Decorated for shooting a fleeing enemy soldier in Vietnam and haunted by the trophy-hungry ease with which he did so, the young Kerry returned to the United States and found that his fantasy was dead in the water. He sniffed the anti-establishment breeze and re-invented himself as a veteran’s PT 109Malcolm X. For this to work, all honour and dignity had to be taken from the men who had fought the North Vietnamese. Thanks largely to his agitprop and fraternisation with the enemy, his brothers-in-arms were transmogrified into war criminals and baby-killers. Unlike Bill Clinton in this respect, he didn’t so much feel their pain as personally cause it. Last week, Senator Kerry did something – trivial in itself – which symbolised his career perfectly: decked out in fatigues for the sake of political self-promotion, he shot a goose but wouldn’t carry the carcass.
I watched the SBS Cutting Edge special about the two presidential candidates aired on Wednesday night. I dare say the makers intended their audience to abandon any remaining illusions they might have had that George W. Bush had redeeming characteristics. Kerry, however, was portrayed as a deep-thinking seer and profound intellect. I found myself, regardless, being drawn to the nonchalant rebelliousness of the young Bush. The young Kerry was a nerdish blowhard. George wanted a good time so he drank, partied, played Rugby and got himself elected president of Delta Kappa Epsilon. Earnest John lectured people, played soccer, opposed the Vietnam War and so – naturally – went there anyway to see if he couldn’t write himself an heroic Kennedy coconut story. Ironically, GWB had far more in common with the real JFK than Kerry. Still does. Sorry to return again to the Goose Incident but this is not a man likely to “bear any burden.”
One of the many reasons I like this essay is that I recently read George and Laura; Portrait of an American Marriage by Christopher Anderson. The book has some hilarious chapters about Bush as a young man.
I particularly liked reading about Bush’s return to Midland after Harvard Business School and before his marriage. For a rich kid, Bush was certainly no materialist when it came to his clothes. According to Anderson, Bush would wear clothing his friends had cast off. If he had to dress up, he would wear his father’s hand-me-down suits that were two sizes too big for him. The funniest part was that when the tassels fell off his Bass Weeguns, he reattached them–with tape. I was laughing aloud at this when it occurred to me that the author’s intent behind his recounting of all this was not necessarily benign toward President Bush. All I can say is that after reading the book, I had far more respect for and warm feelings toward the President. He is authentic–unlike Kerry who’s life has been scripted for this moment since before he went to Viet Nam.
But–I can’t say it nearly as elegantly as The Currency Lad has:
Chesterton wrote that when Our Lord was establishing his Great Society “he chose for its corner-stone neither the brilliant Paul nor the mystic John, but a shuffler, a snob, a coward – in a word, a man.”
Hat tip: Powerline