Thursday, December 16, 2004

Throwing Away Medals

A column in today's Washington Post by Richard Cohen critiques President Bush's decision to award Presidential Medals of Freedom to George Tenet, L. Paul Bremer, and then retired General Tommy Franks.

As Cohen writes:
"Had the president given the awards a moment's thought, he might have asked himself what he was doing. A pretty good argument can be made that Tenet was incompetent. He not only failed to prevent the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 but he failed to protect the president from what has to be a historic embarrassment: the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

As for Franks and Bremer, they cannot -- on the face of it -- both deserve medals. Since coming home from Iraq, Bremer has said the United States did not use enough troops there. "We never had enough troops on the ground," he confided to the Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers in October. This allowed the looting that broke out shortly after Baghdad was captured and the subsequent insurgency. For the record, Franks -- prodded by Donald Rumsfeld -- is the guy who never had enough troops on the ground. Which one deserved the medal? Easy. Neither

Essentially President Bush "threw away" these medals in some sort of political face-saving.

Contrast this with how the Republicans treated John Kerry for his anti-was protest and 'throwing his medals' (or ribbons) during a 1971 war protest. As none other than Rush Limbaugh states:
"As a further public relations coup for our adversaries and to gain more publicity for himself he then threw medals he claimed were his own over the White House garden wall. However, as soon as his medals proved to be a political asset as opposed to a publicity liability he confessed that the medals he threw over the garden wall in fact were not his own and now displays his own medals. He has used them for political advantage ever since and they are now the centerpiece of his presidential campaign. We may never find out who owned the medals he so callously threw over the garden wall or what sacrifices that soldier endured to win those medals. I guess John Kerry wants us to honor his medals which he now so prominently hangs on his wall more than he honored the medals of that fellow veteran. I wonder if John Kerry would have thrown the veteran over the wall wearing those medals if it would have resulted in better press or more accolades from his anti-American admirers."

You can see that the far-right supporters of George W. Bush applaud when medals are thrown at failures who have led America into the quagmire of Iraq, where thousands of young American men and women have died and have been maimed and where no end in sight is seen for our involvement.

But when John Kerry protests a similar war of his generation, they find his protests and ceremonial throwing of medals treasonous, as a "public relations coup for our adversaries."

John Kerry, you are the real American hero. You fought and were wounded for America's mistakes. You came back to America and testified about the failures that we had pursued. You understand where America needs to go.

America and the world needs John Kerry in 2008.



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