Back in the halcyon days of the Kerry campaign, before the Swiftvets got themselves organized, we used to hear about Kerry’s “band of brothers.” This was a reference to some of his Vietnam comrades who publicly supported the Kerry campaign and may have made a difference in the crucial Iowa caucus. To me, though, Kerry’s band of brothers brought to mind his fellow liberal-pacificsts in the Senate, such as Mark Hatfield of Oregon who boasts: “I was the only senator who voted against both the Democrat and Republican resolutions authorizing the use of force in the 1991 Gulf War. In my final years in the Senate, I opposed President Clinton’s decision to send American troops to Bosnia. During my 30 years in the Senate, I never once voted in favor of a military appropriations bill.”
But guess what? Mark Hatfield has endorsed President Bush. Hatfield explains:
My support is based on the fact that our world changed on Sept. 11, 2001, a day on which we lost more American lives than we did in the attack on Pearl Harbor. I know from my service in the Senate that Saddam Hussein was an active supporter of terrorism. He used weapons of mass destruction on innocent people and left no doubt that he would do so again. It was crucial to the cause of world peace that he be removed from power. Having seen atrocious loss in World War II, I understand the devastation of armed conflict. We have paid dearly with American and Iraqi lives for our commitment, but we cannot afford the alternative. Nor can we afford a president who puts a wet finger in the air and turns over his decisions to pollsters.
I’m not sure what significance, if any, Hatfield’s endorsement has. It may help Bush in Oregon, where Hatfield is one of the most popular figures ever. On the other hand, if Oregon is in play, Bush is probably as good as elected whether he wins there or not. Nor do I believe that Hatfield’s endorsement signifies a pro-Bush trend among aging doves. On the other hand, if even Mark Hatfield understands that the world changed on 9/11 to the detriment of John Kerry’s candidacy, then it’s not surprising to see Bush doing relatively well with “security moms” and much better than before with Jewish voters.