Jewish World Review Feb. 26, 2004 / 4 Adar, 5764

Jack Kelly

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The Kerry Doctrine | Sen. John Forbes Kerry laid out what might be called the Kerry doctrine — that no one who did not serve in Vietnam has the right to criticize Kerry's voting record on national security issues — in remarks to reporters Feb. 21, and in a letter to President Bush the same day.

"I don't know what it is about what these Republicans who didn't serve in any war have against those of us who are Democrats who did," Kerry told the journalists.

Kerry had taken umbrage at a statement made the day before by Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia. Chambliss predicted political trouble for Kerry because of Kerry's "32-year history of voting to cut defense programs and defense systems."

Chambliss was engaging in hyperbole. Kerry wasn't elected to the Senate until 1984, so he only has a 19-year history of voting to cut defense programs and defense systems.

But what a history it is. In those 19 years, Kerry has voted to cut the M1 tank, the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, the Apache helicopter, the B-1 bomber, the B-2 bomber, the Tomahawk cruise missile, the Patriot air defense missile, the Navy's F-14 fighter, the Air Force's F-15 fighter, the Marines' Harrier, the Navy's Aegis cruisers, the MX missile, and national missile defense. There is scarcely a weapon system that brought us victory in Operation Iraqi Freedom that Kerry didn't oppose.

Kerry also opposed the liberation of Grenada, the liberation of Nicaragua, the first Gulf War, and President Clinton's intervention in Bosnia. Not to mention the Vietnam war.

What is at issue is not Kerry's patriotism, but his judgment. Kerry would be the first war veteran the Democrats have nominated for president since George McGovern in 1972. But though Americans honored McGovern for his service as a bomber pilot in World War II, they found his judgment on national security issues to be questionable.

As on so many other things, Kerry wants to have it both ways on Vietnam.

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He touts his war service, and he and other Democrats have maligned that of President Bush. But Kerry wants to declare off limits any examination of his record as an anti-war protester, when he falsely accused his fellow Vietnam veterans of routinely committing grisly war crimes. Samuel Johnson was wrong. Patriotism isn't "the last refuge of scoundrels."

The last refuge of a scoundrel is to try to shut off debate on the public policy positions he has taken by falsely accusing those who raise legitimate questions of maligning his patriotism.

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JWR contributor Jack Kelly, a former Marine and Green Beret, was a deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force in the Reagan administration. Comment by clicking here.

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