John Kerry, Reporting For Duty

On the 35th anniversary of his famous "Genghis Khan" testimony before the Senate, John Kerry has a piece on The Huffington Post today reflecting on his actions then and his feelings about the war in Iraq now. The basic argument Kerry makes is that speaking out against "a policy that is wrong" is the most patriotic thing a person can do and those that use "Swift Boat-style attacks...hurt our democracy even more than they wound their target." Like many of Kerry's arguments, however, he tries so hard to hit every liberal talking point that the core of his argument is rendered incoherent. Here's a taste:

Just as it was in 1971, it is again right to make clear that the best way to support the troops is to oppose a course that squanders their lives, dishonors their sacrifice, and disserves the American people and our principles.True patriots must defend the right of dissent and listen to the dissenters. Dissenters are not always right, but it is always a warning sign when they are accused of unpatriotic sentiments by politicians trying to avoid accountability or debate on their own policies.

We should know by now that those who are right should never fear scrutiny of their policy and thorough debate. In World War I, America's values were degraded, not defended, when dissenters were jailed and the teaching of German was banned in some public schools. It was panic and prejudice, not true patriotism, that brought the internment of the Japanese-Americans during World War II, a measure upheld by Supreme Court justices who did not uphold their oaths to defend the Constitution. We are stronger today because no less a rock-ribbed conservative than Robert Taft stood up at the height of World War II and asserted, ''The maintenance of the right of criticism in the long run will do the country maintaining it a great deal more good than it will do the enemy, and will prevent mistakes which might otherwise occur." --

In recent weeks, a number of retired high-ranking military leaders have publicly called for the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. And from the ranks of this administration and its conservative surrogates, we've heard these calls dismissed as acts of disloyalty or as a threat to civilian control of the armed forces. We have even heard accusations that this dissent gives aid and comfort to the enemy. That line of attack is shameful, especially coming from those who have never worn the uniform.

You know, guys like General Tommy Franks and General Richard Myers.

Anyway, are the troops at The Huffington Post rallying behind Kerry? Well, as of this writing, there were 20 comments. I'll let you be the judge:

DrPaulProteus: "Senator, calling this "a war that has gone off course" seems to me a way for you to justify your support of it. This war was wrong from its inception. It has not "gone off course", many of us predicted it to end up a disaster. A disaster you didn't only not oppose, but enabled. Get lost."

MR: "You should have thought of all this when you ran for President. Maybe the day Richard Clarke testified in front of the 911 Commission that George Bush ignored all the CIA intercepts warning of an imminent attack on the US wasnt the best day for you to go skiing."

Nano: "I suppose better-late-than-never but for those of us who have long voiced the insanity of this war ... what you write seems self-serving..."

TomTomClub: "I NEVER supported this war. Flip-flopping stooges like Kerry destroyed any credibility left in the Democratic party. But I had to vote for SOMEBODY."

ChenZhen: "I voted for you in '04 simply because I believed the Bush administration was worse than anybody had imagined. You WERE NOT the Dem. candidate I wanted to vote for. You voted for this idiotic invasion when others knew better. I'm not sure if you regret that decision, but you should."

stevemarvin: "Senator Kerry, next time you have to vote on matters of life and death and you get really confused about the right thing to do, please give Dennis Kucinch a call. He'll be able to help you out."

kadaniel: "John - you had your chances to oppose the war. You didn't take it. You had your chance to win the Presidency against possibly the most inept a__hole who has ever lived. You blew it. We need leadership at this time, not attempts to make rear view assessments that virtually everyone I know was making 4 years ago. Way too little and way too late."

joeseo: "Sr. Kerry is all spin. Our troops in Iraq die as a result. This time Kerry is part of the system. His duplicity and disingenuinous action on Iraq make him even worse than Lyndon Johnson. He fooled me last election, but never again."

elingles: "John Kerry: dead man walking, dead man talking."

Ouch.

I wonder if Kerry thinks that these attacks "hurt our democracy" too? You know, it's convenient for Kerry to argue that his patriotism is being impugned when people speak out against comments he makes, like say, I don't know, claiming that our troops are terrorizing innocent Iraqi women and children.

By deflecting criticism of policy positions on Iraq to the issue of patriotism, liberals avoid talking about the substance of their arguments; it allows them to be the “victims” of the right-wing attack machine. But now, it seems, even the liberals at The Huffington Post are starting to realize this tactic is nothing but a load of flag-wrapped bull.

Cross-posted at The Political Pit Bull