Monday, August 23, 2004

What impact is the Swift Boat ad controversy having on the veteran vote? I can’t say for certain, as I have no empirical stats in front of me to justify a position one way or the other. However, I did come across an admittedly small anecdotal sample this morning by way of a co-worker who happens to be a Vietnam vet.

A casual political observer, certainly not reflexively Republican by any means, Ed struck up a conversation with me about “this whole Kerry Purple Heart thing”. Up until this weekend, he hadn’t heard much about the Swifties’ charges against Botox. Now that the issue is in full bloom across the major media outlets, Ed is able to glean a few facts about Botox’s truncated tour in Vietnam. Two things stand out as particularly disturbing/distasteful to him: the purported superficiality of Botox’s wounds that led to the Purple Heart citations, and consequently, the exercise of the “3 Purple Hearts and you’re out” rule to cut Botox’s service in ‘Nam to just 4½ months.

I asked Ed what he thought about the 1971 Congressional testimony in which he and his fellow servicemen were accused by Botox of being war criminals. “Oh yeah, that, too!” Ed said, shaking his head in disdain. He then told me some frightening stories of being shot at while on patrol, of nearly dying in a bombing raid, and of the utter relief he felt as he flew home after serving a year in the jungles of Vietnam.

The media’s Pro-Botox editorializing aside, the facts of the situation are what veterans across the country are focusing on today. Just ask Bob Dole. Believe what you will about whether or not the Swift Boat Vets are just a well-financed gaggle of Republican smear-mongers; Botox’s murky service in Vietnam and his slanderous conduct as an anti-war agitator will be major sticking points for many veterans, particularly those who’ve experienced combat overseas.


At 8/24/2004 12:49 PM, Blogger Tony P. said...

I'm like you, I don't have any numbers in front of me, but I'm willing to bet that Kerry's numbers with ALL vets are sinking fast.

Any anecdotal evidence I would have is probably tainted. I only know two vets -- my brother (Vietnam era) and my best friend (80s era) and neither would vote for Kerry in a million years.

But I can say this -- my brother has talked very, very rarely about his Vietnam service. He has some pictures of his time there, and he will talk about the people in them and where they were taken. But as far as what his life was like there on a day-to-day basis, I don't have a clue. I know he saw combat, but that's about it. He just doesn't like to bring it up. From what I have read and heard, most of the vets of that era are very similar.

For Kerry to attempt to use his Vietnam experience as the main reason to vote for him, especially in light of his testimony before the senate, has got to stick in the craw of a lot of vets.


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