Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Unseemly posturing

One of the most unseemly aspects of John Kerry is that he exalts his war hero status. I'm on record time and again as stipulating that Kerry is a war hero and I'm not going to debate the specifics. I'll let Captain Ed and other bloggers do that. Instead, the importance of the Swifties' ads and the Xmas in Cambodia story is what they tell us about Kerry. Answer: nothing good.

There's something fundamentally amiss when only about 10% of the surviving members of your Swift boat battalion support not only your presidential candidacy but your accounts of events and your actions. As Ralph Peters (link in title) notes:

The red flag to military men and women is that so many swift-boat veterans have come out against John Kerry. Not just one. Not 10. Dozens upon dozens.

This is as rare as humility in the Hamptons. Vets stick together. Kerry likes to play up his "band of brothers" image, but if he's got a band, his opponents have a symphony. And even if the first violinist turns out to be a "Republican stooge," it's nonetheless stunning for so many vets to denounce a former comrade publicly. It just doesn't happen unless something's really wrong.

There's also something fundamentally amiss in touting your own heroism. That's a severe lack of humility. That is completely distasteful in a presidential candidate -- any aspirant to the post of Most Powerful Man In The World should have some trepidation towards assuming that mantle and an honest level of respect for the office. Kerry has never been accused of being humble -- instead, he's a low-level blue-blood who married up twice and feels he's entitled to be president. More of this perspective from Mr. Peters:

Finally — and this is the one the pundits have trouble grasping, given the self-promoting nature of today's culture — real heroes don't call themselves heroes. Honorable soldiers or sailors don't brag. They let their deeds speak for themselves. Some of the most off-putting words any veteran can utter are "I'm a war hero."

Real heroes (and I've been honored to know some) never portray their service in grandiose terms, telling TV cameras that they're reporting for duty. Real heroes may be proud of the sacrifices they offered, but they don't shout for attention.

This is so profoundly a part of the military code of behavior that it cannot be over-emphasized. The rule is that those who brag about being heroes usually aren't heroes at all. Bragging is for drunks at the end of the bar, not for real vets. And certainly not for anyone who wishes to trade on his service to become our commander-in-chief.

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