Friday, April 30, 2004

Quick Question

So, at 23, John Kerry, fresh back from a nasty war where he was wounded and decorated for bravery, was so angry that he threw away medals that he had come to regard as a whore's payment. Mistake? What, being angry or throwing away momentos of a bad vacation? Kerry's owned up to all that. Has Bush ever acknowledged his specific acts of misbehavior, such as his DUI? Bush is allowed a free pass for everything he did before he quit drinking?

When I got out of the army, I was mad. It took me two or three years to get over my anger, and I didn't even go to Vietnam! I knew bunches of boys who did go, though. Bunches. Most of the regular soldiers I served with my two years in Alaska were fresh from tours of duty in Vietnam. There were a lot of angry young men, many of them broken in spirit and body. Our anger stemmed from the same source, and that was the devaluation of our lives, our ambitions, for the pursuit of a failed war and a failed idea.

Let's set the record straight. Vietnam was a mistake from the gitgo. Waging it a long time did not make it a righteous cause. 58,000 dead did not make it a righteous cause. George W. Bush sure didn't think it was worth anything. I am as proud of my years as a draft resister as I am my years in the army. I have absolute admiration for men like John Kerry who put their lives on the line for their country, even when they knew or suspected that their country was wrong. I have the same equal respect for those young men who quietly moved to Canada. It takes great courage to face an enemy shooting at you, but the choices are simple in that situation. It takes a more sublime form of courage to leave your family and your friends and go and live in a strange land. (No offense, Canada, for the "strange land" remark, eh?)

I'm digressing again. My point is this: why are Kerry's actions at 23 more significant than Bush's actions at 23. Both of them acted like young men of 23. I think we'd all be better served if we talked about the issues: unemployment, runaway health care costs, pollution, stewardship of our environment.

I'm just saying, that's all.