Mona Charen

Kerry's website notes that he served as "co-founder" of Vietnam Veterans Against the War. One of the other key figures was Al Hubbard, who spelled America with a "k." Kerry participated in one of VVAW's most famous protests, Dewey Canyon III, "a limited incursion into the country of Congress." Members of VVAW marched on Washington wearing tattered fatigues. They circled the Capitol and attempted to gain entry to Arlington National Cemetery. By nightfall, they had settled in front of the White House. While one of their number played taps, veterans -- including Kerry -- stood up one by one to throw the medals they had earned in Vietnam over the White House fence.

Years later, Kerry's medals turned up, framed, on his office wall in Washington, D.C. A reporter asked him if these were the same medals he had so theatrically thrown over the White House fence. Kerry was forced to acknowledge that he had thrown some other sailor's medals and kept his own. Mr. Both Ways. Some days he said America needed to feel ashamed of what it had done in Vietnam. On other days, when other winds were blowing, he claimed to be proud of his service.

How does that make sense? If America did something fundamentally "wrong" in Vietnam, as Kerry again insisted in his announcement speech, can any serviceman look back with pride on his participation? Kerry doesn't appear to have worked this out morally as, say, a Japanese soldier might need to do after World War II. The Japanese could reason: "I did my duty. That's the best I can say of my participation in an aggressive war." But Kerry's Vietnam War changes as his current political needs change. His moral reasoning is as shallow as yesterday's poll.

Mona Charen

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist, political analyst and author of Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help .
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