John Kerry served in Vietnam.
And I couldn't care less.
I was born in 1984, over eight years after the end of the Vietnam War. The fact that John Kerry served in the Navy on a swift boat for four months means little to me, beyond the fact that I'm grateful for the service of any veteran -- even if that service was clearly an excuse to bulk up a resume.
John Kerry was anti-war before he ever set foot in Vietnam, so the idea that he became pacifistic only after seeing the horrors of war is baloney. In 1966, two years before Kerry entered the Gulf of Tonkin, he told his graduating class at Yale that "The United States must, I think, bring itself to understand that the policy of intervention that was right for Western Europe does not and cannot find the same application to the rest of the world."
In any case, I'm far more concerned with John Kerry's record since he got back to the United States. His record starts with stabbing in the back American soldiers who were still under fire. In 1971, he told Congress that American military members "raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, (blew) up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam ... "
Hilariously, Kerry has attempted to build his 2004 presidential campaign on the idea that he was a famous war hero. Kerry infamously intoned upon reaching the stage at the Democratic National Convention: "I'm John Kerry, and I'm reporting for duty." In his nomination acceptance speech, Kerry referred to his Vietnam service no fewer than eight times. He didn't refer to his 1971 testimony before Congress once.
But the fact remains that had Kerry not defamed American troops, he would be an obscure war veteran, not a presidential candidate. To ignore this essential element of Kerry's history is to overlook his opportunism. If experiencing enemy fire makes you a better president, being a selfish mercenary surely makes you a worse one.
Despite his encouragement to judge him by his record, during his acceptance speech, Kerry completely overlooked his tenure as Massachusetts lieutenant governor under Michael Dukakis. He explicitly mentioned his Senate service a grand total of one time and even then only mentioned three policies he pursued. This is a man obviously attempting to escape his record -- which is why he can only point to his four months of service in Vietnam.