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Medals Don't Make a President
Time Magazine On Line ^ | Febrary 16, 2004 | Charles Krauthammer

Posted on 02/19/2004 5:34:50 PM PST by John W

Edited on 02/19/2004 6:56:55 PM PST by Admin Moderator. [history]

Monday, Feb. 16, 2004
In the middle of a war — or is it a war? — almost an entire Presidential briefing is taken up with the question of how many times a 26-year-old George W. Bush showed up in Alabama for National Guard duty more than 30 years ago.

Crazy. There is not the slightest doubt that if, say, John Edwards were the Democratic front runner, the issue would be considered an irrelevance. Indeed, during the months when Howard Dean was the front runner, it never came up. It comes up now only because the Democrats have providentially made John Kerry, war hero, their presumptive nominee.

For 2 1/2 years since 9/11, the Democrats have been adrift on national security. With Kerry, they have finally stumbled their way onto an answer: "We still have no answer, but we have a man with an unimpeachable military record. What have you got?"

The Democrats want to make the issue one of biography. It is, after all, no contest. Kerry has his Vietnam medals; Bush can barely produce his National Guard pay stubs.

Two years ago, biography was not enough. The Democrats got slaughtered in that election campaign because the President had a plan for the post-Sept. 11 world — a forward strategy of war abroad and homeland-security reorganization at home — and the Democrats had nothing.

Democratic Senator Max Cleland, another genuine war hero, was defeated in Georgia after he and other Senate Democrats had held up the establishment of the Homeland Security Department because of union rules. Democrats bitterly complained that Cleland's patriotism had been questioned. But it was not a matter of patriotism; it was a matter of seriousness: when crazed jihadists are flying airplanes into American buildings, the usual rules — including union rules — are suspended.

The Democrats simply did not understand that. They lost big. In 2002, past heroism was not enough. In 2004, it might just be. Why? Because Sept. 11 is fading.

The memory is still present enough in the national consciousness that the country demands someone minimally serious about national security. Dean collapsed because when people took a close look at him, he failed the midnight, red-phone, finger-on-the-button test. But the memory of Sept. 11 is now distant enough that, unlike in 2002, biography alone might be enough to meet the "seriousness" test.

Lucky for the Democrats. It is hard to see what Kerry has to offer beyond biography. The issue of our time is the war on terrorism. Bush's strategy throws out the old playbook on terrorism — the cops-and-robbers, law-and-order strategy of arrest and trial followed by complacency — and takes the war to the enemy. Kerry says terrorism is "primarily an intelligence and law-enforcement operation" — precisely the misconception that had us waking up on Sept. 12 realizing that while the enemy was preparing for war, we were preparing legal briefs for grand juries.

And where did Kerry stand on the most critical national-security questions of the past two decades? In 1991 he voted against the Gulf War, which he now says he was in favor of. Twelve years later, he voted in favor of the Iraq war, which he now tells us he was against. Then he voted against the $87 billion for reconstruction and troop support while telling us that of course he supports both the reconstruction and the troops.

War hero he is. But a man of so many pirouettes hardly inspires confidence as a resolute President. That should not surprise us. The very idea that national service, even heroic service, necessarily correlates with great presidential leadership is simply irrational. By that logic, Douglas MacArthur would have made a great President. By that logic, Ulysses S. Grant was a great President. (It's not just an American phenomenon: the most decorated veteran in Israel's history, Ehud Barak, was a disastrous Prime Minister.) Even more impressive is the fact that two of the greatest war Presidents in American history — Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt — had military backgrounds that make Bush's look distinguished: Lincoln, minimal (less than half a year of militia duty); Roosevelt, none.

Kerry tells his campaign audiences how, as a returning Vietnam vet, he stood up to the waste and carnage and injustice of what he calls "Nixon's war." All true, except for one inconvenient fact. The man who got us into Vietnam — committing what is arguably the most egregious presidential misjudgment of the 20th century — was not Nixon. It was Kerry's political hero, John F. Kennedy: Ivy League, U.S. Navy, decorated officer whose wartime valor propelled him to Massachusetts Senator and then Democratic candidate for President of the United States. Sound familiar? So much for biography.


TOPICS: Editorial; Foreign Affairs; Front Page News; Government; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: 2004; issues; kerry; kerryrecord; krauthammer; medals; militaryrecord
Charles Krauthammer writes a syndicated column for the Washington Post that appears in more than 125 newspapers worldwide. He writes an essay each month for TIME.

Please note,this is this month's essay from Time magazine.

