Let the opposition research begin!
The Daily Telegraph, the conservative British daily, has a piece out in the Sunday paper right out of RNC-central: "Revealed: how 'war hero' Kerry tried to put off Vietnam military duty."
The 'charge', if you can call it that, is that before entering the military, John Kerry asked for a 12 month deferment to continue some sort of academic study in Paris. When his request was denied, he enlisted in the Navy.
In the words of the Telegraph: "The revelation appears to undercut Sen Kerry's carefully-cultivated image as a man who willingly served his country in a dangerous war - in supposed contrast to President Bush, who served in the Texas National Guard and thus avoided being sent to Vietnam."
An unnamed 'Republican strategist' chimes in: "I've not heard this before. This undercuts Kerry's complaints about Bush and it continues to pose questions as to his credibility among ordinary Vietnam veterans."
It's not completely clear from the article whether this is true or whether it's in any way disputed. The factoid comes from a 1970s article which appeared in the Harvard Crimson. And the Kerry campaign, according to the article, declined comment.
So assuming this is all true, it's hard to imagine what the response would be aside from, Are you kidding?
To the best of my recollection Kerry says that he had doubts about Vietnam before he ever entered the Navy. So I'm not sure this contradicts anything; and to say it puts his service on a par with the president's, who used his father's political connections to jump to the front of the line for a position in a Guard unit he knew would never be sent into combat, gives 'laughable' a bad name.
Certainly, we're going to see a lot more of this. The article helpfully notes that GOP oppo reserachers working for the president are investigating whether the wounds Kerry sustained in the war were really so bad after all.
It's true that since Kerry has made a big deal of his service that it's open for scrutiny.
But, frankly, I hope they keep going on this angle because the more they push on this front the more it will push the president's service record back to the center of attention. The contrast, on so many levels, is terrible for the president -- a running political wound which hits on all the patterns of skating through on family connections, letting others do his dirty work, and having connected friends clean up his messes.
All that is necessary is that Democrats push back hard on this stuff.
Along those lines, and we'll be saying more about this, David Bossie and Floyd Brown are back in the mix. And they're after Kerry too with a new independent expenditure ad lambasting him as an effete Massachusetts liberal.
Bossie, you'll remember, is the Republican hate freak who provided much of the dark comedy of the Clinton-hating years playing the role of second-string Wile E. Coyete to Bill Clinton's Road Runner.
Bossie's pal, Floyd Brown, first made a splash helping along the democratic process by putting together the 1988 Willie Horton ad -- which was, not particularly convincingly, disavowed by the president's father.
By 1992 Brown was back in the mix running an anti-Clinton Gennifer Flowers ad with a 900 number viewers could call for steamy details.
Along the way the two were publishing classics like Prince Albert: the Life and Lies of Al Gore (2000) and Slick Willie: Why America Cannot Trust Bill Clinton (1992) and between the two of them managing to be involved in every twist and turn of the anti-Clinton shenanigans from their 1992 'investigations' in Arkansas, through various Whitewater and Paula Jones dirty tricks, through Bossie's telling role as 'Chief Investigator' for Dan Burton's Committee on Government Reform and Oversight.
There's much more of course -- and you can follow their role as semi-hapless bad-actors in the books of Sid Blumenthal, Joe Conason, Gene Lyons, and Jeff Toobin. But if I go into any more detail at the moment my head will surely explode and then I won't be able to finish this post and there will also be a big mess on my desk.
In any case, now they're in the hunt for John Kerry, starting with the new ad you can see at their website. Go take a look, to get a taste of what's coming down the pike.