Do War Presidents Do Better at the Polls?

News at Home

Mr. Greenberg is the author of NIXON'S SHADOW: THE HISTORY OF AN IMAGE (2003). He teaches history and political science at Yale University

Though major combat is over in Iraq and Afghanistan, George W. Bush likes to describe himself as a"war president." No doubt that's partly because he and his campaign team think that such an image will help him get re-elected. When we recall Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War or Franklin D. Roosevelt during World War II, we impart to them a heroic aura, imagining Americans muting political rivalries and rallying behind the president and the war at hand. Few citizens, we suppose, could have opposed these valiant leaders.

But serving as president during wartime has in fact been a mixed blessing and certainly no guarantee of re-election . Lincoln and FDR, who led the nation through cataclysmic wars, were indeed re-elected, but not without difficulty. Presidents who waged more remote and less popular wars, such as Harry S. Truman and Lyndon B. Johnson, found incumbency a liability. Although polls suggest that Bush should feel good about his prospects in November, he shouldn't expect that wartime leadership will ensure his victory. On the contrary, his best hope may be convincing the public that he also knows how to talk about peace and problems at home.

The question for Bush is whether he'll be perceived as a Roosevelt or Lincoln, or as a Truman or Johnson. In 1944, when FDR sought his fourth term, the United States and the Allied powers seemed likely to prevail over Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. Yet bloody combat continued across Europe and the Pacific, and peace remained a distant hope. More than 7 million Americans were under arms. The country was fully mobilized.

But the fact that the nation's and the world's fate hung in the balance didn't guarantee a Roosevelt cakewalk. The proposals FDR outlined in his 1944 State of the Union address got nowhere in a Republican-heavy Congress. Thomas E. Dewey, the GOP nominee, slammed the president as an incipient dictator and (in a foretaste of future Republican campaigns) a pawn of radicals.

It certainly helped FDR that the public approved of his wartime leadership—but probably more important was the robust prosperity that the country was finally enjoying. FDR pollster Hadley Cantril's surveys found that the burning issues in 1944 were domestic. Accordingly, FDR campaigned on an"economic bill of rights" that promised 60 million jobs, help for small businesses, and the construction of homes, hospitals, and highways. Although he won a fourth term comfortably, he garnered fewer electoral votes in 1944 than he had in 1932, 1936, or 1940.

Bush also might hope to create an aura like that of Abraham Lincoln, who is remembered today for holding the Union together during dark times. But even though Lincoln governed during the bloodiest war ever on American soil—the number of deaths at the Battle of Gettysburg alone dwarf those on Sept. 11—he didn't have an easy road to re-election or even to renomination.

In early 1864, victory for the North, once a sure thing, seemed newly elusive. Republican leaders considered Lincoln's emerging plans for reconstructing the South too timid; some also fumed over his suspension of habeas corpus . Boomlets sprang up to replace him on the GOP ticket with a more passionately antislavery candidate such as Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase, Gen. John C. Fremont, or Gen. Benjamin Butler.

The Democrats, for their part, nominated the disgruntled Gen. George B. McClellan, whom Lincoln had fired as head of the Union army. McClellan attacked the president's handling of the war and urged conciliation with the South. For much of the summer of 1864, many people, including Lincoln, expected McClellan to win. But a sudden series of military victories in the South, including Gen. William T. Sherman's conquest of Atlanta, turned the tide. Internal GOP opposition to Lincoln faded, McClellan softened his opposition to the war, and the president won in November with 55 percent of the vote.

Incumbency was even less helpful to those presidents who conducted controversial and remote wars that lacked broad public backing. In those situations, which Bush's predicament resembles more closely, being a wartime president was a hazard when the re-election campaign began.

Truman was never more disliked than in 1952, during the middle of the Korean War. The war initially enjoyed public support but by mid-1951 had become a gory standoff. Casualties mounted, with no prospect of a speedy victory for the U.S.-led United Nations force. By late 1951, the number of Americans who favored dropping nuclear bombs on North Korea to hasten the war's end climbed from 28 percent to 51 percent. Critics spoke spitefully of"Truman's War."

Since 1950, Truman had been inclined to forgo a second full term. Public discontent over the lack of progress in Korea and Truman's consequent unpopularity—his approval ratings would fall to 23 percent by 1952—settled the question. In November 1951, he told his staff that he wouldn't seek re-election, and the next April he announced the decision publicly. If he had run, it's almost impossible to imagine he would have defeated Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, who campaigned as a man of peace.

