Howard Dean Slams McCain As 'Blatant Opportunist' on Vietnam

At his blog Political Punch, ABC reporter Jake Tapper noted the latest thing outraging Republicans. As the McCain campaign prepared to release an ad highlighting McCain's military service, Democratic Party chairman Howard Dean sent out an obnoxious reply: "While we honor McCain’s military service, the fact is Americans want a real leader who offers real solutions, not a blatant opportunist who doesn’t understand the economy and is promising to keep our troops in Iraq for 100 years."

The GOP seized upon the term "blatant opportunist" to suggest that Dean is implying McCain is an opportunist for including his POW information in his latest TV ad, with the RNC demanding an immediate apology. Tapper suggested:

That's all noise. What's more interesting are the Dean quotes from 2004 that may come back to haunt him this year.

"The real issue is this," Dean said in March 2004, when endorsing formal rival Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., "Who would you rather have in charge of the defense of the United States of America, a group of people who never served a day overseas in their life, or a guy who served his country honorably and has three Purple Hearts and a Silver Star on the battlefields of Vietnam?"

McCain, by the way, has been awarded the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit, two Bronze Star Medals, a Purple Heart and the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Ouch. It's certainly true that the war-hero stories are shifting parties this time around, and so the party lines change around. John Kerry pounded his three months in Vietnam so hard that conservative writers like James Taranto made fun of it, introducing him most days as "John Kerry, who by the way, served in Vietnam."

Now it's the liberals who want to mock an "opportunistic" focus on Vietnam biography. But there is a dramatic difference between McCain's long captivity in Vietnam and Kerry's noticeably truncated tour -- and a much more dramatic difference in how they treated their comrades in arms after they returned home. It should be fascinating to see if the liberal media follows Tapper's blogging into what Democrats said about Kerry vs. Bush a few short years ago.

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