Saturday, August 28, 2004

Ben Barnes is ashamed...

...of using his influence as Lt. Governor of Texas to get George Bush his cushy billet in the National Guard, but you know that. News of his video confession has spread pretty far and wide. If you haven't seen it (or, like me, are working with a relatively antiquated 'puter and slow dial up), Atrios has a full transcript.

More than his confession of shame, though, I was struck by this part of Barnes' remarks.
"But I admired even more the fact that he came back talking about Vietnam and what a mistake it was. A matter of fact he talked about it so much that he got the FBI looking at him and got on Richard Nixon's list. And that took, that takes a lot of courage of a young man who particularly has an interest in politics and that wants to serve this county to go get on the President's black list. And I know a little bit about that because I got on Richard Nixon's black list also, and that's a story for another time. But it's, it's incredible that John Kerry, uhh, had the courage to go do that."
It is incredible that Kerry had the courage to do that. It's also incredible that some people can go around saying that John Kerry's entire life has been a calculated scheme to rise to the highest office in the country. How does that fit with his anti-war activities, which gave him an FBI jacket, made him a target of the most vindictive White House of the 20th Century (granted, a mild time compared to what we've seen so far in the 21st), and provided fuel for scurriolous attacks in campaign after campaign every since?

Well, it doesn't fit at all. In fact, whatever his youthful ambitions may have been, Kerry undertook his anti-war activities knowing that they were controversial enough to undermine those ambitions, possibly -even probably - putting a life of public service out of reach. He did it because it was the right thing to do, and doing the right thing when there's personal risk involved is indeed courageous. Of course, the professional risk involved in opposing the war paled in comparison to the physical risk of his heroism while serving in war, but it was an expression of courage, nonetheless.

It's that kind of repeated courage - and there are subsequent examples as well - that confirms Barnes' judgement when he said...
"And I tell you, for the Republicans to jump on John Kerry and say that he's not a patriot, after he went to Vietnam and was shot at and fought for our freedom and came back here and protested against the war - "he's a flip flopper." Let me tell you, John Kerry is 100 times a better patriot than George Bush or Dick Cheney or Donald Rumsfeld."
Or most any of us, for that matter.

It's time we put a real American hero in the White House.


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