WASHINGTON, D.C. -- In my line of work -- documenting the fortitude and perseverance of American soldiers, sailors, airmen, Guardsmen and Marines for FOX News -- we often interrupt a story to inject a relevant earlier chronological event through the use of a device called a "flashback." Such historical references often provide a context for later events. The 2006 political campaign season has been a long flashback to the 1970s.
During the so-called "Vietnam Era" it was commonplace for critics of the long war in Southeast Asia to denigrate those serving in the armed forces. Campus protesters, politicians and the media routinely depicted the young Americans fighting in the rice paddies, hamlets and triple-canopied jungles of Vietnam as baby killers, murderers and war criminals. Our South Vietnamese allies were venal cowards or worse.
The current campaign and the long war we are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan have produced similar rhetoric from the potentates of the press and leftwing politicos. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) likened our troops to the armies of Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin and Cambodia's Pol Pot. Without a shred of evidence to back up his claim, Congressman Jack Murtha (D-Pa.) accused U.S. Marines of "kill(ing) innocent civilians in cold blood." Newsweek magazine invented a story about U.S. military guards flushing a Qur'an down a toilet at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and Chris Hedges of the New York Times described U.S. troops as "poor kids from Mississippi or Alabama or Texas who could not get a decent job or health insurance." But it doesn't stop there.
This week, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) told college students in California, "you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. And if you don't, you get stuck in Iraq." In other words, those serving in harm's way are stupid.
When presidential spokesman Tony Snow pointed out that our present military is the brightest and best educated in history, Kerry belatedly apologized -- after attacking Snow as a "stuffed-suit White House mouthpiece standing behind a podium" and then claiming his insult to our troops was a "botched joke" aimed at President Bush.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.