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Old 05-06-2012, 07:56 PM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is online now
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Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: NY but not NYC
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If war record were a random factor, then what you say would be true. But war record has always been one of the major factors in getting people to vote for a candidate. Eisenhower became President solely because he was the leading face of WWII. Kennedy used his war record to win over Nixon, but Nixon was helped getting into politics because he was a veteran. The 19th century is full of generals who became president, and most of them never would have based solely on their political record.

I think people who didn't live during the reign of WWII veterans can't appreciate how powerful this was. In politics you almost had to be a veteran to succeed. Lyndon Johnson knew this and was, IIRC, the first Congressman to enter the service. "Tail Gunner Joe" McCarthy succeeding because of his "war record", even if was as true as everything he said later. No matter. When veterans were associated with a party, or even the extreme wing of one, they were still national heroes.

Korea was a much smaller war, smaller than even the figures than Little Nemo gave. A large percentage of participants were WWII veterans called back into service. So in addition to having a comparatively tiny number of new bodies, it seemed less of a new war than a continuation of the old.

No national heroes came out of Vietnam, just as no national heroes came out of the Gulf War or Iraq War. The aftermath appears completely different than any previous American wars. Service was once almost mandatory. It no longer is, except to a small segment who wants to politicize service. Note that it wasn't an issue at all in the Republican primaries.

I can't even imagine what circumstances could lead to a future nationally popular war, but if one ever happens participation in it will be mandatory for future presidential candidates.