"For Saxby Chambliss, who got out of going to Vietnam because of a trick knee, to attack John Kerry as weak on the defense of our nation is like a mackerel in the moonlight that both shines and stinks."
Cleland knows of what he speaks - Chambliss was the hit man against his own decorated service record in 2002. This morning the head of Bush's re-election campaign spoke on NPR, asserting piously that "we respect Sen. Kerry's service and honor his sacrifice" (or words to that effect. But the same Bush team is sending out their slime tool Chambliss against Kerry now.
In other words, President Bush is attacking Kerry's service record - and Chambliss is a not-so-transparent fig leaf.
The GOP spin is that they are attacking Kerry's voting record, not his patriotism. But this is simply rhetorical cover for the undelrying charge that Kerry's voting record somewhow reveals a man more concerned with political gain than the public interest of our common national defense. You can't argue that Kerry votes against the best interest of our nation's defense, and then suggest you aren't impugning his patriotism. If the GOP attack was about Kerry being simply wrong on the issues, then that would be different, but the specific charge that Marc Raciocot made this morning on NPR is that Kerry is "inconsistent" and that he "says one thing and does another."
Kerry didn't vote in approval of every war that the US ever fought. That's a good thing and is not inconsistent. In fact, having reviewed his voting record myself (as an avowed skeptic), I am pleased at the level of nuance that Kerry brought to the debate. The use of force is not a schoolyard impulse but a serious responsibility to which the current administration seems to have little respect for.
The fact is, the conservative right has very little credibility on critiquing anyone's record on national security. They's engaged in serious revisionist history in that regard.
There is an EXCELLENT piece on NPR that reviews Kerry's record, which makes for an excellent overview.