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August 24, 2004

The Hypocrisy of Kerry's "My medals are all officially awarded" Argument-- His Reserve Service

Kerry has not done much of anything to defend his Vietnam record except to repeat the argument that the U.S. government awarded him those medals, and everybody ought to trust that the government looked into things carefully, even if evidence turns up that it did not. Of course, that's a bad argument. What makes it worse is that Kerry has never been willing to apply it to George Bush's military service. Various people have been citing this Kerry Press Release:

"If George Bush wants to ask me questions about that through his surrogates, he owes America an explanation about whether or not he showed up for duty in the National Guard. Prove it. That's what we ought to have. I'm not going to stand around and let them play games." -- John Kerry, NBC News, 4/26/04

The Air Force was quite happy with George Bush's service, and gave him an honorable discharge. Is that enough to prove that Bush did everything he was supposed to do in the Air Force Reserve? Yes, I should think so, in the absence of any other evidence. If a person doesn't get fired or disciplined, we don't disbelieve his story that he did show up for work and complain that he doesn't have notarized records of showing up. If, of course we actually have evidence he didn't show up, then we might believe he didn't show up. We would have to conclude, though, that either his employer didn't mind-- as in the case, say, of a salesman who makes his quota anyway, despite going fishing sometimes-- or that he had cleverly fooled his employer.

In Kerry's own case, though, he says that the fact that the government gave him a Purple Heart is conclusive evidence that he deserved it. I would say it is *presumptive evidence*-- in the absence of other evidence we should believe he deserved it-- but not *irrefutable evidence*-- if we do find other evidence that indicates the government made a mistake, we should believe that other evidence instead.

By the way, not only is Kerry hypocritical in questioning Bush's Reserve service rather than accepting the Air Force's contentment with it at the time; Kerry is also vulnerable to exactly the charge he makes against Bush. As Mudville points out, Kerry served in the Navy Reserve from 1970 to 1978. If I remember rightly, from 1970 to 1972 he was in a semi-active category and from 1972 to 1978 in the most inactive category. Do we have any evidence-- other than his honorable discharge in 1978-- that Kerry was doing whatever a reservist is supposed to be doing? Does anybody remember him showing up?

(See my Kerry in Vietnam archives for more posts)

Posted by erasmuse at August 24, 2004 11:25 PM

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