Take Back Kerry's Medals!!

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To: Website Fans, Browsers, Clients
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Then Give Them Back

One of the things I learned this year about Sen. John Kerry that
I never knew before is that he was awarded a Silver Star, a Bronze
Star, and three Purple Hearts for his performance in combat during
the Vietnam War. I knew he was a decorated veteran who returned
from action to become a youthful leader in the antiwar movement,
but until he came into focus as the likely Democratic presidential
nominee I did not bother to look into the details. Like most Americans
who watched the Democratic National Convention in Boston last month,
my first impression of the extent of his heroism came as his Swift
Boat mates stood up for him and recounted his bravery under fire.
The news did not make him u201Cpresidentialu201D in my mind, but it certainly
helped, just as I gave points to Republican Senator Bob Dole for
the decoration he received for rescuing a mate under fire on a WWII
battlefield. Evidence of u201CLeadershipu201D does not require that kind
of selfless bravery. If it did, Ronald Reagan would not have been
the superb leader he was in his eight years as President, and Bill
Clinton would not have excelled in his eight. We assume they would
have done as much under fire, but they never confronted that situation
on a battlefield.

Now there is this huge controversy about whether or not Kerry really
earned his decorations. Several u201Canti-Kerry veteransu201D who served
with him in Vietnam, although not in the same unit, have challenged
the decorations. They insist he got his Purple Hearts for mere u201Cscratchesu201D
and his Silver and Bronze stars for routine actions that involved
no bravery. When I read their accusations, I was dubious on the
grounds that Kerry could not have fooled enough people to warrant
the five medals. One or two, maybe, but five? Still, I waited to
hear the issue played out, trusting the news media to get it straight.
It is now clear to me that even if Kerry was awarded no medals for
his Vietnam conduct, his performance was admirable. In reading through
the press accounts that have surfaced in these last few days, I
concluded that Kerry is a genuine war hero. I also thought those
Americans who have mentally stripped him of his decorations based
on the allegations raised by the anti-Kerry votes should mentally
give them back to him.

The most thorough account is by Michael Dobbs in today's The
Washington Post, u201CSwift
Boat Accounts Incomplete
.u201D One of the most scrupulous reporters
in the national press corps, Dobbs says there are still a few questions
open, which could be easily cleared by Kerry, who was not interviewed
for the article. The facts in Dobbs account, though, should leave
no doubt that Kerry deserves the medals he got. I was frankly astonished
that Bob Dole, who appeared today on Late Edition with Wolf
Blitzer, seemed so mean-spirited in suggesting that Kerry was not
all that heroic. The clincher on Kerry’s behalf, though, came from
the Chicago Tribune editor who served with Kerry and confirms
the account of the episode that produced Kerry's silver star. You
can read the
NYTimes account

What's going on here, bottom line? It seems pretty clear that the
Bush team, which has been pulling the strings on the campaign against
Kerry's heroism in uniform, really intends to focus on Kerry's anti-war
activities after he took off his uniform. In her NYTimes
column today, Maureen Dowd is on the mark in her observation: u201CThe
White House must tear down his heroism before it can tear down his

24, 2004

Wanniski [send him mail]
runs the financial/political advisory service Wanniski.com.
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