In today’s Wall Street, Journal James Taranto follows up on Deacon’s “Truth and consequences” with “The Democrats’ patriotism problem.” Taranto’s column also bears on our report from Thomas Lipscomb immediately below regarding the masks of John Kerry.
Taranto observes that this year the Democrats have both decried imaginary Republican attacks on their patriotism and falsely impugned the patriotism of their Republican adversaries. The column places the campaign in the context of the post-McGovern Democratic Party — i.e., the post-Vietnam Democratic Party. The column is full of insight, but here is one especially pointed observation:
After the Sept. 11 attacks, it seemed possible that the antiwar counterculture was a thing of the past. But old habits die hard, and for the most part the Democratic left soon returned to its Sept. 10 mindset. Democrats nominated John Kerry, respected on the left for his antiwar agitation, on the theory that his war-hero pose would establish his patriotism and be sufficient to compensate for his lack of a muscular foreign policy.
Instead it has raised questions about his character. One veteran quoted in “Unfit for Command” puts the matter pungently: “In 1971-72, for almost 18 months, he stood before the television audiences and claimed that the 500,000 men and women in Vietnam, and in combat, were all villains–there were no heroes. In 2004, one hero from the Vietnam War has appeared, running for president of the United States and commander in chief. It just galls one to think about it.”