Captain Ed details a disturbing pattern emerging amongst prominent Barack Obama supporters bashing McCain’s military record, counting three recent attacks. It’s almost as if they are working in concert with the NYT magazine, which published this little hit piece on McCain a few days ago (h/t: ST reader Fat Tone):
There is a feeling among some of McCain’s fellow veterans [in the Senate] that his break with them on Iraq can be traced, at least partly, to his markedly different experience in Vietnam. McCain’s comrades in the Senate will not talk about this publicly. They are wary of seeming to denigrate McCain’s service, marked by his legendary endurance in a Hanoi prison camp, when in fact they remain, to this day, in awe of it. And yet in private discussions with friends and colleagues, some of them have pointed out that McCain, who was shot down and captured in 1967, spent the worst and most costly years of the war sealed away, both from the rice paddies of Indochina and from the outside world. During those years, McCain did not share the disillusioning and morally jarring experiences of soldiers like Kerry, Webb and Hagel, who found themselves unable to recognize their enemy in the confusion of the jungle; he never underwent the conversion that caused Kerry, for one, to toss away some of his war decorations during a protest at the Capitol. Whatever anger McCain felt remained focused on his captors, not on his own superiors back in Washington.
Not all of McCain’s fellow veterans subscribe to the theory that the singularity of his war experience has anything to do with his intransigence on Iraq. (Bob Kerrey, for one, told me that while he was aware of this argument, he has never believed it.) But some suspect that whatever lesson McCain took away from his time in Vietnam, it was not the one that stayed with his colleagues who were “in country” during those years — that some wars simply can’t be won on the battlefield, no matter how long you fight them, no matter how many soldiers you send there to die.
“McCain is my friend and brother, and I love him dearly” Max Cleland, Georgia’s former Democratic senator, told me when we talked last month. “But I think you learn something fighting on the ground, like me and John Kerry and Chuck Hagel did in Vietnam. This objective of â€˜hearts and minds’? Well, hello! You didn’t know which heart and mind was going to blow you up!
“I have seen this movie before, and I know how it ends” says Cleland, who lost three of his limbs to an errant grenade during the battle of Khe Sanh. “With thousands dead and tens of thousands more injured, and years later you ask yourself what you were doing there. To the extent my friend John McCain signs on to this, he is endangering America’s long-term interests, and probably his own election in the fall.”
Is this really where the Democrats want to go this fall?
Dean Barnett wonders:
[…] what has happened to the political party of “Reporting for Duty?” Remember the outrage they felt over George W. Bush’s failure to serve in Vietnam? Only four short years ago, these people revered military service. Apparently military service by a Republican, even while it may do something to remove the stain of the chicken-hawk, remains inherently ignoble.
Damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.
I think this just goes to show once again that the only war veterans that many Democrats find heroic are the ones who are, well, against war.
Related: Michelle Malkin documents many Barack Obama gaffes.