I’m surprised that John Kerry’s military record is widely believed to be his greatest strength. It certainly does say something about his character, but I’m not sure if it says anything positive. Most people can tell you that Kerry fought in Vietnam. That’s not really very accurate. Kerry killed people in Vietnam. The question at hand is this: Did he kill for the love of his country, or for the love of killing?

As recent events in Iraq have shown, the military is not the most appropriate place for those of pure heart. Even if he was killing for his country, does that really give him the moral high ground? President George W. Bush weaseled out of foreign service, which was ironically of greater service to the country. If everyone had followed his bold leadership, the country would have avoided an unnecessary war that was devastating to its reputation and economy – which is also ironic, if you think about it. The bottom line is that if you judge the candidates solely on their Vietnam position, Bush wins hands down. He didn’t kill anyone until he was elected, though he is now indirectly responsible for more deaths than I could ever hope to cause. He’s not just killing through unnecessary wars, but also with environmental and reproductive education policies. It is not Bush’s weaselry during Vietnam, but his current dismal performance that makes him an unwise choice for the next presidency.

But is Kerry a better choice? In terms of policy, sure, but what about character? Is he going to hog the glory of the presidency like he hogs Purple Hearts? Is he being honest about how he got them? Maybe he should just admit that the army had an extra box, and just left them up for grabs. Or perhaps he should admit that he doesn’t really deserve the third one, after only receiving minor injuries from shrapnel. I remember how I loved to visit the doctor as a child. He’d poke and prod me, and then I would always get a lollipop and a cool sticker. Sometimes, I preferred the prodding to the lollipop, but either way, I knew I’d get rewarded for going. I guess the army doesn’t have a lot of lollipops.

Maybe it’s part of the movement to keep gays out of the military – which, by the way, doesn’t make any sense to me. If you hate gays so much, why not send them to die in some god-forsaken holy land? I’ve heard it said that homosexuals can’t fight as well as the rest of us. I disagree, but that’s a moot point. We’re not fighting in Iraq. We’re reconstructing. And I know that if we sent a gay corps out there, they’d have done a much better job at that. Not only would they have protected Iraq’s ancient relics, they’d have buffed them up to an incredible shine. The oil pipelines wouldn’t just be intact; they’d be beautiful, swirling candy canes. Those depressing buildings that we bombed the bejesus out of? Try and read this with a lisp, dear reader – dance clubs! We could really use a gay army.

Which reminds me: Kerry and Purple Hearts. What’s with that guy and purple? What’s with his selfishness? What kind of jerk would take three hearts when there are people who desperately need one? Dick Cheney, for instance, could use any spare heart he can get to keep his blood pumping. He could also use a heart that would give him the tiniest smidgen of compassion. Or one to battle his cowardice. Come to think of it, the army gave those hearts to the wrong guy entirely!

I can only conclude that it will be a depressing election. We could elect a selfish, medal-hoarding killer or a weaselly, service-dodging killer. To make matters worse, I doubt that either candidate will give us a gay army. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to move on to 2008.

Loren Williams is a Daily Nexus columnist.