Manna From Michael Moore
I'm somewhat perplexed as to why Dean partisans and Kerry naysayers fear that John Kerry's Vietnam and post-Vietnam experience (assuming he's the nominee) will be a liability. (Full disclosure: I'm a Kucinich supporter. Feel free to unload chortles, guffaws, and good-natured ribbing at my expense.) If anything, this is the perfect "character" issue for Kerry to drive home. Of course the GOP and its media surrogates are going to push the fact that he publicly tossed his ribbons in opposition to the war. In response, Kerry can calmly respond that he stood for the courage of his convictions twice. First, in launching successful counterattacks againts VC ambushes as a Swift Boat officer, for which he was honored with a Silver Star, Bronze Star, and three purple hearts. Second (and this is key) Kerry had the courage to jeopardize his well-deserved war-hero reputation by publicly protesting against a war he (and many other Americans) eventually considered immoral. By stark contrast, President Bush, the eternal chickenhawk, supported the Vietnam War, but was too cowardly to enlist.
The key to this election is successfully framing hot-button issues in our favor. John McCain and Max Cleland failed to do so, and in McCain's case, his Vietnam heroism was perversely used against him. Kerry, whatever doubts you may have about him (and there are certainly many), seems to be doing better, given that Ed Gillespie and Ralph Reed have been reduced to sputtering, fever-pitched recriminations and incoherent defenses of W's record in response. And for this, we should all sincerely thank Peter Jennings.