For the last eight years, but especially in 2004, the Democrats went after Dick Cheney for accepting five deferments from the draft during the Vietnam War. Now, however, the Democrats have their own VP candidate with the same record of draft deferments. Joe Biden took five student deferments and later got classified as ineligible except in case of national emergency for asthma — even though his biography emphasizes his ability at sports as a youth:
Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden received five student draft deferments during the Vietnam War, the same number of deferments received by Vice President Dick Cheney, and later was disqualified from service because of asthma as a teenager.
Officials with Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama’s campaign released Biden’s Selective Service records at the request of The Associated Press. Less detailed records were available from a National Archives facility in Philadelphia.
According to the documents, Biden, 65, received several deferments while he was an undergraduate at the University of Delaware and later as a law student at Syracuse University. A month after undergoing a physical exam in April 1968, Biden received a Selective Service classification of 1-Y, meaning he was available for service only in the event of national emergency. …
In “Promises to Keep,” a memoir that was published last year and became an instant best-seller after he was tapped as Obama’s running mate, Biden never mentions his asthma, recounting an active childhood, work as a lifeguard and football exploits in high school.
Maybe the book recounts Neil Kinnock’s youth instead of Biden’s? His disqualification came in 1968, at the height of the war and as student protests began gaining traction. At 25, one might expect a lifeguard and high-school football star to be healthy enough for military service. Something got exaggerated, either in 1968 or in the memoirs.
Does this really make much of a difference otherwise? Plenty of people took deferments, and as many of them as they could, including Dick Cheney. Deferments weren’t illegal, although they certainly were controversial at the time and remain so today. Biden didn’t become a “draft dodger” or a deserter, and as we can see, he became a productive member of American society. Under normal circumstances, it shouldn’t make any difference at all.
However, the same can be said for Cheney — and mostly wasn’t over the last four years. Democrats who gleefully questioned Cheney’s manhood and patriotism over this issue should now explain why they support a candidate for the same office with the same record of deferments. This issue shouldn’t be about Biden, who cooperated with the system as it existed at the time. It should be about holding the hypocrites accountable for their baseless attacks over the years.