Leading the headlines lately is the controversy over John Kerry's war record and a Republican commercial that questions whether the Democrat's actions in Vietnam were as heroic as portrayed. It reminds me of a similar campaign issue twelve years ago when George H.W. Bush questioned Bill Clinton's participation in demonstrations against the Vietnam War while a graduate student at Oxford. The similarity isn't just that both accusations came from Republican father and son presidents named George Bush. What's more important, I think, is that these ploys were and are sure signs of the GOP getting desperate.
Unless there is a major terrorist event conveniently timed to happen just before the presidential election (and I wouldn't be surprised at this point), I see Kerry as having a very good chance of knocking off Bush. So let's just sit back and see over the next few weeks which presidential candidate plays the dirtiest. Admittedly I'm partisan, but I think it'll be Bush. Will the president and advisor Karl Rove (a close fiend of the man bankrolling these controversial anti-Kerry ads) score with voters in the same underhanded way his father and late strategist Lee Atwater did against Dukakis in 1988 with the Willie Horton TV ads? Or will it smack of futility like it did in 1992, when Bush's playing the Vietnam card seemed in comparison to Clinton's razor-sharp focus upon substantive policy issues in the campaign?
And then there's the unequivocal double standard at work here. What if we were to go digging into George W. Bush's past in the 70s and early 80s? Honestly I don't know the truth from the exaggerations, but there have been a lot of whisperings about cocaine use and alcoholism. Are they all 100% unfounded? Hmm. And that's not even touching the more indisputable fact that the younger Bush easily avoided Vietnam as a child of privilege.
Let's say for argument's sake that John Kerry's heroism in Vietnam has been highly exaggerated. Isn't how he spent the late 1960s still a lot more honorable?