Some Bush-haters also trashed the president's daughters because they have not enlisted, even if few held the Kerry daughters to the same standard. I don't ascribe to the notion that candidates' children are chattel, who have to enlist because of their parents' views. But if you think otherwise, you should know that Chelsea Clinton is a hedge fund analyst, Edwards' elder daughter is in law school, and Obama's daughters are children.
McCain has a son in the Marines and a son at the U.S. Naval Academy. The Giuliani kids are in college. As for Mitt Romney, who was a Mormon missionary during Vietnam, in August he exhibited appalling judgment when a peace activist asked him why his five grown sons had not served in the military. Romney answered, "One of the ways my sons are showing support for our nation is helping me get elected because they think I'd be a great president." Parents with children serving in Iraq must shudder.
According to the Gallup poll, 18 percent of American voters served in the military. I never served myself, so I am in no position to attack others for not having served. Still, all things being equal, I'd rather vote for a candidate who has served in the military and knows the horrors of war. I would imagine other non-veterans would agree, because we appreciate the sacrifices made by those who stepped up when others did not.
Yet even veterans don't insist that candidates be vets. In August, Gallup found that GOP presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani had the highest favorability rating (64 percent favorable, 29 percent unfavorable) among military veteran voters. McCain garnered a 52 percent favorable rating; Obama, 44 percent.
Back to the chicken hawk label. Three years ago, Democrats shamelessly donned a military mantle. In a display of craven opportunism, they embraced an argument that seemed phony then, and now has vanished. They argued their candidate was better because he was a combat vet. Today, none of the Dems' top three candidates has a military record.
Here are three words you won't hear from the nominee at the 2008 Democratic National Convention: Reporting for duty.