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Tuesday, August 31, 2004

On the definition of courage... 

A number of people have said this in all sorts of blogs but lost in the discussion of the Swift Boat Vets for Truth silliness is the big picture issue: if we care about courage in a president (of both the moral, physical and intellectual variety ) does anything Bush has ever accomplished match Kerry's accomplishments?

This decent into the obvious occured for Will Saletan while listening to the muck being shoveled at the Republican National Convention. His article ends with the sort of language you might expect from a rational, really middle of the road type guy (see his archive at Slate if you're curious along these lines) who's just finally had more than he can take.

"The ultimate testament to Bush's manhood, supposedly, is the two wars he launched. As McCain put it, "He ordered American forces to Afghanistan" and "made the difficult decision to liberate Iraq." But the salient word in each of those boasts is the verb. Bush gives orders and makes decisions. He doesn't take personal risks. He never has.

I don't mean to be unfair to Bush. Vietnam was a lousy war. He wanted a way out, and he found it. But isn't it odd to see Republicans belittle the physical risks Kerry took in battle while exalting Bush's armchair wars and post-9/11 photo ops? Isn't it embarrassing to see Bob Dole, the GOP's previous presidential nominee, praise Bush's heroism while suggesting that Kerry's three combat wounds weren't bad enough to justify sending him home from Vietnam?

Watching the attacks on Kerry and the glorification of Bush reminds me of something Dole said in his speech to the Republican convention eight years ago. It was "demeaning to the nation," Dole argued, to be governed by people "who never grew up, never did anything real, never sacrificed, never suffered and never learned."

You tell me which of this year's presidential candidates that statement best describes."



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