Am I getting this right? Bush and his Republicans are actually tearing at John Kerry because he didn't suffer enough in Vietnam? Master Bob Dole actually pooh-poohed Kerry's decorations because he didn't bleed enough? Master George Bush actually said that it wasn't a bullet that wounded Kerry, only shrapnel, and thus it couldn't have been a serious wound?
I'm rubbing my eyes in disbelief, reading all this. I mean, I'm used to sleazy political tactics from the Republicans -- these are the people, after all, who made Willie Horton a household name while destroying not just Mike Dukakis's Presidential campaign, but also his political career. That effort was so dirty that the man who thought it up, Lee Atwater, actually issued a public apology to Dukakis before he (Atwater) died.
But that was in the time of Father Bush. Today, Bush and Karl Rove think nothing of having a man who evaded going to Vietnam altogether -- Bush -- scorn a man who did go, did fight, did shoot and get shot at, did get wounded and did get awarded multiple decorations. That's three Purple Hearts for wounds suffered, a Bronze Star and the Silver Star for gallantry in action. Bush's acolytes are actually implying that some of those wounds were self-inflicted. And anyway, they were all only "slight" wounds (see, for one example of this frantic rush to belittle Kerry's wounds, this page).
So cynical is this gang, they are even running around the RNC in NYC handing out little fake Purple Hearts for all to wear.
I wonder as do many others horrified by this, what does that say about soldiers in Bush's own war venture -- Iraq -- who have been awarded Purple Hearts? Nearly 4000 so far (see, for example, William Rivers Pitt writing here).
How did those 4000 soldiers get them? By being actually wounded? Or by being only slightly wounded? Or by being wounded by shrapnel and not bullets? Or from a minor Republican functionary roaming the floor of Madison Square Garden? Or by evading the war altogether?
In one of the finest war memoirs I've ever read, "With The Old Breed", Eugene Sledge describes some truly horrifying stories of brutality from the Pacific in WW2. After a wrenching account of depravity from one of his fellow US Marines, he writes: "Replete with violence, shock, blood, gore and suffering, this was the type of incident that should be witnessed by anyone who has any delusions about the glory of war."
Watching the antics of Republicans desperate to re-elect Master Bush, I feel tempted to add: the sleaze they are making of war service should destroy any remaining delusions about this talk of glory.