Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) in August of 2004:
On Monday the Iowa Senator lashed out at Dick Cheney, claiming the Vice President had no right to criticize Mr. Kerry’s policies for the war on terror because Mr. Cheney had a deferment back then: “When I hear this coming from Dick Cheney, who was a coward, who would not serve during the Vietnam War, it makes my blood boil.”
Tom Harkin, this week:
Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s family background as the son and grandson of admirals has given him a worldview shaped by the military, “and he has a hard time thinking beyond that,” Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Ia., said Friday.“I think he’s trapped in that,” Harkin said in a conference call with Iowa reporters. “Everything is looked at from his life experiences, from always having been in the military, and I think that can be pretty dangerous.”
Harkin said that “it’s one thing to have been drafted and served, but another thing when you come from generations of military people and that’s just how you’re steeped, how you’ve learned, how you’ve grown up.”
A McCain spokesman said Harkin’s remarks were offensive and showed that Democrats are out of touch with Americans’ values.
“Senator Harkin’s comments are an affront to the many thousands of Iowans who have served our country so valiantly for generations,” said spokesman Jeff Sadosky. “This sort of attack shows just how out of touch Democratic leadership has become with the values that have made our country so great.”
And of course, back in 2004, Harkin was caught performing major puffery on his military record:
In 1979, Mr. Harkin, then a congressman, participated in a round-table discussion arranged by the Congressional Vietnam Veterans’ Caucus. “I spent five years as a Navy pilot, starting in November of 1962,” Mr. Harkin said at that meeting, in words that were later quoted in a book, Changing of the Guard, by Washington Post political writer David Broder. “One year was in Vietnam. I was flying F-4s and F-8s on combat air patrols and photo-reconnaisance support missions. I did no bombing.”That clearly is not an accurate picture of his Navy service. Though Mr. Harkin stresses he is proud of his Navy record — “I put my ass on the line day after day” — he concedes now he never flew combat air patrols in Vietnam. . . .
Mr. Harkin’s Navy record shows his only decoration is the National Defense Service Medal, awarded to everyone on active service during those years. He did not receive either the Vietnam Service medal or the Vietnam Campaign medal, the decorations given to everyone who served in the Southeast Asia theater. “We didn’t get them for what we did,” Mr. Harkin says. “It’s never bothered me.”
In 2005, Howard Dean claimed, “I will use whatever position I have in order to root out hypocrisy.” He might want to start by getting his own house in order before going on the road.
Update: Just came across this on YouTube; it’s a clip of John McCain appearing on Des Moines’ WHO radio last July, when on-air talent Jan Mickelson played him Tom Harkin’s comments from earlier that month, recorded on the floor of the Senate:
And if we leave, there will be a bloodbath in Vietnam. All of the people who supported us will be slaughtered in the streets. Well, it didn’t happen.
Watch for McCain’s “Oh My God” reaction immediately afterwards–and understandably so. Of course, just to bring this post full circle, look who tacitly agreed with Harkin.