Debra J. Saunders

 Bob Dole, speaking for a generation for which military service has a different standard, quipped on CNN Sunday that Kerry is in the hot seat for a reason: "I mean, one day, he's saying that we were shooting civilians, cutting off their ears, cutting off their heads, throwing away his medals or his ribbons. The next day, he's standing there, 'I want to be president because I'm a Vietnam veteran.'"

 On Sunday, a Washington Post story looked at charges that Kerry did not earn all of his medals and found that "although Kerry's accusers have succeeded in raising doubts about his war record, they have failed to come up with sufficient evidence to prove him a liar."

 No surprise there. If there's one thing I've learned in life, it is to discount what is said by any group or person that claims to represent "the truth." (This means filmmaker Michael Moore.)

 Still, as Dole said, "Not every one of these people can be Republican liars." Indeed, the Washington Post story also found holes in the Kerry war-hero hagiography and reported that Kerry refused to release documents related to his military record.

 Kerry, of course, would not be expected to release this information if he had not made his military tenure the core of his campaign for president.

 It shouldn't be this personal, but it is because the race has become all about personality. It's odd: America is at war. Kerry and his fellow Democrats have disagreed with Bush on many aspects of the war. But rather than argue on the big issues, Camp Kerry has focused on nasty little digs.

 Take Kerry campaign spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter's response to Bush spokesman Scott McClellan's statement that Kerry was "losing his cool" on the Swift boat controversy. Cutter shot back, "Mr. McClellan needs to understand that John Kerry is not the type of leader who will sit and read 'My Pet Goat' to a group of second-graders while America is under attack" -- a shot at Bush for remaining in a Florida classroom for several minutes after learning of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

 Talk about thin-skinned. I guess that's what happens when you are fed a dose of your own medicine.

Debra J. Saunders

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