Kerry smears without fear

Posted: Feb 13, 2004 12:00 AM

It is a testament to the dignity of George Bush the Elder that in 1992, he refused to make endless fun of the draft shenanigans of Bill Clinton, who skipped off to Oxford after he received his draft notice to blab endlessly about politics and play strip poker with the lasses.

But he should have said something serious about it. Bush's campaign was so devoid of red meat on Clinton's military deficiencies that it was almost vegetarian in its fear of liberal media pounding.

Twelve years later, seemingly we have role reversal with President George W. Bush. Except there is no evidence of scandal against this president. And the Democrats won't stop making scurrilous accusations. And the media are eagerly promoting it all.

The media would have you imagine that Bush the Elder said "draft dodger" in every sentence on the stump. Wrong. But thanks to the media's funhouse of double standards, the Democrats are getting millions of dollars of free publicity -- not to mention the imprimatur of credibility -- dragging this President Bush through the mud of gutter politics. Republicans have to pay money to put their opposition research on the air. The Democrats can count on the networks to offer it up. On demand. In heavy rotation. For free.

Now that John Kerry has emerged as the Democratic nominee, dragging Vietnam buddies from state to state, he's had the press actively in his corner. Kerry gets to sneer on stage that "some of us know something about aircraft carriers for real," and no journalist can be found denouncing this cheap shot. On NBC News on Feb. 4, Kerry equated Bush's Guard service with deserters and draft dodgers: "If people went to Canada, or if people opposed the war, or if people chose to be in the Guard, that's their choice, and I've never raised that as an issue."

No reporter found it noteworthy that Kerry was doing exactly that. Four days later on NBC, there was Kerry "never raising" the issue yet again. "Just because you get an honorable discharge does not, in fact, answer that question." Days later, accuracy be damned, network reporters were still declaring Kerry was staying above the fray.

The networks seem to be underlining one thing for the American people as the general election begins. Democrats can be as nasty as they want to be; that they can accuse George W. Bush of being "AWOL" without any proof; that like a mob of Michael Moores, they can equate him to a deserter; and that the press will only cheer.

Tom Brokaw greeted Kerry's attacks by stating blandly that the Democrats are "anxious to show they will play hardball" on national security. Great. They won't play hardball with Saddam Hussein, or Kim Jong Il, or France, or Germany, or Russia, or for that matter, anyone opposing the U.S. on national security. But they will play hardball with the Republicans. That ought to help Americans sleep at night.

Kerry's media cheerleaders won't bring up that in 1992, Kerry denounced those who would dare bring up Clinton's draft-dodging record. Kerry lamented: "Are we now to descend, like latter-day Spiro Agnews, and play, as he did, to the worst instincts of divisiveness and reaction that still haunt America? Are we now going to create a new scarlet letter in the context of Vietnam?"

Just imagine what John Kerry (not to mention Tom Brokaw) would have said had Bob Dole tried to restart the draft issue with Clinton in 1996. Why, Clinton had been commander-in-chief for years! He'd sent soldiers into battle in military triumphs (OK, military adventures) to face those imminent threats to America in Haiti, Somalia and Bosnia. Dole would have been scalded as divisive and ugly and wrong. Eight years later, the Kerry camp is spreading dirt with the express goal of being divisive and ugly, and no one dares to call this wrong.

What a sick and pathetic game the Democratic-media complex is playing. As commander-in-chief, Bush has overseen dramatic military victories, first routing the Taliban dictatorship, and then crumbling the cruel and despotic reign of Saddam Hussein. He is a war hero, and a liberator of two nations. Kerry served his country with distinction in Vietnam (hating the anti-communist cause all the way), but how many people did he heroically liberate?

And when he returned, he boiled his "band of brothers" in rhetorical oil. National Review's latest cover story lays out Kerry's raw Senate testimony in 1971. He became the anti-war hero by recklessly charging his fellow soldiers with "crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command," including wild-eyed claims of rape, murder, mutilation, torture, animal cruelty and property destruction reminiscent of "Genghis Khan."

The network Kerry-coddlers haven't touched that yet. Doesn't that say it all?