Drudge has the following:

Dean used obscure back condition to get out of military draft in 1970; now admits that he was not eager to serve, although he says in interview, ‘he probably could have’… Developing…

As a veteran, whose father served in Vietnam, and who intends to vote Republican come next November, let me just say: It doesn’t matter. Not only did the election of Bill Clinton in 1992 innoculate anyone from draft dodger charges, but a phenomenal number of people who “probably could have” served in Vietnam got out of it through a variety of ways. Indeed, this includes a number of rather prominent Republicans, starting with George W. Bush and Richard B. Cheney.

For that matter, there is a rumor going around that John Kerry served in Vietnam. It doesn’t seem to be helping him much.

The draft worked well in an era where it was virtually impossible to get deferments from it and when employers were mainly veterans who would routinely ask to see a man’s Honorable Discharge before thinking about hiring him. Those days were long gone by Vietnam. If you let anyone who can get into and pay for college, anyone who can get into the National Guard (back in the days when the Guard seldom deployed), or anyone with a dozen other reasons get out of it, those who don’t want to serve, won’t. By 1973, we went to an all-volunteer force and rendered it a moot question. Four years later, President Carter pardoned all those who ran off to Canada to avoid service in Vietnam.

I’m still reasonably confident that Howard Dean will not be our next president. But using a bad back to weasel out of combat duty–assuming the Drudge blurb is even true–won’t be a significant factor in that.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Here’s the Times piece the Drudge scoop was apparently based on (sorta-via John Cole, who didn’t have a link to it from his post on the topic).

  2. Paul says:

    let me just say: It doesn’t matter.

    Ya got that wrong James….

    Any questions about military service only matter if you are republican.

    Clinton can dodge the draft, go to a foreign country and protest against us, write how much he loathes the military and all that shows he has virtue.

    Bush is a trained fighter pilot who has a few pages missing from his personnel file and he is the devil.

    I really wish you would get your facts right next time.


  3. Paul says:

    just in case


  4. Meezer says:

    I’m a Republican and I just don’t care. It was a long time ago for Dean; possibly several political theories ago. I’ve changed my politics dramatically in the same number of years. Yes, it’s frustrating when Dem’s trot out the AWOL nonsense but please, can’t we take the high road? I’d like to be proud of my party’s behavior as well as their politics. I grew out of “tit for tat” in the 3rd grade. All this partisan nastiness makes me feel like James Garner in “Support Your Local Sheriff,” “You just make me feel tired all over.”

  5. James Joyner says:

    Honestly, I’m not sure that Bush going through fighter pilot training and then disappearing gets him a lot more points than Dean gets for using a not-that-bad back. It’s better than openly lying his way out like Clinton, to be sure. But Bush could certainly have served in Vietnam if he had so chosen; he chose not to.

  6. a lilth says:

    i needed reminding that republicians do not care.
    thank you.
    as history records any member of gop in indiana
    in the 1920s had to conform and be an active KKK
    member, this o f course warrants forgetfulness,
    no neo conservative white boy would want to share the advantages of generations of birthing in the perceived economic darwinistic class with any one else, yes let us bury the past, the new aristocrats
    can and will revise history and anihilate and books on how some continue that old euro habit
    “ostracize any opposition” until slavery is de facto way of life for every one but me>

  7. Jim L says:

    I voted for it before I voted against it. John Kerry is strong on defense? He voted to kill the Bradley fighting Vehicle, Voted to kill the M-1 Abram Tank,Voted to kill every Aircraft carrier laid down from 1988,voted to kill the Aged anti aircraft system,voted to kill the F-15 strike eagle, voted to kill the Block 60 F-16,voted to kill theP-3 Orion upgrade,killed the B-1,Killed the B-2, Voted to kill the Patriot anti-Missile system,voted to kill the F-A-18,voted to kill the F117 In short,He voted to kill every military appropriation for the development of every weapons systems since 1988 to include the Battle Armor for our troops.He also voted to kill all terrorism activities of every agency of the U.S. Goverment and to cut the funding of the FBI by 60% to cut the funding for the CIA by 80%,And cut the funding for the NSA by 80%. But then he voted to Increase OUR funding for the U.N. operations by 800%. Is this a presedent you would want? If John Kerry becomes our next president We will have alot more terrist attacks here in the united states. Ask your self this. Who would Bin Laden want for president and then vote for the other guy.