Editor's Desk

Tom DeLay and the Bull Moose Bully

Never send a wimp to do a raging bull's job.

By 3.12.02

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Ever since the liberals discovered John Ashcroft, Tom DeLay hasn't been in the news as much. In best Texas fashion he doesn't say much -- so that when he does say something it sticks. Yesterday the Washington Times' Inside Politics section drew attention to an exchange DeLay had on CNN regarding Sen. John Kerry. DeLay and Trent Lott had criticized Tom Daschle's opportunistic remarks about the War on Terrorism, which elicited this lecture from the snooty Kerry:

"Let me be clear tonight to Senator Lott and to Tom DeLay. One of the lessons I learned in Vietnam, a war they did not have to endure, those who try to stifle the vibrancy of our democracy and shield policies from scrutiny behind a false cloak of patriotism miss the real value of what our troops defend and how we best defend our troops. We will ask questions and we will defend our democracy."

Asked to respond on CNN last Saturday, DeLay couldn't have been more on target:

"Well, the last I remember, Senator John Kerry was against the war in Vietnam even though he served in it, and went around the country undermining the military overseas in trying to fight this war and giving aid to those that were trying to run the war from Washington, D.C."

For which he's now been attacked by the likes of Marshall Wittmann, house McCainiac at the Hudson Institute. In his Bull Moose blog, which calls itself the "Project for Conservative Reform," Wittmann terms Delay's "barrage" against Kerry "disgusting" ("to employ the same response that DeLay used against Daschle's comments that originally sparked the exchange").

Wittmann's evidence? "Perhaps, Kerry should not have played the Vietnam card," he writes. "But, Kerry certainly cannot be confused with Hanoi Jane Fonda." He can't? Only because he didn't marry Roger Vadim or Ted Turner. Last spring "Meet the Press" replayed comments Kerry as head of Vietnam Veterans Against the War made at a Senate hearing in 1971. Here's what he argued:

"... I would have to say that, yes, yes, I committed the same kind of atrocities as thousands of other soldiers have committed in that I took part in shootings in free fire zones. I conducted harassment and interdiction fire. I used 50 calibre machine guns, which we were granted and ordered to use, which were our only weapon against people. I took part in search and destroy missions, in the burning of villages. All of this is contrary to the laws of warfare, all of this is contrary to the Geneva Conventions and all of this is ordered as a matter of written established policy by the government of the United States from the top down. And I believe that the men who designed these, the men who designed the free fire zone, the men who ordered us, the men who signed off the air raid strike areas, I think these men, by the letter of the law, the same letter of the law that tried Lieutenant Calley, are war criminals."

Could Jane Fonda have been any more defiant?

Sounds like Wittmann's Project for Conservative Reform should rename itself as Project for Conservative Surrender.

As a staunch advocate of American assertiveness in the world, it's too bad Wittmann allowed his disgust with DeLay to keep him from engaging what DeLay also had to say about Vietnam and the politics of leadership.

"If we had had the leadership of a George W. Bush back in the Vietnam War days, we probably would not have lost that war. We would have gone in and won it. We would have given our soldiers the kinds of weapons that they needed. We would not have the rules of engagement that the liberals put on them. We would have allowed them to win this war.

"And that's what happening here. George W. Bush is giving our military all of the support that they need. They are giving the military all of the weapons that they need, and giving them the international support from a coalition that they need. We're going to win this war because we are focused on it and we have a resolve to win it."

Even sharper was DeLay's reply when asked about Congress's duty to advise and consent as the war expands:

"Yes, Congress should be asking questions behind closed doors. Congress should be informed and briefed by the executive branch and by the Pentagon behind closed doors. If Congress finds something going awry, then Congress should say so behind closed doors. And if they don't get it fixed, then they can go to the media.

"What's going on here is Mr. Daschle, Mr. Kerry and others are going to the media, are questioning in the media and undermining our resolve, or trying to undermine our resolve, for politics.

"I just don't think that's the responsible way to go. And I found out -- or I notice that they also feel it, because they have been backpedaling ever since they've been making those statements, because the American people have reacted vehemently against this kind of playing politics."

In his commentary Wittmann added that maybe it would have been "the better part of valor...for DeLay to remain silent about questioning the patriotic credentials of a decorated veteran who served in a war he avoided." The nation should be grateful to DeLay for refusing to be intimidated by such bogus posturing and one-upsmanship. If DeLay "avoided" the war, so did the overwhelming majority of his generation. Are all of its representatives now honor-bound to posture themselves before a self-described possible war criminal like John Kerry? That wouldn't make for a very "vibrant" democracy, now, would it?

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About the Author
Wlady Pleszczynski is editorial director of The American Spectator and the editor of AmSpec Online.