Even before he gets started, we know where he's going, don't we? Liberals want to insist when they tout a "war hero" making their anti-liberation of Iraq talking points, it's 100 percent beyond the pale of decency to investigate him. They want the world to know that when a "war hero" acceptable to them disagrees with President Bush, everyone must stop, shut up and listen like an old E.F. Hutton commercial.
Dionne sounds just like his hero Bill Clinton as he proclaims to be maddened by "the unblushing hypocrisy of the right wing and the way it circulates ... personal vilification to abort honest political debate." As if that weren't enough, there's also this: "Moreover, the right has demonstrated that its attitude toward military service is entirely opportunistic."
Now here is where we should all acknowledge our partisanship -- I oppose the Clintons and the Kerrys, and Dionne favors them. But can Dionne honestly state that the left wing (and "objective" smearers like CBS) have not resorted to "personal vilification" on the military record of George W. Bush? Can he honestly ignore that the left has vilified the World War II military service of Bob Dole in 1996 (Robert Ellis in The Nation) and George H. W. Bush in 1992 (Sidney Blumenthal in the New Republic)?
More importantly, how dare anyone on the left accuse any conservative of attitudinal opportunism where military service is involved? Military service didn't matter a bit to them when Bill Clinton was running, but it was vitally important when Kerry was their man in 2004. They felt George W. Bush's National Guard record was a scandal in 2000, but also didn't want the media poring over Al Gore's Vietnam service as a journalist. Four years later, there they were again, poring over Bush's Vietnam-era service record.
It's fair to state that on some investigative stories, only conservatives want the tough, thorough report, and on others, only liberals are really jazzed about it. But what about the public interest? A media revering the words "objective," "nonpartisan," and "mainstream" would investigate both Republicans and Democrats when politicians start dragging out their war records.