What Is True Patriotism? President Bush has announced that surge troops will be home by the end of July. NPR Senior News Analyst Daniel Schorr reflects on Democratic and Republican leaders who have not served in combat and what constitutes true patriotism.
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What Is True Patriotism?

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What Is True Patriotism?

What Is True Patriotism?

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DANIEL SCHORR: So, President George Bush broke the news to us as gently as he could.

LYNN NEARY, host:

NPR senior news analyst Daniel Schorr.

SCHORR: The surge troops will be home by the end of July but some 140,000 pre-surge troops will remain. For how long? Don't know. But it's pretty certain that American soldiers mired in a war-torn land will be an issue in the fall election campaign.

I repeat all this because it strikes me how easy it seems to be for leaders who have never seen the battlefield to send others to do the fighting. You will remember, of course, the controversy years ago about President Bush's war record. Thanks to his father's connections, young Bush apparently managed to jump the line for enlistment in the Texas Air National Guard, which assured him of not being sent to Vietnam.

Vice President Dick Cheney is another hawk who avoided flying off to war. Cheney applied and received five deferments - four as a student and one as a prospective father. It isn't just a Republican thing. President Clinton also used a student deferment to stay in college during the Vietnam War.

So, who is the real patriot willing to serve his country? One such man in 1963 served two years in the Marines then volunteered to become a Navy medical cause man. In that capacity he helped to care for President Johnson after his surgery in 1966 - that according to a Chicago Tribune op-ed article co-authored by Lawrence Korb, assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration.

And who was that patriot? A young African-American man who went on to become the minister of a church in Chicago. That's right - the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, who has been pastor to Senator Barack Obama, who has been attacked for a lack of patriotism.

This is Daniel Schorr.

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