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‘Hell no, we won’t go?’: We admire the military but elect draft evaders president

Reading a book about the Vietnam War recently, it occurred to me that we’ve never had a Vietnam vet as president, even though two (John McCain and John Kerry) have been nominees.

Presidents Donald Trump, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, Tom Pennington/Getty Images, Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images)
Presidents Donald Trump, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, Tom Pennington/Getty Images, Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images)

 

Reading a book about the Vietnam War recently, it occurred to me that we’ve never had a Vietnam vet as president, even though two (John McCain and John Kerry) have been nominees. Instead, we have had two presidents, Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, who managed not to get drafted, and a third, George W. Bush, who got into the National Guard.

Photo credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, Tom Pennington/Getty Images, Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. @tomricks1

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