The World According to Nick
My take on Software, Technology, Politics, and anything else I feel like talking about.
Saturday, August 28, 2004

The Character Debate 

Thursday night I actually watched C-SPAN for the first time ever in my life. It has always one of those things that I blew by while channel surfing. I never actually ever stopped before. Thursday night they replayed coverage of John Kerry's 1971 Congressional Testimony. I've been reading so much about it, and everybody has been espousing so many different opinions, I figured the only right thing to do was actually watch it for myself, and make my own judgements. So here are my thoughts on what I saw:

  • He was very well prepared, and very well put together. It was quite obvious (and one of the Senators even commented on the fact) that he had put quite a lot of thought into what he was saying. His arguments now that he was hasty, or hadn't really thought about the kinds of words he was using are pretty ridiculous. He knew what he was saying. His words were very well chosen to elicit a certain reaction from people.
  • The Senators in the hearing really didn't question him. They tossed him a couple of soft balls which they let him knock out of the park. I got the biggest kick out of the Senator who simply asked what ribbon he was wearing (his Silver Star) and whether that was a Purple Heart he had on (and how many clusters). Seems a little ironic now, given the great controversy over those same awards.
  • He spoke a lot about other people's experiences, not his own. It seems strange now that he's saying he can lead this country based on his service, when back then he didn't seem to utilize any of his own memories during testimony. If his experiences were so "seared" into his mind as he says now, why didn't he talk about them then? Why act as a middle man for other people? Maybe he couldn't, because he really didn't experience all that much.
  • He was either very naive, or very destructive. He spoke almost entirely about the evils of what American troops were doing over there, and how the North Vietnamese would simply lead that whole country peacefully if we left. I don't think he ever once spoke of anything good that Americans might have done in Vietnam. I can understand why so many veterans are upset at him over this testimony.

With that reaction out of the way, did it sway me one way or there about him? Do I feel more confident about John Kerry, or even worse about him? Frankly, no. That was more than 30 years ago for God's sake. Of all the things that are important to me when I go to vote, Vietnam doesn't even come close to making the list. To be more specific, I can't think of any reason why Vietnam would be important to me when I vote ever at all. Why John Kerry thought that this was the ideal center piece for his campaign, I don't know. Even if there was absolutely no controversy over his service, I still wouldn't be swayed by it. The only thing this has done, is bring up the character debate. I hate the character debate. In elections, you debate character when you don't have any real plans or ideas. Politicians in general hate telling you what they'll actually do, because then you can hold them to it. I suppose that's why Kerry is doing this... because he's never actually taken a stand on an issue, and been held to it. It's probably more damaging to look at that, than his character. But that's what this election should be about. What did you do as a Senator, and what would you do as President.

For more on this whole topic, take a read at this piece on how John Kerry broke the truce about Vietnam. Finally, according to Glenn Reynolds, Kerry might be trying to pull an LBJ. Oi.

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Name: Nick
Home: Wauwatosa, WI, United States

I'm a Software Consultant in the Milwaukee area. Among various geeky pursuits, I'm also an amateur triathlete, and enjoy rock climbing. I also like to think I'm a political pundit.


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