Lyndon Johnson faced a predicament similar to Truman's. By 1968, the national unity that he had enjoyed in 1964 when he first escalated the Vietnam War had long since dissipated. The portion of Americans who thought the war a mistake climbed from 32 percent in February 1967 to 49 percent in April 1968. The Tet Offensive of Jan. 30, 1968—a coordinated assault by Viet Cong forces on South Vietnamese cities and strongholds—represented a crushing psychological defeat for the United States and South Vietnam, even though in strictly military terms they came out ahead. After Tet, domestic opposition to the war, including from previously hawkish quarters, mushroomed.

Just as Korea had become Truman's War, Vietnam became Johnson's War. His handling of it, including his infamous" credibility gap," mortally wounded his political viability. Sen. Eugene McCarthy's strong second-place finish in the New Hampshire primary on March 12 helped convince Johnson not to run for another term—a decision he announced March 31.

Bush is more popular than either Johnson or Truman was in his final year in office. The occupation of Iraq, for all its headaches, hasn't become the national migraine that Korea was in 1952 or Vietnam was in 1968. But the experience of these presidents may still be instructive. Although Americans will rally behind military actions, their appetite for such adventures is fickle and must be watched carefully . Presidents who can't detect a shift in the prevailing mood, and who can't assure the public that they're eager to deliver peace, may rapidly squander the vast capital they reaped from having gone to war.



Besides Lincoln and FDR, other wartime presidents who won re-election were James Madison, who won a second term during the middle of the War of 1812, and William McKinley, who remained popular in 1900 after the Spanish-American War of 1898."Wartime" presidents who won re-election on peace planks include Woodrow Wilson and Richard Nixon. When Wilson sought re-election in 1916, World War I had already begun in Europe, but the United States hadn't entered the fighting, and Wilson campaigned on a promise not to get involved. Nixon likewise won a second term in 1972 largely because Americans believed he was finally bringing an end to American involvement in Vietnam; a treaty was signed the next January. Like Truman and Johnson, James K. Polk did not profit electorally from military success. Despite the U.S. victory in the Mexican-American War, Polk did not run for re-election. And George H.W. Bush, most recently, lost his 1992 re-election bid despite the American victories in Panama in 1989 and the Gulf War in 1991.

This piece first ran in Slate and is reprinted with permission of the author. Click here to see a list of his other History Lesson columns in Slate.

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More Comments:

Jeanne D Rushton - 10/1/2005

It is nice to be able to come back after so much time has passed and so many so much water has passed under the bridge. Today most of us know and accept that George Bush is a liar and incompetent as well. No one has ever proved that Kerrt's wounds were faked. And Bush's cronies started that rumor.But this Presidency has turned out so badly no one is even concerned with these problems anymore.

Bill Heuisler - 4/10/2004

Mr. Pettit,
You keep asking me to define words you brought up and applied to the US and the Bush Administration - words like gulag, terroristic and how sanctions "murdered" are interpretive and subjective. your use of them on HNN shows ignorance, political blindness or bias.
One more try. Then I'm giving up on you:

Gulag is easy, but terroristic and murder are in the eye of the peculiar beholder. For instance a beholder who imagines that the subject of Human Rights Law has any meaning or importance at all in the real world - who imagines that the subject is taken seriously. In fact, discussing International Law non-specifically (Maritime, border disputes or Geneva Convention) as though a science unto itself and using subjective terms like Murder and Terror in application exhibits pathetic naivete'. The attempt to selectively apply one's biases and enforce them through so-called World disapproval has failed miserably because there are no standards applied equally to all; words like Third World, Colonial, imperial, etc. give you away and make you seem foolish.

Lastly, "...when one is talking about recovering for human rights violations, specific pre-meditated intent still is not required...negligence and recklessness still apply." is nonsense. Recovering what? Money?
Bill Heuisler

chris l pettit - 4/10/2004

I happen to have a juris doctor Bill...as well as an LLM in Human Rights Law. Human Rights Law is my chosen profession

And to enlighten you a little more, I am talking about criminal law...as is articulated in international law. Civil law is quite different, but I can tell you that when one is talking about recovering for human rights violations, specific pre-meditated intent still is not required...negligence and recklessness still apply. Maybe it is you who needs to take a few law courses. Crimes against humanity, terrorism, and the violations I list are criminal violations under international law. There are several cases that show that states can be held liable for these crimes (such as the Nicaragua case where the US was held liable for crimes against humanity for supporting the terrorist activities of the Contras - US state terror Bill...see it is not too hard). Unfortunately, you can't imprison a state, much like you can't imprison a corporation for criminal negligence, so other methods of restitution have to be found.

