As one of the “baby boom” generation, I have lived and worked among three U.S. Presidents who could have served in the military during the Vietnam war.
Bill Clinton, the first Vietnam era President, defied military service with multiple draft deferments, including a questionable one obtained while he studied as an Rhodes scholar in Britain.
George W. Bush served in the air reserves in Texas, but that service was marred by reports of his use of that role to avoid serving in combat in Vietnam.
Barack Obama was too young to serve in the the military during Vietnam. As our youngest president, he avoided military service completely as the draft wound down after the war.
Donald Trump used a claimed “bone spur” in his ankle that may or may not have existed since no medical records have ever appeared to support what kept him out of war.
Three failed presidential nominees — Democrats John Kerry and Al Gore along with Republican John McCain — served in the military and fought in Vietnam. McCain, a Navy aviator, spent years in a Viet Cong prison in Hanoi after being shot down — lost their bids for the Presidency. Al Gore lost to George W. Bush as did Kerry in Bush’s re-election to a second term.
To date, no veteran of one of America’s most controversial wars, has run this country. The last American president to serve in war was George H.W. Bush, shot down over the Pacific in World War II. Like McCain, he was a Navy aviator. The elder Bush failed to win a second term, losing to proclaimed draft dodger Clinton.
Three of our last five presidents did not serve. Two of the three served two terms. The third’s second term will most likely be decided by voters in 2020.
The fourth — George W. Bush — used reserve service to stay out of war. Ironically, he became the president who tapped the reserves and National Guard to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan during his terms.
As America honors and buries John McCain — a war hero who tried twice to become president and failed — one has to wonder: Does serving your country matter in today’s America?
Or does America prefer a foul-mouthed liar draft dodger who abuses the office of the presidency to “punish” anyone who disagrees with him by stripping security clearances without valid reasons while he avoids the law, traditions and decency?