Is the past THAT relevant?
The new tempest in a tea cup is that "new information" has surfaced that G.W. Bush may have skipped duty in the Texas Air National Guard in the mid-1970's. The New York Times, 60 Minutes, and most of the morning talk shows have been all abuzz over this revelation, and quite frankly, they would be. After all, they have a candidate to get elected.
So far this morning, I have seen at least 8 (count 'em!) refutations of the "new information". They run the gamut from provable forgeries to pointing out that the reporters who brought them to us have taken things out of context, to other documents not mentioned that contradict what these "new documents" presume to tell us.
All of it bullshit.
The past is an issue solely because John Kerry made it so. He did this because he had nothing else to offer Americans except four months in the Mekong Delta out of his 60 or so years. Four months of RELUCTANT service do not make a resume. It has been documented that Kerry, far from his claims of having "volunteered", sought five draft deferments before he finally bowed to the inevitable. While he put his life at risk for four months, G.W. did so for FIVE YEARS, flying fighter jets that were notoriously dangerous, unstable and little more than flying gas cans.
His attempt to bring relevancy to the past was intended to deflect criticism and serve as an interesting backdrop to an otherwise very uninteresting man. Hence, his inablility to drop the subject.
What Mr. Kerry, and those who surround him, fail to grasp is this: Americans don't necessarily care who wore the uniform (after all, Bill Clinton got elected twice) when it comes to selecting their leaders. Americans dwell in the here-and-now and in the future. It's one of the hallmarks of Amerian society that while we regard the past as a useful tool to examine the present, we very often have our eyes fixed on the tomorrow. The past becomes a useful too then too --- it's called experience.
Mr. Bush may not have been anywhere near Vietnam, but that is not the point -- there were many people in the military in that era that never got close to Vietnam (in Japan, Germany, the Philipines, Thailand, here in the United States and fifty other places), and we would not automatically consider them "unpatriotic" nor would we accuse them of "shirking their duty".
We should stop arguing about Vietnam and assigning varying levels of patriotism by subdividing all of the brave men and women who put on the uniform into "those that did" and "those that didn't". It's unfair, and in the end, it's ridiculous. There were many, I'm sure, spoiling for a chance to go to Vietnam and they never got there, and there were many who wouldn't touch Vietnam with a 10 foot pole and were happy to stay away from it. It doesn't mean they have no right to be President of the United States or have a greater or lesser claim to being patriotic Americans.
The point(s), simply is (are) this: who is stepping forward to lead NOW and who do we believe would be a better leader TOMORROW? Is it someone stuck in yesterday to the point where he cannot talk about anything else, or will it be someone who thinks like the rest of us do, and who looks forward?
If you doubt me, ask yourself this question: do you care about Purple Hearts or do you care about your home, family and sanity? Do you care about the events of 35 years ago or do you care about making your next mortgage payment? Do you pine for the days of a divided country and a free-falling society, or do you believe that Americans, despite their differences, can all be on the same page when they need to be? These are the important questions in this, or any, election. Perhas if Senator Kerry paid more attention to people (other than himself), he might realize this.