So I take it you are not going to furnish those definitions...I am sorry to hear that. I just hope before you continue to look foolish and stick your foot in your mouth you might read a little and acquire the knowledge necessary to discuss the topics intelligently. I am sorry if that is a little harsh, and I tried to treat you as an academic equal, but you insist on sinking to Mr. Livingstone's level of existence.

I do not preach...merely analyse the facts as presented. I tend to be as apolitical as you can get...opposing both the left and the right for their flawed policies.

I do have encyclopedias...and lie does not exists as an independent entity in any of them, nor do several other terms you listed. They all exist within the CONTEXT of the different occurrences when they were employed to describe the historical happenings...thus they are WORDS needing a dictionary to DEFINE them. And you must examine the context of the language surrounding them and the supporting data.

I must end this discussion as it seems talking to you is like bouncing a rubber ball off a wall...I empathise with you Bill...having a poor educational background often leads to such biased positions and resistance to true progress...you can see it all throughout history...if you would just read some.

Bill Heuisler - 4/9/2004

I said what I meant. Have you no encyclopedias in your rarified social stratum? Before you wax overly didactic earn a Juris Doctor. Your mangled "definition" of legal terminology confuses Civil and Criminal Law and explains how someone of your vastly elevated education could be so mistaken and solicitous at the same time. Specialization has fouled your anchor. My condolences. Please read more before you preach. And lose the political animus.
Bill Heuisler

chris l pettit - 4/9/2004

I feel sorry that you feel below me, as that was not my intent. As you might see from the post, I invite you to join the discussion and even discuss things on your terms as an academic equal. I am waiting for the definitions as at the moment it is you who is not partaking in the discussion. I appreciate the comment about nuances, but believe I do a fine job of dealing with the nuancesd...it is you who tend to stray toward the black and white side of things a lot of the time.

On legal terminology...the reason I employ it was explained in my post...because humanity decided that universal legal terminology was the most objective way of dealing with solving disputes by establishing definitions we all could settle on...or at least use. Are there weaknesses and ambiguities? Sure, but every system has them...and the legal system has a heck of a lot less than any partisan, religious, cultural or other system you can find.

You are correct that intent plays a role, but guess what...for terrorism, war crimes and such international law...the culpability of an actor needs as little as negligence or gross negligence, a knowledge that something has the likelihood of occurring...determined by a resonableness standard. The most stringent requirement is recklessness...that an actor knew something had a high likelihood of occurring and still proceeded. Most US actions I speak of go way beyond even recklessness. I most occasions there is evidence that US forces and the US government know for a fact things will occur without a doubt and in fact build that in as part of contingency planning. legally there simply is no refutation. I will again point out that the international treaties I speak of have been ratified by the US Senate, so we are not talking about some international law existing in space somewhere...we are talking about a part of US law as articulated by the Constitution. As a proud American, I am sure you won't want to denounce the Constitution or policies that violate sacred US law.

I think you meant dictionary, not encyclopedia. The words you listed are just that...words. You have to look at the context and definitions used (see...what did I tell you about you seeing black and white more often). Words mean nothing without the context we attach, which is why we must define the terminology as we use it and then support it.

So define your terms Bill...if you need me to say it - as an equal. I think we are all equals and human beings on mostly the same level. It is your perception that turns me into a self righteous academic. please join the discussion.


Bill Heuisler - 4/8/2004

You ask where was I when, "some on the fringes of the right were explicitly calling Bush a murderer?" You obviously mean Clinton, but giving me responsibility for the fever swamps of the Right is a little unfair unless you'll accept responsibility for LaRouche and Carpenter. That said, my comparison was of the adjacent HNN posters only. Hypocrisy is self evident: You wrote "Kerry earned the awards", but "Bush may have lied about his service". Don't you see the dissonance? Notice how none of you have addressed the actual issue of the decorations, but spent your time putting me in my place & reinforcing each other.

Of course I'm full of it most of the time. So are you. That's what makes us lovable. Mr. Pettit says I don't "promote academic responses", exhibit a "lack of scholarship" while (of course) he and others speak in "The academic realm". Pompous? That's not lovable. I'll take Mr. Livingstone any time. Pettit says the US has terrorist policies, a gulag, is imperial, Fascist and has promoted murder. Evidently "academic realm' doesn't understand concepts, but enjoys tossing trendy words that seem profound to Sophomores. Complexity is such a bother.