1 posted on 02/19/2004 5:34:50 PM PST by John W
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Kerry has the medal, Bush has the mettle, and Clinton likes to meddle.
2 posted on 02/19/2004 5:43:33 PM PST by Consort
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To: Consort
And Kerry is stale, Bush is steel, and Clinton likes to steal.
3 posted on 02/19/2004 5:45:58 PM PST by Consort
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To: John W; Admin Moderator
Post needs to be chopped I can spell excerpted, from the verboten list.
4 posted on 02/19/2004 5:48:01 PM PST by dts32041 ( "Always make sure someone has a P-38.")
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To: dts32041
Please note,this is this month's essay from Time magazine.
5 posted on 02/19/2004 5:48:48 PM PST by John W
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To: John W
I'd look up and see how much of a "hero" Max Cleland is .... something about jumping out of a chopper to get some beers with buddies, dumping a grenade and as he picked it up it blew up.

He served, he got hurt, ..thank you, but if you come back and are a flaming tool for the lib Democratic scamming parasite machine... then screw yourself. Same goes for Kerry, both of them.... Bob Kerry and John Kerry.

I'd rather have a Republican flat foot, four eyed, pencil necked 4-F geek than a Democrat MOH winner. Doubt very seriously that MOH winner would be a democrat, but you never know.

of course that's only my opinion and I could be wrong..

6 posted on 02/19/2004 5:58:10 PM PST by Dick Vomer (liberals suck....but it depends on what your definition of the word "suck" is .)
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To: John W
Biography is important as an indicator of future behavior. We already have enough to go on with both men. One man has sworn he will fight, and his past performance backs that up. The other man has assured us he will not, and his bio does nothing to cast doubt on what he says.

That is the choice. Its really very simple.

Please note,this is this month's essay from Time magazine.

Thats interesting in itself.

7 posted on 02/19/2004 6:01:04 PM PST by marron
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To: John W
I just love Charles Krauthammer. Thanks for the post. I don't read Time.
8 posted on 02/19/2004 6:01:09 PM PST by Texagirl4W (If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all. - Isaiah 7:9)
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To: John W
The issue of our time is the war on terrorism.

Perhaps, but whatever you do, do NOT look behind the curtain.

9 posted on 02/19/2004 6:04:26 PM PST by budwiesest (Lost)
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To: Admin Moderator
Are his essays written exclusively for TIME magazine included in the requirement to be excerpted?
10 posted on 02/19/2004 6:05:37 PM PST by John W
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To: John W
In a less polite world, Krauthammer would note that Kerry's military record, while impressive-at-a-glance next to Bush's, isn't legendary. When Lurch graduated Yale, the old rules for "service" were still in effect. Many of his classmates were enlisting so he goes along. In a war known for rampant medal inflation he gets himself wih a self-reported, self-described Bronze Star, later upgraded to Silver for shooting a wounded VC. He also gets three purple hearts for superficial injuries. As soon as possible, he puts in for the traditional transfer out of combat after four months. He comes back and, putting finger to the wind, becomes a Fonda-nista. Having risked his life once, he presumably vows never to put his ass on the line again and becomes the proto-typical safe, "show" politician, never failing to cash in on his war exploits, (meanwhile, he developes a rep as an arrogant, snobbish braggart and consumate male gold-digger). By the way, in '68 when Bush graduates Yale, we are in the thick of Vietnam and nobody at Yale is volunteering any more.
11 posted on 02/19/2004 6:14:26 PM PST by Callahan
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To: John W
Krauthammer does make one glaring error; he claims that FDR had no military experience.

While FDR did not serve in uniform he was an Assistant Secretary of Navy from 1913 to 1920 (during the Great War). I think one would have to recognize that as significant military experience -- Still a very good column.

12 posted on 02/19/2004 6:18:29 PM PST by ellen_rometsch (Rather die on my feet than live on my knees)
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To: Dick Vomer
The Democrats are the party that NEEDS to run a "war hero" just to have an ounce of credibility on national security.
13 posted on 02/19/2004 6:19:02 PM PST by Callahan
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To: Consort
Kerry has the medal, Bush has the mettle, and Clinton likes to meddle.

The best of the three was (of course) the one in the middle.

Oy! I think I need a Midol.

14 posted on 02/19/2004 6:21:14 PM PST by irv
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To: John W
I'll double check and restore if appropriate
15 posted on 02/19/2004 6:41:03 PM PST by Admin Moderator
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To: John W
It appears that the articles written exclusively for Time are OK

16 posted on 02/19/2004 6:54:17 PM PST by Admin Moderator
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To: John W
--
Walt Plaue
----- Original Message -----
To: undisclosed-recipients:
Sent: Saturday, February 14, 2004 6:17 PM
Subject: John Kerry...You decide


Sent to me by an old shipmate....

I was in the Delta shortly after he left. I know that area well. I
know the operations he was involved in well. I know the tactics and the
doctrine used. I know the equipment. Although I was attached to
CTF-116 (PBRs) I spent a fair amount of time with CTF-115 (swift
boats), Kerry's command.

