Eric Fettmann of the New York Post thinks Senator Tom Harkin held Dick Cheney to a double standard when he called Cheney a "coward." Under the headline HARKIN: DENOUNCED CHENEY'S 'DODGE,' BUT NOT EDWARDS', Fettmann writes:
Dick Cheney wasn't the only American who sat out the war by using legitimate student deferments, after all.
John Edwards, in fact, did the exact same thing, albeit in a later stage of the war.
John Edwards was born on June 10, 1953. He turned 18 in 1971 and started college that year.
But if he turned 18 in June and didn't start college until the fall, would he have received a student deferment? Apparently not -- and, unlike Cheney, he would have been eligible only for one semester's deferment:
Before the revisions [to the Selective Service] law, a draftee could qualify for a student deferment if he could show that he was a full-time student making satisfactory progress toward a degree. Under current law, though, a college student can have his induction postponed only until the end of the current semester, according to the Selective Service Administration. A senior can have his induction deferred until the end of the academic year.
The changes were made in 1971 in an effort to make the draft more fair and equitable.
A student deferment didn't keep Edwards out of Vietnam. To find out what did, go to the Web site of the Selective Service System. Here's the page that describes what happened to men born in 1953. Selective Service conducted a lottery on February 2, 1972, that rank-ordered all the birthdates for 1953; similar lotteries had been conducted in the 1969, 1970, and 1971 for men born before 1953. Edwards's lottery number was 178 -- right in the middle of the 1953 pool. But that turned out to be utterly irrelevant:
This lottery was conducted for men who would have been called in 1973; however, no new draft orders were issued after 1972.
So it's not true that Edwards "sat out the war by using legitimate student deferments." Edwards would never have been drafted even if he hadn't been in school.
By contrast, Cheney's didn't just use student deferments. In May, The New York Times noted that Cheney avoided service in 1962 (when he attended and then left Yale) because few young men were being drafted. Then the deferments began -- including one based on an intriguingly convenient birth:
Mr. Cheney enrolled in Casper Community College in January 1963 -- he turned 22 that month -- and sought his first student deferment on March 20, according to records from the Selective Service System. After transferring to the University of Wyoming at Laramie, he sought his second student deferment on July 23, 1963.
On Aug. 7, 1964, Congress approved the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, which allowed President Lyndon B. Johnson to use unlimited military force in Vietnam. The war escalated rapidly from there.
Just 22 days later, Mr. Cheney married his high school sweetheart, Lynne. He sought his third student deferment on Oct. 14, 1964.
In May 1965, Mr. Cheney graduated from college and his draft status changed to 1-A. But he was married, which offered him some protection.
In July, President Johnson announced that he was doubling the number of men drafted. The number of inductions soared, to 382,010 in 1966 from 230,991 in 1965 and 112,386 in 1964.
Mr. Cheney obtained his fourth deferment when he started graduate school at the University of Wyoming on Nov. 1, 1965.
On Oct. 6, 1965, the Selective Service lifted its ban against drafting married men who had no children. Nine months and two days later, Mr. Cheney's first daughter, Elizabeth, was born. On Jan. 19, 1966, when his wife was about 10 weeks pregnant, Mr. Cheney applied for 3-A status, the "hardship" exemption, which excluded men with children or dependent parents. It was granted.
In January 1967, Mr. Cheney turned 26 and was no longer eligible for the draft.
Ultimately, Fettmann concludes in his Post column that "it's time for everyone to call a permanent cease-fire here" -- no more attacks on the military service, or lack thereof, of either side's candidates.
OK, fine. Let's do it.
That would mean, of course, that Regnery should voluntarily recall and pulp all copies of Unfit to Command, and that the "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" should disband, and individually and collectively subject themselves to a gag order with regard to Kerry's Vietnam years.
Well, guys? What do you think?