Mr. Pettit, you're a teacher? Better buy an encyclopedia, look up lie, gulag, Fascism, imperial and murder. Such concepts are neither as simplistic as you wish, nor can such words be modified by prolix equivocation. Dictionary definitions of legal terms relevant in a court of law nearly always specify intent. Intent requires calculation or premeditation. In your apparent malice you never seem to allow for failure or flaw when the US is involved. My level is beneath yours so perhaps I don't understand how intent can be imputed solely through your opinion.

But then, I'm not in your realm.
Bill Heuisler

Derek Charles Catsam - 4/8/2004

Bill --
because those other issues are not what is on the table here. Grind your axes elsewhere. Someone here said, lacking evidence, that Kerry faked his purple hearts.
When did I "question Bush's veracity with nothing but opinions?" You constantly argue with things people never said, or warp them to make them more nefarious than they are.
Kerry did not award himself the purple hearts. He nor anyone eles ever denied that he did not take the sorts of wounds others did. But he certainly earned theawards, rampant and irresponsible speculation notwitstanding. How Kerry can take heat for this, and Bush, who may well have lied about his service, does not earn your contempt is beyond me. But it all comes down to the same thing for you: Party. Period.
As for indignation about calling the President a murderer, where were you when some on the fringes of the right were explicitly calling Bush a murderer?
I did not realize that to take a stand on anything one must take a stand on everything. That seems to be the gist of your post. If that is the case, you have a lot of catching up to do yourself. This, Bill, is why so many of us think you are full of it most of the time. You are a gotcha journalist without portfolio.

Ben H. Severance - 4/8/2004

Accepted. It happens all the time. As for your last name, NY pitcher Andy Pettitte keeps coming to mind. I like to tell people my name is Severance with an "A" as in deliverance from "E"vil.

chris l pettit - 4/8/2004

I misspelled your last name and apologise profusely, as I know firsthand what it is like to have your last name butchered on a daily basis...Petit anyone? I actually had the nickname of Tiny in high school because of it...haha.

Bill - If the posts were only attacking Kerry's integrity that would be one thing, but the posts attacking him personally and accusing him of not fighting and being wounded in Vietnam...again a huge difference. By the way...what would you call where our government disappears individuals to? What would you call Guantanamo Bay? How do you possibly defend them without qualifying as prejudiced and immoral, with a total lack of regard for basic human rights and values enshrined in every constitution, religion, international law, and cultural tradition? Surely you must be an atheist, for I know of know religion that allows such a blatant disregard of human life and dignity (and yes, i have degrees in Comparative Religion as well so I do know what I am talking about.


chris l pettit - 4/8/2004

Bill...you really should read my posts more carefully...also the posts of others. You continue to substitute your definitions of terms for the way others have used them and defined them. My post stated that a case could be made that our government is fascist...and not just the current government. I follow that up with an explanation of why in the context of the way I am defining fascist...dictionary definition backed up by historical fact. I demonstrate how the historical facts and political figures involved fit the definitions. I do the same thing with terrorism...and even grant that the US and Israel employ a different (albeit totally hypocritical) definition of terrorism than does international law, dictionaries, or most of the rest of the world (there are those who use even more hypocritical definitions than the US does). I choose to avoid nationalistic definitions and stick with the accepted dictionary and international law definitions. I explain the issue of culpability...the legal terms that are relevant in a court of law...the most objective forum we have available since other argument are obviously tainted by partisanship, religious beliefs, and sociological moral structures that necessarily shade the argument. If you want to provide me with your definitions of the terms used...I would be glad to debate it on your terms. I learned long ago that the only way to change minds or show people the foolishness of their positions, as well as discovering the mistakes in your own position is to discuss things according to their terms so they begin the discussion in the position of strength...having better understanding of their terms than you do. So define your terms Bill...and we will discuss things on your level, i am fine with that. I defend my positions and maintain that a case can be made for the US having a fascist mentality, although I also make the caveat that I do not like using that terminology and would rather call it for what it is factually (READ THE POST AGAIN). I also think that our government partakes in terrorism. Define your terms so we can debate it speaking of the same thing instead of you trying to inflame partisanship and outrage using generalised terms that have not been properly defined to make a point.

