I Just Don't Care
By John D. Turner
16 Sep 2004

You know, this might sound a bit strange, coming from an admitted conservative who mostly votes Republican, but I really don’t give a flip about John Kerry’s war record. And I am tired of hearing about it.

It’s possible that John Kerry really didn’t “deserve” all of the three Purple Hearts he was awarded. So what? He has them, no one is going to take them away, and it’s all water under the bridge anyhow. He wouldn’t be the first person awarded a Purple Heart for relatively minor wounds suffered under questionable circumstances, and he won’t be the last.

I have heard stories (probably apocryphal), about individuals being awarded a Purple Heart for picking up the clap from what was later determined to be a VC prostitute. It’s true that some people are awarded Purple Hearts for some really gruesome injuries that they carry around with them for the rest of their lives. On the other hand, some received Purple Hearts for much less. There is no specific criteria for how bad a wound has to be to receive one, only that it occurred as a result of combat, or contact with the enemy (in the case of the VC prostitute, an irregular, deliberately infected, to pass the disease along to U.S. troops).

There is even a provision in the official criteria for awarding the Purple Heart allowing an individual to put themselves in for the award.

I also do not have any problem with Kerry’s award of the Silver and Bronze Star. It is not up to us, 35 years later, to play Monday morning quarterback and decide whether or not he should have received them. Those of us who have been in the military have most likely seen individuals receive decorations that probably did not deserve them. And all of us have seen medal write-ups that have been so embellished that they bear little resemblance to reality.

And typically, officers receive higher level decorations than an enlisted person would receive for the same event. It may not seem “fair”, but it is certainly true.

So I really don’t care too much about Kerry’s medals, insofar as how he received them. I do care about what he did with them afterward (or what he said he did, or what was reported that he did or said he did). And I also care about what he did after he returned home from Vietnam and left the Naval Reserve. But these are different issues, for a different article.

Likewise, I really don’t care too much about what George Bush may or may not have done towards the end of his time in the Texas Air National Guard. My vote for (or against) George Bush has nothing to do with whether or not he joined the Guard to get out of going to Vietnam. As a former draft-dodging Chief Executive once said (supported at the time by someone who looked very much like Senator Kerry, but may have been a different iteration of himself), that was a long time ago and is no longer relevant. It’s time to move on.

So I am officially tired of all the bickering about who did what during Vietnam. Who cares? In case everyone has forgotten, we are currently fighting the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT), not Vietnam.

Has everyone forgotten al’Qaida? The 3000 dead and destruction of the World Trade Center? Khobar Towers? Or how about all those kids and others who were snuffed out in Russia recently? Or if that is too far in the past for you, how about all the Iraqi’s killed just last week in terrorist attacks?

With all that is going on around us, is the best that John Kerry can do to boast about his 4 months of service in Vietnam 35 years ago and berate Mr. Bush for having served in the Guard? In case no one has noticed, while Mr. Kerry aspires to be the Commander in Chief, Mr. Bush has held that post for the past three and a half years. You may have disagreements concerning what he has done in that position, but to pretend that he is running for his first term of office instead of his second is disingenuous.

How about this instead?

Mr. Bush. What do you plan to do during your second term, and how do you plan to accomplish it?

Mr. Kerry. If elected, what do you plan to do, and how do you plan to accomplish it?

For each of you, what is your vision for the future of America? How do you plan to fight the war on terror? (And Mr. Kerry, simply saying that you plan to win it conveys no meaningful or useful information.)

Mr. Bush, you say you want to eliminate the IRS and move to a consumption tax. How do you plan to accomplish this? Do you have anyone in mind to head up such an initiative? How will you build Congressional support, particularly given that the IRS is unlikely to just sit back and allow itself to be dismantled.

Mr. Kerry, you have assailed Mr. Bush for spending too much, yet you have proposed a plethora of new spending. How do you plan to pay for it? Note: eliminating the Bush tax cuts will be insufficient. What are the specific tax increases you plan to initiate?

Mr. Kerry, when Mr. Bush proposed increasing the NASA budget, with an eye to eventually putting astronauts on Mars, you poo-pooed the idea, stating that it would cost too much, and that we have too many problems we need to fix on Earth first. What is your vision for this country as far as space is concerned?

Mr. Bush, you are supposedly a proponent of smaller government. Yet, under your hand, government has grown immensely. What happened? How would you reverse this trend during a second term of office? Will you even try? (And don’t try and blame it all on 9-11 and the GWOT. Most of your spending has little or nothing to do with those events.)

Mr. Kerry, how will you prosecute the war on terror? We have seen how Mr. Bush has done it, what would you do? Note: “I would get our allies to help” is not a sufficient response. We tried that the last time. Do you mean that you would refuse to act without a “mother may I” from the U.N. or France? You do realize, I hope, that even if you get “buy in” from the U.N. and our somewhat unwilling “allies”, that the bulk of troops will still come from the U.S.? It has always been that way, and will continue to be so.

Mr. Kerry, since you believe it to be the President’s job to find jobs for Americans (I would tend to disagree with this personally), and it is your contention that Mr. Bush is doing a poor job of it (he does have a bit on his plate, you know), what will you do during your administration to improve the jobs picture for all of us? Without spending a lot of money the government does not have (and is not empowered by the Constitution to spend anyway), and without imposing additional unfunded mandates on the states and private businesses?

Mr. Bush, you say that you want to revamp Social Security by privatizing it. While I agree that this is a good idea, and that it is probably the only way to avoid massive tax hikes and benefit cuts in the future, exactly how do you propose to do so while at the same time: fighting the war on terror (and simultaneously restructuring the military from a Cold-War based force to a force based on netrocentric warfare), eliminating the income tax and instituting a consumption tax, and planning and laying the groundwork for a new space initiative including a future manned mission to Mars? Any one of these initiatives is large enough to be a single four year effort, and all of them are sure to require plenty of political capital to achieve. How do you plan to do all of them simultaneously?

Mr. Kerry, quit trying to be the pro-war anti-war candidate, and on all sides of every issue. It confuses people.

Mr. Bush, it’s ok to admit making a mistake. Most Americans are not infallible, and very few of us believe or expect that our elected officials are either. Dancing around issues, however, tends to make us suspicious.

And to both of you; sometimes there is no easy answer, or at least not one that can be uttered in a 15 second sound bite, be complete, and make sense. It’s ok to give more complex answers. Many of us out here are fully capable of understanding words of more than one syllable and paragraphs that last longer than 15 seconds. I know the media is going to chop and edit to make the news fit their paradigm. That’s a given. There are however other venues, and many of us are making use of them.

As far as the 527’s are concerned, you guys are the ones responsible. Mr. Kerry, you helped pass the legislation. Mr. Bush, you signed that unconstitutional piece of excrement into law because you were too squeamish to veto it as you properly should have. Neither of you have any excuse to complain about what is going on.

There are many questions that can be asked; questions vital to the future of our country, questions that are certainly of greater importance than who did what during the Vietnam War 35 years ago.

Mr Kerry, Mr. Bush, can we focus and stay on topic, please?