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The Invisible Patriot
April 29, 2004
By John Cory

The GOP machine is currently engaged in a despicable smear campaign against John Kerry. Nothing new. They did the same thing to John McCain and Max Cleland, men who served their country, fought in war, and gave of mind and body.

The GOP has no use for such men, especially when they fail to toe the party line or meet the GOP definition of "true Americans."

There are so many things wrong with these attacks and smears that it boggles the mind, and perhaps voices will be raised to counter this slander. But defending John Kerry, John McCain, and Max Cleland is not the critical issue. They need no defense. They served with honor and passion. Whether you like their politics or not, they deserve better than defamation and slime from the GOP deacons of deferments.

The most critical issue here is George W. Bush. Once again his country calls, and he is missing-in-action. Well, not so much missing, as hiding. Hiding behind the skirts of Karen Hughes. Hiding beneath the shiny forehead of Karl Rove.

Then again, maybe he is not hiding at all but simply on vacation at the Fox News Ranch. Or perhaps he is in a secure location with Dick Cheney, rehearsing his lines for the 9/11 Commission.

If George W. Bush is running for president then he ought to show up. He ought to be the one at the pulpit calling names and questioning other men's heroism instead of sending his nanny out on the airwaves. If George W. Bush thinks other men are cowards or political opportunists, then let him be the one to speak the words. If George W. Bush has something to say about other men's patriotism, let him say it.

Instead, Bush has once again become the invisible patriot.

As usual, Bush lets others fight his battles. His hands are clean, sort of - he only shapes the mud while someone else throws it.

It takes more than saluting the crew of Air Force One on the way to a fundraiser to be a soldier. It takes more than an Oval Office seal on a lectern to be a president. It takes more than a rented flight suit and San Diego sunshine to be a patriot. But it takes absolutely no guts to send out surrogates to disparage combat veterans.

John Kerry, on behalf of all veterans, ask George W. Bush how deep a wound has to be to qualify for a Purple Heart. Ask him how many dead and wounded soldiers hauled through mud and mortars does it take to earn a Bronze Star. Ask him how many limbs have to be lost to earn a Silver Star. Ask him how many years after serving your country does it take to qualify for honor and respect.

And ask Bush to answer in his own words so that the troops in Iraq understand the GOP patriotism guidelines.

There is no need for John Kerry to defend himself. But he should ask Bush directly, why he condones cowardice within his own political party, by allowing surrogates to smear veterans, while he remains silent.

And Bush needs to respond directly, not through spokespersons, or GOP potty-mouths. Let's hear it from the man himself. Twenty-five words or less, just to be fair.

George Bush needs to tell America directly, why an invisible patriot is better than one who actually showed up.

John Cory is a freelance writer and Vietnam Veteran who holds a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star with "V" device.

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