Politics is a funny game. GWB, who is a person whom I honestly detest, went from an being an inept stock manipulator (just ask the SEC) to Governor of Texas, where his record, or whatever one calls it, was less then stellar. He falsified his education record there so he could run as a reformer, and was better known for executing mentally deficit criminals. In fact he appointed his State education director to the cabinet and from what I understand our progress has been nil. But “let no child be left behind” is a great under-funded tag line. Then after one of the most lackluster 7.5 months in office, where he took 41 days of vacation, the disaster of 9/11 struck. All of a sudden this do-nothing was catapulted into the roll of “great war leader.” Well he ain't! He's horrible and getting worse.
Most Vietnam Vets, the vast majority of the 6 million are pretty normal, but there are many that are not. Kerry's record became an issue because of the Bush bashing! So the Kerry people, knowing and understanding how to counter-punch have played his war experiences up in the way JFK's were promoted. But, be that as it may, one day or one year in combat is unique to normal life and existence. Does it qualify someone for leadership or the Presidency? No! But it does allow an insightful perspective many of us don't have.
For me it comes down to brains, flexibility, good ideas, leadership and vision, of which I believe George Bush has none. Woodrow Wilson, a scholar, a professor, a writer, an intellect, and a reforming President of Princeton was not a warrior or one to engage in bellicosity. His great opponent, by his choice not Wilson's was Teddy Roosevelt. TR another intellect, let his bellicosity reign supreme. That is why he failed with his war-like sons and that is why the country did not really want to trust him during the Great War. Whether this other “vet” who generally votes Democratic wishes to fear the future enough to trust it to GW Bush, is of no concern to me. The Democrats generally are just as American as the next guy, and are certainly capable of doing the job correctly. Does anyone believe that anyone could be as inept as GW Bush, or the next leader would just “cut and run” as Nixon did in Vietnam? Nixon supported the pro-colonial wars around the world, and certainly favored our war in Indo-China. He was always accusing the Democrats of being weak and soft on Communism. But JFK sort of trumped his red-baiting card with the meaningless issue of Quemoy and Matzu. Nixon blamed Truman for losing China, but it was Chiang's conservative friends in Congress that were sucker-punched by his corruption and ineptness after WWII. In fact, both Eisenhower and Nixon were “cut and run” pragmatists in Korea, Hungary, East Germany, Egypt and Vietnam. They were able to live with the reality of coexistence with the aggressors. In other words, thet favored containment over overt confrontation. It was Nixon who accused Stevenson of being too tolerant of Red China in his desire to recognize them. Of course, Nixon, the ever pragmatic cold warrior, reached out to both the Soviets and the PRC when it was politically convenient. Maybe greater and earlier flexibility with the Chinese would have widened their rift with the Soviets and therefore possibly avoided the tragedy of Vietnam. But all in all, all this is long past. Today I would not compare this war on terror with the Cold War threat of 50,000 nuclear bombs aimed at us. It is an ongoing problem that is difficult, and GW Bush's skills are not up to the task. It will take more than an unending bloodbath in Iraq to quell this problem. Read my printing of Haim Harari's column about the Arab-Islamic world's self destructiveness. Creating a stable government in Iraq is a noble end in itself, but the real problem is all over the Moslem and especially the Moslem Arab world. Recent polls show us at a 10% popularity all over this Arab world. Can Bush ever reverse this mind-set of hatred and fear? I fear not!