Jed Babbin at NRO has a piece about the differing experiences of Bush and Kerry in the Vietnam era and why the important differences aren't what the mainstream media would have you think:
The media — by focusing only on Kerry's Vietnam service and Bush's lack of combat time — is blowing a smokescreen to cover a far more important issue than who served where and when. In the 2004 election, we're not choosing someone to pick up a gun and go at the enemy himself. We're choosing someone who can lead the nation in time of war.
Kerry is a puzzle: once a warrior, now distrustful of his nation's power and position in the world. He had a soda-straw-wide view of a war that Americans still don't agree should have been fought. He came back from it to condemn the war and those who fought it even though some were still being beaten and tortured in North Vietnamese prison camps. He abandoned them for the company of Hanoi Jane to propel himself into politics. Cong. Sam Johnson, who was held prisoner by the North Vietnamese for seven years, was asked about the picture of Kerry sitting near Jane Fonda at an antiwar demonstration. He told the Washington Times, "Seeing this picture of Kerry with her at antiwar demonstrations in the United States just makes me want to throw up." There is no such revulsion of George Bush among the best of judges: the Vietnam-era military, and those who now go in harm's way.
The distrust and doubt Kerry learned in Vietnam now colors everything he sees. When John Kerry looks at terrorism he sees a threat we can deal with without going to war. In the Middle East he sees only a Vietnam-like quagmire. Kerry doesn't believe America can win this war, and lacks the confidence in America to lead it through the conflict.
President Bush is no combat hero, but he served bravely and well in the Vietnam era. His service gave him confidence in his nation and its motives that John Kerry lacks. What Bush has and Kerry doesn't is the critical difference in character between a president who can lead a nation through a war, and one who cannot.
One of the things I especially enjoyed about the article was the quotes from former squadron-mates of Bush, who are clearly puzzled by the fact that the Democrats and the Media like to portray the President as "dumb". Their recollections are priceless and will give you a new perspective that doesn't get written up in today's press.
I have never suffered from the delusion that President Bush is intellectually challenged. I was a flight surgeon and know that the average IQ of jet pilots is in the 120''s. It is simply not possible to be a fighter pilot with a low IQ due to the multitasking and judgement that is required to fly that type of airplane. As one of his wingmen commented, "Dubya had the right stuff".
PS - For those of you who are new to my blog, my book CHOOSING THE RIGHT STUFF: The Psychological Selection of Astronauts and Cosmonauts discusses in detail the process of choosing individuals to fly and live in the space environment. It has a great deal of information on pilot selection and psychology, since many astronauts come from the pool of military pilots.