The Counterfeit Presentment of Two Brothers

Over at Vodkapundit Stephen Green gives us a study in contrasts, linking first to a Boston Globe story from a year ago which quotes Kerry, and then to a speech last week by Colin Powell and his moving encounter with a recently wounded soldier.

Compare and contrast. One man has three superficial wounds and uses it to go home, the other loses a limb and wonders when he can rejoin his unit.

Now, in fairness, one can understand why Kerry would want to take advantage of his “three wounds and yer out” opportunity. War is not for everyone, and I can only imagine what it is like to wonder, everyday, if today is the day you will have half your head blown off, spend the rest of your life in a wheelchair or even die. Some men have enormous fortitude and courage and they can handle it. Some men do not and cannot. There is no shame, I guess, in being a man who cannot live in harm’s way. But I cannot help but think of Hamlet in Act 3, Scene 4. Hamlet confronts his mother, Gertrude, and even half mad with lust and grief he is still lucid enough to instruct her:

Look here, upon this picture, and on this, The counterfeit presentment of two brothers. See, what a grace was seated on this brow; Hyperion’s curls; the front of Jove himself; An eye like Mars, to threaten and command; A station like the herald Mercury New-lighted on a heaven-kissing hill; A combination and a form indeed, Where every god did seem to set his seal, To give the world assurance of a man: This was your husband. Look you now, what follows: Here is your husband; like a mildew’d ear, Blasting his wholesome brother. Have you eyes? Could you on this fair mountain leave to feed, And batten on this moor?

Ah, yes. Two brothers in arms, a generation or so apart. I could underline the thought, but do I really need to? No, I cannot blame Kerry for wanting out of Vietnam as soon as he could get out. But I can look at both men and understand that we live in times which perhaps demand more from a man than an eagerness to run when the going gets difficult. Moreover, the events of the last week have shown me that John Kerry is still not a man who can live under the gun. We’ve watched President Bush endure a summer of constant onslaught in every facet of media – in books, television, film. Never, not once did Bush suggest that the execrable F9/11 be shut down, not once did he suggest a book be banned…That speaks volumes to me about the character of both men. And frankly, it speaks in a nutshell as to why I left the Democratic party. The “tolerant” party doesn’t want to hear what it doesn’t want to hear. And it doesn’t want you to hear it, either. Berlin in the 1930′s had a similar situation.

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