IT should come as no surprise that an arch-conservative Web site is questioning whether Representative John Murtha, the Pennsylvania Democrat who has been critical of the war in Iraq, deserved the combat awards he received in Vietnam.He has a good point, but I think he is slightly off-phase. Military service shouldn't make you immune, as long as you don't exaggerate or make stuff up: your record should be left alone. Your behavior after service is fair game. Also, you and your supporters shouldn't make your service the centerpiece of your politics either. Mention it every chance you get, and then it is fair game.
After all, in recent years extremist Republican operatives have inverted a longstanding principle: that our combat veterans be accorded a place of honor in political circles. This trend began with the ugly insinuations leveled at Senator John McCain during the 2000 Republican primaries and continued with the slurs against Senators Max Cleland and John Kerry, and now Mr. Murtha.
Given that, I think Senator J.F. Kerry was fair game in 2004 given the difference between what he said and what he did. He made it an issue, and facts are tough things.
Read the whole thing, but I think JW's final point isn't quite right.