Bob Dole spent little time in combat. But as a result of the time he did spend, he lay on his back for years, recovering, and helping others to recover.
I spent a year in Vietnam and came home without a scratch. My brother served two tours in Vietnam, earned three Purple Hearts (and was hospitalized, and does draw disability -- weird yardsticks used to measure John Kerry's alleged shortfall), and yet spent far less time than I did in-country. Indeed, his first 'tour' lasted about 15 minutes, ending on the beach near Danang in the midst of the U.S. Marines' first amphibious assault in Vietnam.
Time in-country, how often a man was wounded, how much blood he shed when he was wounded -- it is hurtful that those who served in Vietnam are being split in so vile a fashion, and that the wounds of that war are reopened at the instigation of people who avoided serving at all. It is hurtful that a man of Bob Dole's stature should lend himself to the effort to dishonor a fellow American veteran in the service of politics at its cheapest.
There was a time when he would have refused. I know. I was there.
Bob Dole was a man of conscience. Until he Fell.
The Bush administration has this effect on good people. Colin Powell, of course, is exhibit A. Some men, such as O'Neill, save their souls. Most lose them. What is it about that man?
Maybe all those Christian Fundamentalists campaigning for Bush should reread their Apocrypha. Perhaps Clinton wasn't holding the place they assigned to him ..
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