One thing voters are learning in this Presidential campaign is that a man's past military service, if heroic, places his subsequent ideas, words and actions respecting his Country, beyond reproach.
That's why it is so maddening to hear the denigration of a man whose military service to America cost him multiple wounds, and who was highly decorated and recognized by the Congress for his intrepidity and bravery in battle. Some have now stooped so low as to question the patriotism of this combat veteran, and in a recent campaign speech one went so far as to mockingly imply that the dissenting activities of this brave American, after he had won many honors on the battlefield, make his very name a byword for being un-American.
No, I'm not referring to John Kerry. The battlefield hero I have in mind is Benedict Arnold, and it was Kerry who brought him up. Railing against Corporate CEO's (Teresa Heinz Kerry presumably exempted) who outsource work internationally or move capital out of the United States, Kerry called them "Benedict Arnolds."
I found the comparison enlightening. The war record of Benedict Arnold, as an American soldier, makes Kerry's four-month, one firefight stint in Vietnam look like child's play (or for you Bush-hating Liberal Democrats out there, next to Arnold's record Kerry was no better than a National Guardsman). In 1775 Captain Arnold co-commanded the American capture of Fort Ticonderoga from the British. The same year Arnold suffered a broken leg in the American attack on Quebec, and he was promoted to brigadier general because of his courage in battle. In October of 1776 Arnold again distinguished himself in a naval battle on Lake Champlain. The following year Arnold led an American force into battle at Norwalk, Connecticut, led the relief of an American garrison at Fort Stanwix, which was besieged by a combined British and Indian force, and in the second battle of Saratoga Arnold fought courageously and was seriously wounded. He was recognized by Congress for his gallantry in that battle and promoted to major general.
That is an impressive war record, yet Kerry's conjuring of Benedict Arnold to illustrate disloyalty to America eloquently confirms that what a man does after his battlefield heroics counts as much and more than the battlefield heroics themselves. Using Kerry's own standard, his Vietnam heroics do not excuse his thirty-year record of Congressional votes against a strong American military and intelligence capability. Nor do his actions on the battlefield excuse him for his Vietnam Veterans Against The War betrayal of his supposed "band of brothers."
Despite his military heroics, nobody holds up Benedict Arnold as a paragon of virtue and leadership; to the contrary, Arnold is scorned for what he did after all those battlefield heroics. Likewise, John Kerry's words and actions since the Vietnam War are what matter now: Kerry has repeatedly opposed a dominant American military and an effective Central Intelligence Agency, simply because he does not consider America a force for good in the world. If, as Kerry tells us, we don't need "Benedict Arnolds" in Corporate Board Rooms, then we surely don't need "John Kerrys" in the Oval Office.
To be fair, there is no denying that John Kerry and Benedict Arnold are different. For example Arnold, having expressed his contempt for America, did not have the audacity to ask the voters to make him Commander in Chief of America's Armed Forces -- Kerry does.