Thirty-year-old war not a campaign issue

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 31, 2004

U.S. Sen. John McCain, himself a Vietnam POW, delivered a brief but impassioned plea on the Senate floor Wednesday morning.

He asked that what happened during that long and contentious war be left in the past rather than become an issue for the presidential candidates.

Throughout the campaign, questions about President Bush’s service in the National Guard and questions about senator and veteran John Kerry’s actions after the war have haunted these two men.

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Democrats accuse Bush of not serving his country during the war, forgetting that they defended President Clinton on the same charges.

Republicans, meanwhile, say Kerry is unpatriotic because he criticized the war once he returned home. Shades of that kind of tactic turned Georgia’s Max Cleland from a war hero to a non-patriot.

Vietnam was in many ways a dark time for our country, not only because of the political missteps that kept us too long in a war we couldn’t win but because of the battle lines drawn on American soil.

No one should use those years as a way to score political points or rate patriotism. Both Kerry and Bush served their country in different ways during the war, and both have unarguably served their country since.

We have come too far as Americans from the Vietnam war to slog again through the mud being slung over this issue in the presidential campaign.