Kerry is again complaining
that Bush has challlenged his patriotism, which he infers from Republican criticism of his voting record. I don't know what he means.
Dictionary.com defines patriotism as "Love of and devotion to one's country" or "love of country and willingness to sacrifice for it." It doesn't mention serving in the military. Although that could be a sign of patriotism, it isn't a sine qua non
Patriotism is one of those concepts like bipartisanship the absence of which is used as a rhetorical device, as we saw in the House hearings on impeachment of Bill Clinton. It is also used as a basis for charging one's opponent with unfair campaigning. Any criticism of your record can be characterized as an attack on your patriotism, because the term is so broad and vague that just about anything can be taken as insult to one's motives.
Here's an offer. I won't impugn Mr. Kerry's patriotism if he'll wrapping himself in his service in Vietnam every other sentence. But the more he does that, the less I think of his service, because it makes me feel like he sees it more as a resume item than something sacred and honorable.
The other night I saw a scene in Band of Brothers
where an officer awarding a Purple Heart to a soldier in a hospital, who lifted himself and grinned for the photographer in the room. The other soldiers commented on how this guy had campaigned for several such medals, one of which was for having a boil on his leg lanced. It was redolent of gaming the system.
I don't think Kerry did anything in Vietnam that any other decent person in his situation would have done. His service should be acknowledged, but he wasn't what I think of as a war hero. Yes, he put himself at risk to help one of his crew, but he also apparently worked on getting those Purple Hearts so that he could go home before his tour was over.
A good friend of mine was shot in the back in Vietnam and spent the next year recovering before he could go back to his normal duty. I had to ask him to tell me about it. He didn't see himself as a hero. I have other friends who served in WWII, who talk about it as something they're still awed by. Kerry uses his service as a club to counter any criticism of his voting record. The more I hear that, the less I think of him as a true patriot.