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The Manchurian Candidate
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Like most Vietnam veterans, I had hoped the disgraceful spectacle of war protestors venting their hatred of government figures and policies on individual soldiers had been banished to history, like the fading memories of that distant war. Fading, that is, until resurrected by the Manchurian Candidate, that contentious liberal contender who has gratuitously ripped the scab from a national wound in furthering his own ambitions. But then, who better to do this than the man who made that wound so grievous in the first place?

According to Robert L. Jamieson, Jr., a columnist for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, a young soldier in Bainbridge Island, Washington, Jason Gilson, a 23 year old veteran of Iraq, was booed, jeered and mocked by parade watchers, and even the parade announcer, in that very liberal, very politically correct Kerry enclave. Jason, you see, had the unabashed temerity to carry a Bush poster while marching in a Fourth of July event. That's right, a soldier was booed by Americans, in a parade celebrating the birth of this nation, simply for carrying a poster supportive of his commander-in chief. And yes, he was called, "baby killer," perhaps the most despicable epithet hurled at veterans upon their return from combat.

For me, that was the one that truly hurt, the one that got through to me because yes, I had seen dead babies, dead not by our hands but by those of a ruthless enemy who killed anyone even suspected of supporting the South Vietnamese regime or the Americans. And yes, babies died in the arms of their mothers. My most haunting war memory is that of a young mother and her tiny infant son, lying sprawled in the dirt path at the entrance to their hamlet, their midsections horribly ripped open, probably by an AK-47 on full automatic fire. That sight fired me with an unbelievable anger and a desire to inflict a similar fate on their killers, but, as always, the enemy had retreated into their jungle hideaways and we did not find them that day. Unfortunately, such events were not rare and I am sure there are many veterans who carry memories of similar and even worse atrocities.

So imagine, if you will, the feelings of today's soldiers, returning from the current war in Iraq where they have witnessed comparable scenes of death among the innocent, hearing some politically correct, liberal jackasses, so effete they'd never lift a finger to protect themselves, much less their country, scream curses and insults at them for exercising one of the very freedoms that these warriors have been fighting for. Imagine, young Jason hearing that most wounding charge of all, "baby killer" hurled at him by those obnoxious jerks whose very lives he served to protect.

If John Kerry has an ounce of steel in his spine, which I seriously question, he should immediately and without a moment's equivocation, denounce this behavior by his followers on Bainbridge Island and direct all his antiwar supporters to cease and desist before this kind of behavior spreads. A more likely response will be a sanctimonious pronouncement that his followers support the troops; they just don't support the war. I, for one, am sick of this sophistry, this liberal tap-dance of denouncing the war while still proclaiming support for the troops. It is nothing more than a disingenuous artifice they employ because they know their true, totally anti-militaristic views are unacceptable to most Americans, including many Democrats.

One need not be in Mensa to deduce that if you oppose the war then it follows you want the war to end, now, without resolution, without victory. You are against the successful prosecution of the war; you do not want to win; victory is not your goal. Regardless of how nuanced your thinking may be, how, in God's name, can you oppose victory by the troops while piously contending you support them? This is such a transparent charade that sometimes the antiwar leftists just can't maintain it, as demonstrated on Bainbridge Island. That is when their true feelings are revealed and we see them for what they truly are, unchanged from their hateful, spiteful ways of the 60's and 70's. For this, we can thank the Manchurian candidate, whose ambition has unleashed these lying, leftist, phonies upon America once again.

Several weeks ago, I wrote a piece about how the citizens of Northwest Florida had pulled together to build a handicap accessible home for SSGT Justin Tuller, a double amputee veteran of the Iraq war, and his family. That community had a parade and they cheered their veteran. Given a choice, I'd rather live among those folks in Northwest Florida than those on Bainbridge Island, Washington.

I think most Americans would.

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Russ Vaughn
327th Parachute Infantry
101st Airborne Division
Vietnam 65-66


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