Here are my problems and suspicions:

(1) Kerry was in-country less than four months and collected, a Bronze
Star, a Silver Star and three purple hearts. I never heard of anybody
with any outfit I worked with (including SEAL One, the Sea Wolves,
Riverines and the River Patrol Force) collecting that much hardware so
fast, and for such pedestrian actions. The Swifts did a commendable job.
But that duty wasn't the worst you could draw. They operated only
along the coast and in the major rivers (Bassac and Mekong). The rough
stuff in the hot areas was mainly handled by the smaller, faster PBRs.

(2) Three Purple Hearts but no limp. All injuries so minor that no
time lost from duty. Amazing luck. Or he was putting himself in for
medals every time he bumped his head on the wheel house hatch? Combat
on the boats was almost always at close range. You didn't have minor
wounds. At least not often. Not three times in a row. Then he used
the three purple hearts to request a trip home eight months before the
end of his tour. Fishy.

(3) The details of the event for which he was given the Silver Star
make no sense at all. Supposedly, a B-40 was fired at the boat and
missed. Charlie jumps up with the launcher in his hand, the bow gunner
knocks him down with the twin .50, Kerry beaches the boat, jumps off,
shoots Charlie, and retreives the launcher. If true, he did everything
wrong.
(a) Standard procedure when you took rocket fire was to put your
stern to the action and go balls to the wall. A B-40 has the ballistic
integrity of a frisbie after about 25 yards, so you put 50 yards or so
between you and the beach and begin raking it with your .50's.
(b) Did you ever see anybody get knocked down with a .50 caliber
round and get up? The guy was dead or dying. The rocket launcher was
empty. There was no reason to go after him (except if you knew he was
no danger to you just flopping around in the dust during his last few
seconds on earth, and you wanted some derring do in your after-action
report). And we didn't shoot wounded people. We had rules against that,
too.
(c) Kerry got off the boat. This was a major breach of standing
procedures. Nobody on a boat crew ever got off a boat in a hot area.
EVER! The reason was simple. If you had somebody on the beach your
boat was defenseless. It coudn't run and it couldn' t return fire. It
was stupid and it put his crew in danger. He should have been relieved
and reprimanded. I never heard of any boat crewman ever leaving a boat
during or after a firefight.

Something is fishy.

Here we have a JFK wannabe (the guy Halsey wanted to court martial for
carelessly losing his boat and getting a couple people killed by running
across the bow of a Jap destroyer) who is hardly in Vietnam long enough
to get good tan, collects medals faster than Audie Murphy in a job where
lots of medals weren't common, gets sent home eight months early,
requests separation from active duty a few months after that so he can
run for Congress, finds out war heros don't sell well in Massachsetts in
1970 so reinvents himself as Jane Fonda, throws his ribbons in the dirt
with the cameras running to jump start his political career, gets
Stillborn Pell to invite him to address Congress and Bobby Kennedy's
speechwriter to do the heavy lifting, winds up in the Senate himself a
few years later, votes against every major defense bill, says the CIA is
irrelevant after the Wall came down, votes against the Gulf War, a big
mistake since that turned out well, decides not to make the same mistake
twice so votes for invading Iraq, but oops, that didn't turn out so well
so he now says he really didn't mean for Bush to go to war when he voted
to allow him to go to war.

I'm real glad you or I never had this guy covering out flanks in
Vietnam. I sure don't want him as Commander in Chief. I hope that
somebody from CTF-115 shows up with some facts challenging Kerry's
Vietnam record. I know in my gut it's wildy inflated. And fishy.

Keep smiling,

Mike
17 posted on 02/19/2004 7:12:20 PM PST by Lexington Green (... and a cavity search for every schoolchild.)
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To: ellen_rometsch
"Krauthammer does make one glaring error; he claims that FDR had no military experience. While FDR did not serve in uniform he was an Assistant Secretary of Navy from 1913 to 1920 (during the Great War). I think one would have to recognize that as significant military experience -- Still a very good column."

Actually I don't think he did make a glaring error. What he refers to is "national service" not military experience in the broader sense. So I think his analysis is accurate. On a scale of broad military experience, Bush (as a wartime president) would beat Kerry hands down and, hence, there would be no issue and no debate.

18 posted on 02/19/2004 7:28:19 PM PST by NilesJo
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To: Lexington Green
The rough stuff in the hot areas was mainly handled by the smaller, faster PBRs.

