Vietnam and Watergate - When Democrats Thought War and Character Mattered

October 6, 2002

by Bruce Walker

Republicans have never taken the general position that issues of war and peace or issues of integrity and character were "irrelevant" to election politics. Republicans have also never taken the blasť position that "everyone" plays politics, rather than acts responsibly, on these two vital matters.

These days, it is easy to understand what a sputtering Tom Daschle or a clownish Robert Byrd would rail against President Bush for "politicizing" the critical national security issues facing America: issues which may determine whether or not America continues to exist as we know it.

President Bush has shown exceptional leadership on the issues of war and peace, with several key addresses to the nation, including three of the best presidential speeches in modern history. The president has also assembled a team of men and women - Dick Cheney, Colin Powell, Donald Rumsfeld, and Condi Rice - who are each perceived as competent, experienced and honorable. President Bush has also openly strived to separate partisan politics from this war that we are in.

Meanwhile, Cynthia McKinney acts like something little better than a traitor. David "Trotsky" Bonior travels with two other Democrat congressmen to explain how reasonable Saddam Hussein is compared with any president Bush. And the titular head of the Democrat Party gives a drab and whiny speech, contradicting his own record about the conclusion of Desert Storm, with the only point, apparently, that Republicans are bad.

These days, it is also easy to see why Democrat leaders do not want any election as a referendum upon integrity and character. Even if America could forget the moral darkness of Clinton-Rodham-Gore, Democrats seem to be doing excellent work reminding Americans why they were in the same political party with those hoodlums.

Gary Condit, who lost the Democratic nomination, was promised support if he won it. Bob Torrecelli, who did win the Democratic nomination without serious opposition, withdrew when it appeared that electing a felon to the Senate was fine, but only if he was a Democrat. And Democrat Congressman Jim Traficant is in prison. Tom Harkinís campaign has just done what brought down Richard Nixon (and he sloughs it off as nothing) and Paul Wellstone flagrantly breaks a two-term pledge in Minnesota (Jesse Ventura - where is your voice when the people need it?) What a grand case for giving Congress back to Democrats!

The sleaziness of Democrats also includes Gray Davis and now Kentucky Governor Patton, caught in a sordid affair. On top of all this, DNC has just been hit with the biggest fine for ethical violations in American history.

President Bush, by contrast, is almost universally recognized as an ethical leader surrounded by principled advisors (although many of us disagree with Colin Powell, for example, few of us doubt his honor and patriotism).

No wonder "Kitchen Table" issues are the only ones which Democrats deem meritorious: the trivial issues of national survival or ethical government help Republicans, while transcendently important issues, like unionizing federal security workers or tweaking the prescription drug benefits, help Democrats.

How ironic, then, that most Democrat leaders today entered politics with the Vietnam War as their single and vital policy question. Closely related to that "most important" issue was the Cold War, which Republicans from Goldwater to Reagan were going to turn into a nuclear Armageddon. "The War" once was the issue more important to Democrats than all the other policy issues of America put together. The threat of nuclear conflict came a close second, and being on the wrong side of either of these issues doomed Democrats like Scoop Jackson and Hubert Humphrey.

How ironic also that when the Vietnam War ended in Communist triumphant and a subsequent, preventable holocaust, that the next critical issue was ethics in government. Watergate, lying to the American people, etc., etc., etc. Gerald Fordís pardon of Richard Nixon is widely credited with costing him the presidency in 1976. Nixon, with a successful Cold War policy (at least in liberalís eyes) and a strong economy, was driven from office because of ethical problems.

Republicans have not been hypocrites like Democrats. During the Vietnam War, for example, some Republicans, like Mark Hatfield, were outspoken opponents and some, like John Tower, were strong supporters of President Johnson. During Watergate, it was the Republican leadership who went to Nixon and told him that, for the good of the country, he must resign.

Republicans, quite rightly, have always considered war and peace and considered ethical government as perhaps the two most important matters facing any American government. Democrats, by contrast, flip in an instant.

There is an expression in the legal profession "If you donít have the facts, argue the law; if you donít have the law, argue the facts."The Democrats, apparently, have decided not to argue about anything at all - except their divine right to govern America.


Bruce Walker has been a dyed in the wool conservative since, as a sixth grader, he campaigned door to door for Barry Goldwater. Bruce has had almost two hundred published articles have appeared in the Oklahoma Bar Journal, Law & Order, Legal Secretary Today, The Single Parent, Enter Stage Right, Citizen's View, The American Partisan, Port of Call, and several other professional and political periodicals.

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For more of Bruce's articles, visit his archives.

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