Our presidential candidates lie to us and each other. This shouldn’t be news to us, but it seems to be. We could blame any number of sources, but for today, let’s just examine the facts. Right now the news of most prominence is that Kerry’s lies, most likely examined in light of news such as Barnes and Noble’s claim that demand is far outpacing supply of the Kerry-critical book Unfit for Command, which accuses Kerry of distorting his military record. It has sold out in less than 13 days.
John Kerry’s own wartime journal is raising questions about whether he deserved the first of three Purple Hearts, which permitted him to go home after 4.5 months of combat.
A primary claim against Mr. Kerry by the Swift Boat Veterans is that Mr. Kerry’s first Purple Heart “awarded for action on Dec. 2, 1968” did not involve the enemy and that Mr. Kerry’s wounds that day were unintentionally self-inflicted.
They charge that in the confusion involving unarmed, fleeing Viet Cong, Mr. Kerry fired a grenade, which detonated nearby and splattered his arm with hot metal.
Mr. Kerry has claimed that he faced his “first intense combat” that day, returned fire, and received his “first combat related injury.”
A journal entry Mr. Kerry wrote Dec. 11, however, raises questions about what really happened nine days earlier.
“A cocky feeling of invincibility accompanied us up the Long Tau shipping channel because we hadn’t been shot at yet, and Americans at war who haven’t been shot at are allowed to be cocky,” wrote Mr. Kerry, according the book “Tour of Duty” by friendly biographer Douglas Brinkley.
If enemy fire was not involved in that or any other incident, according to the Military Order of the Purple Heart, no medal should be awarded.
Notwithstanding the controversy over Bush’s Air National Guard service (or dereliction of duty), there was another instance when Bush misrepresented his military record. In 1978, Bush, while running for Congress in West Texas, produced campaign literature that claimed he had served in the US Air Force. According to a 1999 Associated Press report, Bush’s congressional campaign ran a pullout ad in the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal that declared he had served “in the US Air Force and the Texas Air National Guard where he piloted the F-102 aircraft.”
Bush lost that congressional race, but twenty-one years later, the AP questioned him about the ad. The news outlet had a good reason to do so. Bush had never served in the Air Force. He had only been in the Air National Guard. But when AP asked Bush if he had been justified in claiming service in the Air Force, Bush, then the governor of Texas and a presidential candidate, said, “I think so, yes. I was in the Air Force for over 600 days.”
Karen Hughes, his spokeswoman, maintained that when Bush attended flight school for the Air National Guard from 1968 to 1969 he was considered to be on active duty for the Air Force and that several times afterward he had been placed on alert, which also qualified as active duty for the Air Force. All told, she said, Bush had logged 607 days of training and alerts. “As an officer [in the Air National Guard],” she told the AP, “he was serving on active duty in the Air Force.”
The Air Forces says that “Air National Guard members are considered ‘guardsmen on active duty’ while receiving pilot training. They are not, however, counted as members of the overall active-duty Air Force.”
Its an experiment you can try at home. Call your local Air Force recruitment office and ask them if a Air Guardsman is considered an Air Force Member. My money says no.
I would make a public call for our candidates to get back to debating the issues instead of trashing each other’s names, but I think we are all aware that this will never happen. First of all, our country has a strong contingency of Jerry Springer clones in our cable network news. Secondly, it is oh-so-much easier to pander to the lowest common denominator in society.
More importantly, they don’t want the people examine these simple facts: both major party candidates have serious skeletons hiding in their closets, both major party candidates have nearly identical histories and stances on the issues, and both cadidates are deeply entrenched in the same subculture of elitism and big business.
Simply put, we are stuck with the choice of the same side of two different coins.