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August 26, 2004

Kerry and The Postwar Truce on Vietnam Service

Herman Jacobs writes:

Never mind that Mr. Cheney has never breathed a word of criticism of Mr. Kerry's military service in Vietnam. Also never mind that Messrs. Bush and Cheney have never even breathed a word of criticism of Mr. Kerry's antiwar activities. For them to criticize Mr. Kerry's antiwar record would violate the second prong of the domestic truce. So in questioning the service, or lack thereof, of Messrs. Bush and Cheney, Mr. Kerry attempts to turn to his advantage the curious fact, mentioned above, that although the domestic truce grants honor to those who fought in the war and grants amnesties to those who actively opposed it , those in the middle (like Messrs. Bush, Cheney, Clinton and Quayle) receive no protection.

As the above story illustrates, long before the SwiftVets arrived on the scene, Mr. Kerry all by himself had succeeded in demeaning his service by transforming it into a crass non sequitur. As one vet put it, "Nobody who claims to have seen the action he does would so shamelessly flaunt it for political gain." In his run for the presidency, Mr. Kerry's Vietnam references became so ubiquitous that one pundit adopted the practice of never mentioning Mr. Kerry's name without the aside that he had "by the way served in Vietnam." With far less humor, Howard Dean and Mr. Kerry's other Democrat primary rivals made the same point, noting that his Vietnam record had "become the stock answer for almost every issue for Kerry's campaign."

The predominant quality revealed in Mr. Kerry's spinning and unspinning his personal history in the Vietnam era is that, like everything else in his political life (from the SUVs he owns but doesn't own, to the medals he tossed but didn't toss, to the war in Iraq he supports but doesn't support), he's trying to have it both ways. But because of how the Vietnam era tore this country apart and still weighs on the nation's political soul, Mr. Kerry's trying to have it both ways about that war is so much more telling than his SUV moment or even his flip-flops on the current war.

Yes, it's true that under the strict terms of our long-standing domestic truce, John Kerry was not required to apologize for the things he said 30 years ago, even though he himself had more recently tested that truce with his attacks on George W. Bush's National Guard service. But then in January of this year, to burnish his credentials as a war president, Mr. Kerry's authorized biography reported a story implying that his Swift Boat comrades had fled the scene of an enemy attack while he alone returned to rescue the wounded. Honor being such an insignificant thing to John Kerry, he probably had no idea that--with his biography reviving war crimes accusations and, more specifically, implying cowardice on the part of his fellow Swifties--he had broken the domestic truce.

The truce is over....

And those guys, unlike Kerry, know how to fight!

Posted by erasmuse at August 26, 2004 10:03 AM

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Iím curious. Are any democrats worthy of public office? I ask because I have scanned your blog for several months and cannot recall a kind word being said about any democrat. Perhaps I missed it.

Is this what passes for reasonable discourse at the Kelley School these days? I sincerely hope your scholarly research cites sources a bit more credible than Ann Coulter. If not, I can see why Kelley has plummeted in B-school ratings over the last decade or so.

OK, that was a cheap shot but it seems appropriate on this blog.

Posted by: Wilson at August 26, 2004 06:02 PM

To be sure, the Democratic Party has not distinguished itself in recent years. I don't think, actually, that I've named many different individual Democrats or Republicans in my weblog. I did have an entire entry which spoke kindly of the otherwise despicable Max Cleland, admiring his 1980's attitude towards the medals which other people gave him for things he didn't think merited them.

I certainly hope that Kerry, Clinton, and McGreevey are special cases, and I think my comments on them indicate that I think it is news worth reporting when even a Democratic politician lies, gives jobs to sexual intimates, and so forth.

WHat do you have against Ann Coulter? I don't know her work that well, but from what I know of her, she, although abused by liberals, is less inaccurate than the New York Times (not that that's saying much). She's just as biased, of course, but since she's an op-ed writer, she's supposed to be. Op-ed writers of any kind don't turn up much in the journal articles I write, though. Here's a chance to tout my latest working paper, "When Does Extra Risk Strictly Increase the Value of Options?" at http: //www.rasmusen.org/papers/options_rasmusen.pdf. The reference list is:

Bergman, Yaacov Z., Bruce D. Grundy & Zvi Wiener (1996) ``General Properties of Option Prices,'' The Journal of Finance, 51, 5: 1573-1610 (December 1996).

Black, Fischer & Myron J. Scholes (1973) ``The Pricing of Options and Corporate Lliabilities,'' Journal of Political Economy, 81, 3: 637-654.

Bliss, Robert R. (2000) ``The Pitfalls in Inferring Risk from Financial Market Data,'' Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago WP 2000-24 (December 21, 2000). http://ideas.repec.org/p/fip/fedhwp/wp-00-24.html.

Copeland, Thomas & J. Fred Weston (1988) Financial Theory and Corporate Policy, Reading: Addison-Wesley, ISBN 0-201-10648-5.

Cox, John & Stephen Ross (1976) ``The Valuation of Options for Alternative Stochastic Processes,'' Journal of Financial Economics, 3,1-2: 145- 166 (January-March 1976).

Hadar, J. & W.R. Russell (1969) ``Rules for Ordering Uncertain Prospects,'' American Economic Review, 59: 25-34.

Hanoch, G. & H. Levy (1969) ``The Efficiency Analysis of Choices Involving Risk,'' Review of Economic Studies, 36: 335-346.

Jagannathan, Ravi (1984) ``Call Options and the Risk of Underlying Securities,'' Journal of Financial Economics, 13,3: 425-434 (September 1984).

Kijima, Masaaki (2002) ``Monotonicity and Convexity of Option Prices Revisited,'' Mathematical Finance, 12, 4: 411-425 ( October 2002).

Merton, Robert C. (1973) ``Theory of Rational Option Pricing,'' The Bell Journal of Economics and Management Science, 4,1: 141-183 (Spring 1973).

Merton, Robert C. (1976) ``Option Pricing When Underlying Stock Returns Are Discontinuous,'' Journal of Financial Economics, 3, 1-2: 125-144 (January-March 1976).

New School for Social Research (2004) ``Riskiness,''\\ http://cepa.newschool.edu/het/essays/uncert/increase.htm.

Petrakis, Emmanuel & Eric Rasmusen (1992) ``Defining the Mean- Preserving Spread: 3-pt versus 4-pt,'' Decision Making Under Risk and Uncertainty: New Models and Empirical Findings, edited by John Geweke (Amsterdam: Kluwer, 1992).

Rothschild, Michael & Joseph Stiglitz (1970) ``Increasing Risk I,''
Journal of Economic Theory, 2: 225-243 (September 1970).

I see at least one typo-- I'd better remember to fix it.

Posted by: Eric Rasmusen at August 26, 2004 10:12 PM

Ah-- another Democrat I spoke a kind word for was John Edwards. I had a post in which I noted that he and Cheney had much the same kind of Vietnam War record-- exempt from the draft, and didn't volunteer-- and that I thought that was entirely honorable.

So, actually, since I've thought of two examples of kind words for Democrats in the last week or so, I don't think I've been too hard on them. Not that I shouldn't be, of course, if they deserved it. An open-minded person should be prepared to find that all the offense are committed by one party (or the other), just as when if you're looking at random sequences, you should be prepared to accept HEADS-HEADS-HEADS-HEADS if that's the way the coin flips.

Posted by: Eric Rasmusen at August 26, 2004 10:17 PM

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