Critics had a field day finding fault with former Vice President Dan Quayle and his service in the National Guard. They didn't pull any punches in suggesting the former Indiana congressman had used the National Guard as a means of avoiding active military service. And yet, Quayle did serve in the National Guard and could have been called up for active duty.
During the 1992 presidential campaign, the question of Bill Clinton's dislike of the military and military service was a topic of debate, with many suggesting Clinton was active and outspoken in his dislike for the military. Some pointed out he had organized and participated in demonstrations against U.S. policies while a student in England. The term "draft dodger" was applied to the Democratic candidate, and there wasn't much response by Clinton supporters to deny the accusation or defend the Arkansas governor.
With this background, it would be interesting to know the reaction of many in the U.S. armed forces when they watched the president stride across the White House grounds Wednesday with a group of U.S. troops just back from Somalia as a backdrop. Various news reports have told how carefully the event was orchestrated and that it undoubtedly will be used in upcoming campaign and re-election efforts.
It is difficult to watch the president use such a situation to try to bolster his own image, to strut in front of the troops, when he has made it clear he does not like the military and what it stands for, when he was active and outspoken in his efforts to organize opposition to U.S. military policies when American troops were engaged in combat in Vietnam, and when he used every means available to avoid military service.
Apparently, in Clinton's rationale, it is perfectly all right to be opposed to the military and military service but at the same time use the military when and if it serves his own personal purposes.