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Gallup reports that most American's don't know or don't care about "questions raised about George W. Bush's National Guard service". Expect a few pundits to declare that a failure of a Democratic strategy. Perhaps it is.
Or perhaps not. It's a failure unless the object was to get all questions of military service off the table. I'll maintain that's exactly the point. In reality, Bush's service was rather unremarkable, except for the fact that he served at all, and that his service was certainly not in a "cushy job".
And if eliminating the question was the desire, then the ploy was a success. American's don't care. In fact, one possible interpretation of the results would be that Americans will get very tired of hearing about anyone's service very soon.
But another result of the poll says that
Still, there are lingering doubts about Bush's military service more generally. The public is divided as to whether the characteristic or quality, "did his duty for the country during the Vietnam War," applies to Bush: 42% say the statement applies to Bush and 40% say the statement does not apply to him (18% have no opinion). In contrast, 68% say that characteristic or quality applies to Kerry, with 11% saying it does not and 21% not expressing an opinion.
Kerry's wartime activities are unknown to many Americans -- less than half (49%) have heard a great deal or moderate amount about his combat experience in Vietnam. Even fewer, 39%, have heard much about Kerry's anti-war activities after he returned from Vietnam.
So although less than half know anything about Kerry's service, 70% characterize him as having "done his bit".
So, a failed strategy? Hardly. Because it's Kerry's service that bears a bit more scrutiny (though as previously stated, everyone's tired of hearing about that now aren't they?)
I'll rephrase and expand an as-yet unanswered question asked earlier:
Although fully trained and completely fit for duty, Kerry abandoned his command (within the rules) after less then four months, leaving his men to adapt to a new situation at the height of the war. Are there any other examples that any one is aware of where officers took similar actions during the Vietnam war? Or any other conflict?
I maintain that Kerry's choice to "cut and run" with his three purple hearts was a rare event, and not indicative of the mindset of officers then, now, or ever. I've never heard of such a thing, and I have nearly 20 years of active duty and a family with well over a century of service in every branch of the military from 1942 to now. I could be wrong; if this sort of thing were common it could explain a lot of setbacks America sustained during the conflict.
I am aware of one comparison. The officers of the Iraqi army were said to have abandoned their men at the front (they "pulled a Kerry", if you will) prior to onset of ground operations in Desert Storm. This action is cited as a significant reason why the ground war was over before it started.
The Bush team, however, will choose other avenues to illustrate the many failures of John F. Kerry, to include his subsequent anti-war actions. Expect Kerry's handlers to scream "dirty tricks" at this use of their man's actual record:
"The beauty of John Kerry is 32 years of votes and public pronouncements," said Mark McKinnon, the (Bush campaign) chief media adviser. McKinnon suggested a possible tag line: "He's been wrong for 32 years, he's wrong now."
Indeed, but for now our question is this: "Were Kerry's actions in abandoning his command rare or common among American officers in time of war?
Comments are open.
Update: The screaming has begun. And though Bush & co have yet to "attack" Kerry on his actions during or immediately after Vietnam the Dems are insisting that he is. And don't miss this entry at Wizbang.
I agree with you. Did you notice that Kerry is now accusing Bush of bring up the war service affairs? Now that it has blown up in his face. It's only going to get worse. As you say, most people never heard about Kerry's Hanoi Jane act and him denouncing American soldiers as "rapists and murderers", but talk radio is broadcasting this forgotten history and soon everybody will know Kerry is a Creep.Posted by Ricky Vandal at February 20, 2004 11:21 PM
Maybe Kerry said to the "Band of Brothers" while on his way to the dock 'Hey, don't worry, I'm not ditching you, I'm just going home to stop the war on your behalf!"
Riiiight...Posted by Dan Searles at February 20, 2004 11:48 PM
There is hope. A linked story on Instapundit showed turnout for the Democrats in the primary has been very low. There "stay home votes" (none of the above) probably have significant meanings, especially since Wisconsin is a heavily Democratic state.Posted by Gunther at February 21, 2004 12:52 AM
If Cut N Run Kerry gets elected, the Iraqis are screwed.Posted by Jane at February 21, 2004 04:08 AM
...and so are we.Posted by Jim - Parkway Rest Stop at February 21, 2004 10:06 AM
I would like to know precisely how many across all ranks and services took advantage of the '3 Purple Hearts and home' program during the entire Vietnam conflict. I'd bet the number is extremely small.Posted by recon at February 22, 2004 07:26 PM
I think I have come up with a campaign slogan for Kerry: "ASK WHAT YOU CAN DO FOR YOUR ENEMY!"
I don't know why your blog is blocked by SonicWALL, but it is. Here's my post on the subject:Eric Scheie at February 23, 2004 05:24 AM Hide Comments | Show/Add Comments in Popup Window(7) | (Note: You must refresh main page to view newly posted comments here)