The difference between my posts and the above (I won't speak for the others out of respect for their positions although I would defend them as well) is that I actually lay out my terms and define them as well as provide plenty of backup for my positions while Mr. Livingstone simply pontificates about Kerry never being wounded in Vietnam...a personal attack that cannot be defended with factual backup...just assertions. That is a HUGE difference. So you ask where the outrage is? I am not outraged, but appalled at your lack of scholarship and academic structure, as well as your purely inflammatory comments that do nothing but enflame instead of promoting academic responses. If you look at Mr. Severence's and my discussions you will see that they are in the academic realm and that we are discussing things cordially and working out our definitional bases so that we can understand how each other approaches the topic. That is how true scholarship works...you don't try and convince...you work towards a common understanding and develop each others positions more fully. Drop the self-righteousness and join a decent discussion for once. I feel you and Mr. Livingstone may be two birds of a feather otherwise.


Bill Heuisler - 4/7/2004

Adam, Derek and Ralph,
Examine your consciences. Where's the outrage when three posts below dogma-doubles say the President deliberately misled (Pfiffner) altered the truth (Rushton) claimed the threat was eminent (Fisher) want to "hang the bastard" call him a thief and a half-witted twit (Melvin)? What about Pettit claiming the US is Fascist, created a gulag, promoted imperial money making opportunities, saying our policies are terroristic and that US, UN sanctions actually murdered Iraqi civilians. Liar? Thief? Murderer?

Yet you squeal indignantly when a vet questions Kerry's integrity. Kerry called vets murderers and war criminals, yet you defend his claims of heroism on the basis of lack of evidence. But he insists on keeping records sealed.

Are you all aware a Purple Heart is supposed to be recommended by a superior from incident or after-action reports? Seldom do award-recommendations come from the awardee - seldom three times, with no sick bay each time. Derek, the witnesses are different for each incident; not all agree on Kerry's merit and few have details on his three shrapnel wounds - one of which is allegedly from an M-40. Friendly fire? A short round? Records are sealed. If you question W's veracity with nothing but opinions, then fairness demands you allow questioning of Kerry's. Another question: Did the terribly maimed Senator Cleland of Georgia get a Purple Heart when he tried to pick up ordinance on the training field and it exploded? Bob Dole had the right side of his body shot away over a ten-hour period while he lay in the open after trying to rescue a member of his unit under intense fire. Did he deserve a Silver Star? General Clark was cited for the same medal as Kerry after his arm was shredded by enemy fire as he tried to drag a member of his platoon to safety. Admit it, these comparisons are ludicrous and insulting. Why?

Vets will compare, vets will question, and those without similar experience or knowledge sound a little silly and presumptious standing in judgement.

Your crocodile-complaints are ludicrous when others use terms like murderer, Fascist, liar, bastard, thief and war criminal when referring to the US, the President and our troops in Vietnam. When you say nothing about these epithets, but condemn a vet for questioning an issuance of medals based on awardee reports, you are hypocrites.
Are you all aware North Vietnamese General Giap credited groups like Kerry's with helping him achieve victory in a 1985 memoir? Giap wrote, if not for organizations like Kerry's VVAW, Hanoi would have considered conditional surrender after the Tet disaster.

So, the lack of post-wound medical treatment and the use of the three-wound policy to cut Kerry's combat exposure so he could go home and stab his brothers in arms in their long-suffering backs raises questions doesn't it?
A little evenhandedness would be appropriate.
Bill Heuisler

Derek Charles Catsam - 4/6/2004

Ralph --
Were I the type, I'd do one of those dopey semi-colon, hyphen, end-perentheses things to indicate that I am winking in ironic sympathy. But I am not the type. I don't even like promiscuous use of exclamation points.

Ben H. Severance - 4/6/2004

The first sentence of this article seems very premature, especially given the spike in guerrilla warfare and counter-insurgency operations in Iraq. Nevertheless, war presidents do enjoy a certain popularity as long as whatever war they happen to be fighting is going well. It is telling that Kerry has lost ground in the polls over the last week despite the Bush Administration's discomfiture over Clarke's allegations and the increased violence in Iraq. No doubt, the fiendish mutilation of American contractors has helped strengthen popular support for U.S. military actions in that country.

The article's most relevant observations concern public perceptions of Truman and LBJ regarding Korea and Vietnam respectively. Most Americans supported military intervention in Vietnam until the Tet Offensive. Will there be an Iraqi version of Tet some time soon? Perhaps during the hot summer months when Republicans and Democrats are meeting in their conventions? The current difficulties with the Islamic Cleric Sadr and his fanatical band of black-shirted Shiitte militia certainly suggests the potential for a major insurrection against U.S. led nation-building. But that all remains to be seen. In the meantime, Bush's reputation for ruthlessness towards terrorists continues to reap a bountiful political harvest.

