Monday, August 23, 2004

Bob Dole Should Be Ashamed

This is an exchange between Wolf Blitzer and Bob Dole on CNN's Late Edition:

WOLF BLITZER: You seem to think there is some doubt whether John Kerry deserved those ribbons and medals that he got, serving in Vietnam. I want you to listen to what Senator John Warner, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, a friend of yours, he was on this program sitting in that seat only one week ago. He was secretary of the Navy when John Kerry got that Silver Cross. Listen to this.


SEN. JOHN WARNER (R), VIRGINIA: We did extraordinary, careful checking on that type of medal, a very high one, when it goes through the Secretariat. So I'd stand by the process that awarded him that medal, and I think we best acknowledge that his heroism did gain that recognition. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: The Silver Star he was talking about. You obviously believe Senator Warner.

DOLE: Yes, but I don't think Senator Warner drafted the citation or even, you know, they'd gone so far as to say Kerry wrote up his own record.

BLITZER: But what Senator Warner said is there was a process that, when it got to him, the secretary of the Navy, he had total confidence that it was justified. And that if he got the Silver Star, John Kerry, he believes it was justified.

DOLE: I don't quarrel with that. I said John Kerry's a hero. But what I will always quarrel about are the Purple Hearts. I mean, the first one, whether he ought to have a Purple Heart -- he got two in one day, I think. And he was out of there in less than four months, because three Purple Hearts and you're out. And as far as I know, he's never spent one day in the hospital. I don't think he draws any disability pay. He doesn't have any disability. And boasting about three Purple Hearts when you think of some of the people who really got shot up in Vietnam...

So what exactly is he saying? That John Kerry somehow wounded himself in a grand plan of getting out of Vietnam? I always thought of Dole as a fair guy, and even a stand up guy who didn't play these games. This is the bullshit that Swift Vet Larry Thurlow suggested on last Thursday's Hardball:

Because of the fact that he engineered three Purple Heart incidences that allowed him to go home after he spent about one third of his tour there.

As did wingnut Michelle Malkin on the same program:

Why don‘t people ask him more specific questions about the shrapnel in his leg. They are legitimate questions about whether or not it was a self-inflicted wound.

Chris didn't let either of them get easily away with these outrageous claims, but now Bob Dole, a more mainstream figure, is starting to plant seeds of doubt as well. But as Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo points out, Dole's pot may be calling John Kerry's kettle black:

In a 1988 campaign-trail autobiography, here's how Dole described the incident that earned him his first Purple Heart: "As we approached the enemy, there was a brief exchange of gunfire. I took a grenade in hand, pulled the pin, and tossed it in the direction of the farmhouse. It wasn't a very good pitch (remember, I was used to catching passes, not throwing them). In the darkness, the grenade must have struck a tree and bounced off. It exploded nearby, sending a sliver of metal into my leg--the sort of injury the Army patched up with Mercurochrome and a Purple Heart."

Perhaps the final word on the subject should be the left to the man who spoke the first word on the subject:

All wounds received in the nation's service are equally honorable.

- George Washington, 1776, upon creating the Order of the Purple Heart


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