There is one voting block that, while not crucial to winning a Presidential election, says a lot about the candidate that wins its support during wartime - our troops. Retired US Army LTC Gordon Cucullu examines the election from the perspective of service members in his most recent column.
Since we have a lot of talk floating around about "supporting the troops," it’s interesting to ask the reciprocal question: Whom do the troops support? On the morning of Wednesday November 3, 2004 American soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines in the field answered that question resoundingly: George W. Bush. Marines actually engaged in combat operations around Fallujah, Iraq were cheering, laughing and exchanging high-fives over the president’s re-election victory.
From an outsider’s point of view this might seem odd. After all, Senator John F. Kerry ran as a war hero, a decorated veteran, and a man who pledged to "bring the troops back home where they belong." Throughout the campaign – indeed unceasingly since the 2000 campaign – Bush has been excoriated by the mainstream media as a draft-evader who hid in the National Guard, who was even absent without permission from that service (which they belittle). He was the son of an influence-peddling father who pulled strings to evade combat. He was a "chickenhawk" who dared to risk others’ lives (Bush lies; soldiers die) while avoiding risk of his own. With such a dismal, dare we say cowardly record how could it be possible that American service personnel support this guy?
John Kerry by contrast waved his medals, including his Purple Hearts around like a certain "civil rights" leader’s bloody shirt. He saluted (in an embarrassingly lame manner) to his primarily antiwar Democrat constituency as a convention kick-off then ran a Steven Spielberg-assisted editing job of a grainy black and white film that he had shot of himself during the Vietnam War engaging in heroic activities. He appeared at innumerable campaign sites in a leather bomber jacket and made certain that his advance people had sufficient number of American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars supporters in appropriate regalia seated in back of him during an appearance so that they would be highly visible in any camera angle.
Without question Candidate Kerry "talked the talk" about military experience, compassion for soldiers, and concern for their well-being. He spoke about bumping personnel levels and awarding pay raises and improving housing and all of the things that an outsider would automatically assume mattered to the troops and their families. But despite all of this he failed to pass the military smell test.
Check out the rest of LTC Cucullu's column. It's a good read, as his columns always are. Then go to this site to find out what another prominent veteran has to say about that now-famous salute.