Fear of Clowns

"Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable."
- H. L. Mencken

Monday, August 23, 2004

Bob Dolt got part of it right 

Every day of his 1996 presidential campaign, Bob Dole wore a Purple Heart lapel pin as a symbol of his devotion to his country. Dole received a debilitating wound during WW II and touted that wound; his campaign gaving prominent attention to his sacrifice and there was nothing wrong with that:

Dole's official campaign video, "Bob Dole: An American Hero," features an "America's Most Wanted"-style recreation of the battlefield scene, with shaky, slow-motion footage of a rifle and an empty helmet rolling on the ground. His convalescence is conveyed with shots of a man from the knees down, shuffling forward.

The Kerry campaign, of course, is indeed featuring his Vietnam service. But anyone that would claim Kerry is making a lot of racket about his Purple Hearts isn't paying attention to John Kerry - they're paying attention to the racket John O'Neill and other Bush surrogates are making about Kerry's medals. O'Neill seems to have Bob Dole's ear more than John Kerry does. On CNN yesterday, Dole bemoaned Kerry's Purple Hearts and service record yet in the next breath made the astute observation that nobody thought to question his own service record and Purple Hearts:

And he's, you know, a good guy, good friend. I respect his record. But three Purple Hearts and never bled that I know of. I mean, they're all superficial wounds. Three Purple Hearts and you're out. I think Senator Kerry needs to talk about his Senate record, which is pretty thin. That's probably why he's talking about his war record, which is pretty confused ...

I said John Kerry's a hero. But what I will always quarrel about are the Purple Hearts. I mean, the first one, whether he ought to have a Purple Heart - he got two in one day, I think ...

I remember in '96, I was the veteran in the race. Bill Clinton avoided the draft. And we didn't have all this trouble over my service versus his non-service. There wasn't much written about it. People accepted the fact that I had a record.

- Bob Dole, August 22, 2004

Indeed. It's the Swift Boat Vets for "Truth" that are confusing Kerry's service record, his record is clear and publicly available to download. Here is how Del Sandusky today responded to Dole's nonsense:

"[Kerry] deserved every one of his medals ... He carries a piece of shrapnel in his leg because he refused to be operated on and (spend) a couple of days in the hospital and leave us on the boat" I was there when he got wounded. I saw the blood. I don't care what Dole said."

Dole, however, is right on the more important count - nobody was low enough to question Dole's record as they are Kerry's, Dole was free to run on it (and lose) in 1996. Here are some excerpts from 1996 Republican Convention floor speeches that nobody had the audacity to smear:

"Bob Dole wears on the lapel of his coat a small pin. The purple heart, a symbol of his devotion to this county."
- Michael O. Leavitt, August 15, 1996

"When his country called - Bob Dole was there - ready to make the sacrifice. America is calling again."
- Kay Bailey Hutchison, August 13, 1996

"Bob Dole himself, bloodied in combat, tested by fire on the battlefield and in the world of politics, has proved his service to his country."
- Former President George HW Bush, August 12, 1996

Dole's wound that was traumatic an affects him to this day. As an important side note that others have observed - Dole has a second Purple Heart for a minor wound, yet, as Dole says "People accepted the fact". Dole described his wound like this in a campaign autobiography:

"As we approached the enemy, there was a brief exchange of gunfire. I took a grenade in hand, pulled the pin, and tossed it in the direction of the farmhouse. It wasn't a very good pitch (remember, I was used to catching passes, not throwing them). In the darkness, the grenade must have struck a tree and bounced off. It exploded nearby, sending a sliver of metal into my leg - the sort of injury the Army patched up with Mercurochrome and a Purple Heart."

- Bob Dole, 1988

If it wasn't for people like Swift Boat Vets for "Truth" making ridiculous claims and people like Bob Dole repeating them, there would be no problem. Although it doesn't seem to be much of a problem as Kerry's preference numbers have since risen in states that could go either way

Here is an especially ridiculous claim by the group for you to chew on: Kerry wrote his own after action reports and embellished them. Their evidence?

See Exhibit 17. KJW identifies the report as Kerry's.

The initials KJW indicate that the report was written by John Forbes Kerry. Dole is right - Kerry's record is confusing - to stupid people.

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