Ralph E. Luker - 4/6/2004

That's "took," not "had took" -- didn't get "had" deleted before I "submitted." Apologies to Derek Catsam.

Ralph E. Luker - 4/6/2004

Mr. Livingston, You once asked me to let you know whether you should be posting at HNN. I happen to think that you should, but I also think that you should reserve your "contempt" for people who have genuinely earned it. There is no indication that Senator Kerry's record in Viet Nam was anything other than honorable and you should put aside mere partisanship and acknowledge that. Your comments here are only a perverse reminder that your candidate for president had took privileged shelter from service in Viet Nam. Save your "contempt" for those who've earned it.

Marc "Adam Moshe" Bacharach - 4/5/2004

I am amazed at the level of blind hatred some conservatives have towards anyone who does not share in their policy preferences. John Kerry is a war hero who fought bravely in Vietnam when many thousands chose the many roads to avoid the draft. If you don't agree with his policy, don't vote for him. If you think he is a liar, or a two-face, don't vote for him, but to sink to such low levels of attacking a decorated war veteran who risked his life in war is so disgraceful, it demonstrates just how low some are willing to go.

I am happy to say that for all of their faults, no prominent liberal has ever, to the best of my knowledge, attacked the unimpeachable war record of heroes on the right, like Bob Dole, George H.W. Bush, and John McCain (as well as many others). What is pointed out is the fact (the demonstrated fact) that George W. Bush did not serve in warfare, and many not even have completed his tour of duty in the National Guard (no one has yet claimed the $10,000 reward offered to any eye witness who can come forward and vouch for him). I don’t know what Bush did during those years and I in no means wish to downplay the National Guard, but I am more than happy to concede he probably served his time exactly like he says.

However, I KNOW what Kerry was doing: He was serving with honor in combat. What Mr. Livingston’s post makes clear is that even brave men and women who serve their country in combat will have their service challenged, their risks minimized, their military record trashed if they oppose this president. What a sad state of affairs in this country when men who went over to Vietnam, like Gore and Kerry, are not even given their due credit for going, while those who did not fight in Vietnam (Bush and Cheney) are defended ferociously whenever people ask why. I must say, for what it is worth, I believe that any respect Mr. Livingston may have earned by serving in Vietnam is wiped clean as soon as he trivializes another veteran who risked their life. Your post is a disgrace to all military service, Mr. Livingston.

Derek Charles Catsam - 4/5/2004

How about some actual evidence about the allegations about Kerry? This seems remarkably akin to the smear campaigns in that vast right wing conspiracy that accused Clinton of murder, rape, and just about every other possible crime. I do not believe that the military was simply duped and that Kerry was actually not wounded in combat, and there is the tricky matter of the testimonials of almost every single soldier who served under Kerry.

Jeanne D Rushton - 4/5/2004

I am sorry you were wounded in Viet Nam. But I've read several of your responses and I am more concerned about all the hate that just seems to ooze out of you. You say you'd never vote for Kerry. Bush never saw a day of combat either and he seems to have altered the truth about the time he did spend in the National Guard. I guess you'll want to vote for Ralph Nader. Or maybe you don't really vote at all.

William Livingston - 4/5/2004

Just wish I could justify my all too frequent typos on my wounds, but unfortunately, I may not. The family tells me, you know how helpful one's family may be on occasion, "You've always been a bit of a ding-a-ling & there's no blaming it on having gotten yourself shot up in Viet-Nam." Ah well...:-)))

William Livingston - 4/5/2004

For all David Greenburg makes a good case in his essay he doesn't account for the growing scandel about Kerry's underseved Purple Hearts, which scandel is drawing incresing attention online among veterans. For instance, "NewsMax.com" reports that according to B.G. Burkett, author of Stolen Valor, the thus far definitive work on individuals who've falsified their Viet-Nam War service recods or falsely claim to have fought in 'Nam Kerry's "Purple Hearts were awarded for self-reported injuries that were virtually nonexistent...He never got a day of treatment, he never spent a day in a medical facility..."

Kerry's paper wounds may impress some people who make their living by manipulating words, but they do not impress Yours truly, who spent ten months & three days, the first & longest go-round, in Naval & Military hospitals subsequent to being WIA during a firefight. Indeed, I have nothing but contempt for Kerry's unearned Purple Hearts.