The really rough stuff in the Delta to Cambodia was handled by the guys the PBRs dropped off to patrol and picked upped a few days and nights later.... :)

19 posted on 02/19/2004 7:35:36 PM PST by joesnuffy (Moderate Islam Is For Dilettantes)
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To: joesnuffy
Especially those guys that didnt go back to air conditioned quarters, hot showers, hot chow, and clean sheets.....
20 posted on 02/19/2004 7:36:33 PM PST by joesnuffy (Moderate Islam Is For Dilettantes)
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To: John W
Kerry and his "medals:"

He got Purple Heart #1 for ______________?
(please fill in the blank....if you can)

He got Purple Heart #2 for _______________?
(please fill in the blank if you can)

He got Purple Heart #3 for_________________?
(please fill in the blank if you can)

Name one witness to the event that won Lt. Kerry a Silver Star_______________________________.
(please fill in the blank if you can)

Perhaps Mr. Kerry threw away his medals because he knew he didn't deserve them.

21 posted on 02/19/2004 7:52:18 PM PST by cookcounty (John Kerry's done more to damage the reputation of VN vets than any other living American.)
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To: John W
I think it would be very interesting to see who submitted the paperwork for Kerry's medals...
22 posted on 02/19/2004 8:05:03 PM PST by CommandoFrank (If GW is the terrorist's worst nightmare, Kerry is their wet dream...)
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To: Admin Moderator
Thanks,appreciate the effort.
23 posted on 02/19/2004 8:07:02 PM PST by John W
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To: Consort
Posts #2 & 3, BRAVO!!! Excellent fun!
24 posted on 02/19/2004 8:34:49 PM PST by harpo11 (Kerry doesn't need to address his roadmap for our future, he's been endorsed by Vote Moron Org.)
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To: CommandoFrank
("I think it would be very interesting to see who submitted the paperwork for Kerry's medals")

Very good question I wish I knew the answer too, but i'm sure that person wants to crawl under a rock right now.

So did Kerry just write these things up himself and have someone else submit them? If so what was to keep anyone from doing the same thing if they were as sleezy as Kerry.

25 posted on 02/19/2004 8:40:07 PM PST by GottaLuvAkitas1
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To: GottaLuvAkitas1
So did Kerry just write these things up himself and have someone else submit them?

Bingo... that's my guess!

26 posted on 02/19/2004 9:18:04 PM PST by CommandoFrank (If GW is the terrorist's worst nightmare, Kerry is their wet dream...)
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To: John W
Krauthammer bump for morning people.
27 posted on 02/20/2004 2:51:19 AM PST by John W
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To: NilesJo
Krauty's words:

Even more impressive is the fact that two of the greatest war Presidents in American history — Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt — had military backgrounds[emphasis mine] that make Bush's look distinguished: Lincoln, minimal (less than half a year of militia duty); Roosevelt, none.[emphasis mine]

I think one might have to concede that over six years (two wartime) as Assistant Secretary of the Navy constitutes a military background though it certainly is not service "in uniform" or as a combatant.

Krauty's fact-checker was asleep-at-the-wheel on this one.

28 posted on 02/20/2004 9:22:14 AM PST by ellen_rometsch (Rather die on my feet than live on my knees)
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To: CommandoFrank
I don't have a military background -- unless USO dances count.

Are records of how medals are awarded subject to public access (freedom of information act, etc.)?

29 posted on 02/20/2004 9:24:56 AM PST by ellen_rometsch (Rather die on my feet than live on my knees)
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To: ellen_rometsch
Are records of how medals are awarded subject to public access (freedom of information act, etc.)?

I do have a 20 year background in the military but cannont answer your question. I just don't know...

30 posted on 02/20/2004 12:40:35 PM PST by CommandoFrank (If GW is the terrorist's worst nightmare, Kerry is their wet dream...)
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To: John W
I was thinking we should all create our own little medals. Cut them out of cardboard, color them with crayons, write up a "citation to accompany the award of ", tape the medal to the citation, and mail them to Kerry. It might be good to send a copy to Rush so he's in on the fun. Remember - sarcasm is our friend. Example:

CITATION TO ACCOMPANY THE AWARD OF

The Purple Heart Attack

TO

John Forbes Kerry

In recognition of Mr. Kerrys ability to withstand the punch to the upper chest region administered by his wife Teresa Heinz-Kerry. This punch was in the line of duty as Senator and Husband upon learning of his philandering ways with interns on both his staff and staff girfriends.

Mr. Kerry was able do deflect criticism by media by complicity and hiding said intern out in Kenya.

Presented this day, by VRWC.


31 posted on 02/20/2004 12:56:45 PM PST by OrioleFan (Republicans believe every day is July 4th, DemocRATs believe every day is April 15th. - Reagan)
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To: ellen_rometsch
Krauty's preface to those words:

"The very idea that national service [bold emphasis mine], even heroic service, necessarily correlates with great presidential leadership is simply irrational."

The whole of his subsequent discussion springs forth from the above preface. You are being too literal.

32 posted on 02/20/2004 1:50:04 PM PST by NilesJo
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