Editorial 

Red Herrings

Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry had the bad judgment, it seems, to have put himself on the line through active military service during the Vietnam War. As a consequence, he was forced for a solid month to answer charges about the exact nature of his several citations for valor and the circumstances under which they were earned. Nobody doubts, however, that Kerry was exposed to enemy fire -- unlike his adversary, President George W. Bush, who cannot even demonstrate that, for long periods of time during his Air National Guard career, he was even exposed to the risk of weekend drills. Discretion, as we know, is the better part of valor. Young Lieutenant Bush, to give him his due, seems to have been terribly discreet in his avoidance of danger.

Or maybe not so discreet. Evidence continues to turn up that Bush's military record was a good deal less than what he claimed it to be. First there was the revelation -- first documented here in the Flyer six months ago and recently the occasion of renewed national publicity -- that Alabama National Guard aviators who were expecting Bush's arrival in 1972 never saw him. Then there was a spate of news reports indicating that Bush's service in the Texas Air Guard prior to that had been less than exemplary.

The president's attack team has now raised the issue that one such report -- only one of the many -- may have been based in part on typewriter forgery. That's a serious charge if proven true, but the fact is, it hasn't been proved, only alleged, and on highly speculative grounds, at that. Yet a compliant media have allowed the resultant controversy to overshadow the substance of our current commander in chief's military service record -- or the lack of it.

Following upon the utterly spurious "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" campaign against Kerry, this seems likely to be but one more red herring designed not to reveal the truth but to obfuscate and conceal it. It looks fishy to us.

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