, it can be argued that Kerry himself went into a time warp during the Democratic primary season, never missing an opportunity to have veterans at his side or use his Vietnam experience to answer a debate question. But recently, Kerry has become more substantive, leaving his biographical information where it should be, in the background. I thought his speech at Westminster College last Friday was brilliant, not only because he highlighted the need for international cooperation in Iraq, but because of his overall theme of regaining our moral importance around the globe. A quote:
"We must reclaim our country’s standing in the world by doing what has kept America safe and made it more secure before—leading in a way that brings others to us so that we are respected, not simply feared, around the globe."
That is clearly the way you bring about stability and safety in the world, not through endless cycles of violence and repression. I also thought it was brilliant that he said "If the President will take the needed steps to share the burden and make progress in Iraq – if he leads – then I will support him on this issue." First of all, we all know Bush won't do it, so offering the olive branch is all reward and no risk. It shows that Kerry is willing to lead by setting as the top priority the country, not politics. In response, we get endless attacks on a 30 year-old war record. Bush can only lead into the gutter of negative campaigning.
I think there's more to be said here, but work beckons. I'll update later.