I’m starting with Vietnam because it’s so fresh right now between the swift boats vets allegations and the bush AWOL thing.
It’s difficult how to judge how important this issue is for me other then how it will role up into the character category. Kerry went to Vietnam, Bush avoided it.
While in Vietnam, Kerry did a pretty good job showing a bit more then courage then the norm as demonstrated by the medals he earned. The swift boats folks attack just doesn’t come off as credible. Many members have historical sour grapes, conflicting testimony between previous statements of the members, where the attacks where financed from, conflicts from other veterans who where there and all the written records backing up Kerry’s version. The exception is Cambodia, which frankly comes down to statements from a decade ago, technicalities about where the border was and has no barring on Kerry’s hero image.
Post war, Kerry made statements that, reading the congressional testimony and watching a Kerry/Paul O’Neil debate from the time, I feel are largely accurate and doesn’t warrant the “all veterans are horrible war criminal“ claims that other veterans have hated Kerry for.
The swift boats vet attack has extra bad points for Bush. Contrary to his claims of not being involved, it follows a line of attacks that Bush and his supporters have used in the past with opponents. This combined with his attempts to change the subject with 527s whenever asked about the issue is plain disappointing.
The Bush AWOL story has shown to be over hyped, Bush had preferential treatment to get into the Texas Guard and didn’t treat his commitment very seriously in the last couple years, exactly how he choose to blow off his commitment and the fact that he did cram sessions in the end resulting in a (possibly influenced) honorable discharge doesn’t change much.