Who’s a War Hero? It Can’t be a Liberal!

When

you celebrate an author, i.e., Ann Coulter, who asserts that anyone to the left

of Ronald Reagan has been, is and will continue to be a traitor, you are

perplexed by this John Kerry fellow. He is, after all, a liberal Democrat from

that breeding ground of treachery, Massachusetts. He is from an elite

background, so you know what that means: He is out of touch with the decent,

flag-waving people of the American heartland. For God’s sake, the man speaks French!

Where did he learn that? In some commie-sympathizing cell in Cambridge, no

doubt.

Here’s

the problem: John Kerry, as we can’t help but know, is a Vietnam veteran. More

than that, he is a legitimate war hero, winner of the Bronze Star. But wait,

there’s more: He was wounded three times and so was awarded three Purple

Hearts.

This

is a pretty impressive record of achievement, especially for a liberal

Democratic traitor from Massachusetts. It calls to mind some other liberal

Democratic traitors who tried to fool us by risking their lives in combat.

George McGovern-a man whose very name stands for Ms. Coulter’s idea of

treachery-survived 35 missions over Nazi-occupied Europe as a B-24 bomber

pilot. Harry S. Truman was an artillery officer in France during World War I.

Lyndon Johnson, father of the wretchedly liberal Great Society, won a Silver

Star for his service in the South Pacific. And then there was that skinny P.T.

boat officer from Massachusetts. He did a bit of service during World War II,

as you may have heard.

In

the world of Ms. Coulter and her readers, these men are villains, not heroes;

traitors, not patriots. So when yet another liberal Democrat shows up on the

national stage bearing a chest full of medals, it is hardly surprising to learn

that some people just don’t know what to think. Turning to their radios,

cable-television shows and journals for instructions, they find certain answers

to their troubling questions.

John

Kerry, liberal Democrat from Massachusetts, didn’t deserve all those Purple

Hearts. Yep-somehow this ambitious traitor figured out a way to scratch himself

up a little and get some bleeding heart to give him an undeserved Purple Heart.

Whoever signed the commendation no doubt soon will be exposed as a secret

Democratic operative, just like those tiresome 9/11 widows from New Jersey who

have the nerve to question the wisdom of the current administration.

This

is the state of debate in 2004: John Kerry’s campaign felt obliged to release

his medical records to support his right to three Purple Hearts in Vietnam.

This came after another officer claimed that one of them wasn’t deserved. The

complaint was picked up in the right-wing media, and so a controversy was born.

You see, said Mr. Kerry’s critics, you can’t trust a liberal Democratic traitor

with a chest full of medals. Those decorations most likely are frauds.

Political

strategy is not my strong suit, but I wonder if this is the best tactic that

President Bush’s supporters should take. Aligned as they are with a man who risked

his life in the air over Texas while Mr. Kerry fought in Vietnam, complaints

that the Senator doesn’t deserve one of his three Purple Hearts sounds, well, a

little less than gracious.

When Presidential campaigns were fought between members

of the G.I. generation from World War II, few questioned the military-service

bona fides of another, even when one of those G.I.’s, Ronald Reagan, performed

less-than-arduous service in the Hollywood theater of operations. With

Vietnam-generation boomers in charge now, however, the old code of conduct

doesn’t apply. Questioning what an opponent did in the war is fair game.

And

that, wouldn’t you know, ought to favor Democrats.

Since

the torch was passed to the boomers in 1992, four men who wore a uniform during

Vietnam War have been nominated (or are about to be nominated) for national

office. All four hailed from privileged families, which is a way of saying that

they might have found a way to avoid service at all.

Two

of them joined the National Guard-Dan Quayle and George W. Bush. They are

Republicans. They stayed at home.

Two

of them served in Vietnam-John Kerry and Al Gore. They are Democrats. True, Mr.

Gore wasn’t exactly slogging through the Mekong Delta, but he was there,

stationed outside Saigon with the 20th Engineers Brigade, and he didn’t have to

be. Suffice to say, it would have been safer to put on a uniform in Texas and

Indiana.

Does

any of this matter? It shouldn’t, unless you believe that only Republicans or

only conservatives have the nation’s best interests at heart, and that

Democrats or liberals hate America and are, in Ms. Coulter’s formulation,

traitors.

Unfortunately,

that’s precisely the sort of thing we seem to be arguing about in 2004.