February 20, 2004

Equivalence

James Webb, Vietnam vet and writer, has written an article that says that for Vietnam vets, Kerry and Bush are both unattractive. I won't try to debate his assessment of the liberation of Iraq�he calls it "arguably...the greatest strategic blunder in modern memory." Time will tell.

But what's interesting to me is that his criticisms of Kerry are made with very specific and vivid and disgusting examples of how Kerry lied about our soldiers in Vietnam and aided our enemies. But his Bush criticisms are generalizations without any examples. "And yet his actions in Iraq, and the vicious attacks against anyone who disagrees with his administration's logic, give many veterans serious pause...." OK, give us an example of a "vicious attack." Webb doesn't. Which veterans has he asked? How did you find this out? He doesn't say.

Or there's this: "At the same time, those around Bush, many of whom came of age during Vietnam and almost none of whom served, have attempted to assassinate the character and insult the patriotism of anyone who disagrees with them. Some have impugned the culture, history and integrity of entire nations, particularly in Europe, that have been our country's great friends for generations and, in some cases, for centuries...." So where are the specifics? Where are the quotes? Give us an example! I suspect he can't. That "patriotism" thing is a common lefty canard, never accompanied with examples.

(My guess: Webb moves in the sort of trendoid New York circles where just mentioning the words "Bush" or "Reagan" or "middle-class" are witty sallies that have people rolling on the floor. No facts needed.)

And there's also an egregious case of LYING WITH STATISTICS.

But in the zero-sum game of a presidential campaign, to go after Kerry is to give a free pass to Bush, whose actions then and now deserve no prizes. Recent statements defending Bush claim that the National Guard was not a haven for those who wished to avoid Vietnam; but it clearly was. According to the National Guard Association, only some 9,000 Army Guardsmen and 9,343 Air Guardsmen served in Vietnam. Considering that nearly 3 million from the active forces did so, one begins to understand why so many of America's elites headed for the Guard when their draft numbers were called.
There are a couple of things wrong here. First, the ANG is much smaller numerically than the NG. So the number sent to Vietnam is proportionately much higher. Second, all modern forces have many more non-combatants than fighters. For every guy on the front-line, there are 5 or 10 support troops. But, as I understand the history, the ANG was rotating pilots into AF units. They weren't sending any flapjack flippers or medics or clerks. Statistically, that's a very different animal...

Posted by John Weidner at February 20, 2004 8:50 AM
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