Unsportsmanlike conduct…

Maybe Dubya should have been a hockey player.

This photo from the 1969 Yale Yearbook gives us some insight into a younger George’s personality.

Tom Tomorrow does a good write-up on this pic, with his usual elaboration and humor.

Personally, I’m sort of disappointed that the focus of the petty bickering between Bush and Kerry (or at the very least between their surrogates) has focused on Kerry’s war record. I have to make an admission here. I cannot fault Dubya for being a chickenshit during the Vietnam war, and the fact that Kerry not only served in that war but volunteered for duty in Vietnam makes me worried about what was going on in his young mind.

See, I completely get using any and every opportunity and connection you’ve got to avoid going to fight in what was obvious to anyone at the time was a pointless, horrible and nasty war. That Dubya wanted to keep himself alive and thus able to get down and partay his way through the seventies and get his debauch on in a big way is completely and totally something I can understand. When I was in my 20s there’s no way in hell I would have willingly gone to fight in a war. If I could have used my dad’s connections to avoid serving in Vietnam and also gotten to fly fighter planes anyway I’d have been completely ready and willing to do it.

What I don’t get is deciding that you want to be in the Navy, want to serve in Vietnam and want to kill people. Face it, that’s basically what Kerry did. I’m not so sure I consider that brave. I consider it vaguely grisly and scary. Think about it. Here’s your choice – graduate from college and set forth to live as cool and interesting (and free from death and mayhem) a life as you can muster or graduate from college and sign up to be an officer in the Navy so you can command a swiftboat, (which is basically a really tiny patrol boat that is going to get shot at a lot), and spend several years, well, getting shot at, watching your friends get maimed and killed and risking your own life on a daily basis. If you say you’d take the war path then you’re not just demented, you might be a sociopath as far as I’m concerned.

Don’t get me wrong. I want Dubya forced into early retirement next January. No doubt about that. The Bush Administration is clearly bad for America. And I do think that Kerry has the potential to be a pretty decent President. At the very least Kerry will get the rest of the world to stop thinking of the US as a rogue state, and he might just push forward some good Democratic agenda items, as well as get to select a nominee or two for the Supreme Court. That’s all good in my book. What this little exercise about motivations to go fight or chicken out does though is prove that if you look at just about anything in politics hard enough you’ll see that what the candidates and their minions feed us is, basically, relentless bullshit.

It wasn’t cowardly for Dubya to avoid service in Vietnam. It was smart. It also wasn’t brave for Kerry to volunteer for service in Vietnam. It was suicidal, and he’s damned lucky he got to come home alive and with all his limbs intact. So the two of them trading jabs over their military service or lack thereof is just a distraction. It’s the same bullshit we always see with Presidential elections. The candidates bicker over crap that’s irrelevant to the campaign.

Lots of Kerry supporters will read this and come after me with a very predictable line – that Dubya is unworthy to send soldiers to fight in a war because he cut and ran when his turn to fight for his country came up. They’ll try to tell me that he doesn’t understand what war’s all about and therefore hasn’t got the qualifications to send other folks to fight and die. I’m sorry but I have to call bullshit on this specious reasoning. I’d say that a guy who uses every advantage he’s got to make sure he doesn’t end up in a war does, in fact, understand war just fine. He understood it enough as a young man to know that he didn’t want any part of it. He understood that his life and limbs were precious to him and he wanted to keep them both intact. He knows that when he sends troops off to fight, get maimed and die that they’re doing something he wasn’t willing to do himself. Kerry, on the other hand, either had a very poor sense of self preservation as a young man or he was a fool. I’d question whether or not he’d have any hesitation at all to send young folks to fight and die on some battlefield.

So, to the Kerry folks I say, drop this pathetic subject and concentrate on what voters really care about – are we going to have jobs, will we be able to afford to put gas in our cars, will we be able to get healthcare for ourselves and our families without paying through the nose for it and what are you going to do to make sure that crazed religious fanatics don’t either blow up part of our town or try take away women’s right to choose whether or not to bear children.

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