TPM reader BA figures out how it works:
1996: Bob Dole is a war hero! Clinton is a draft dodger! WORSHIP THE WAR HERO!
2000: Forget the war! Ignore the potential Vietnam-era AWOL-ness of our candidate, and his complete lack of foreign policy knowledge! He’s got integrity!
2004: So what your candidate actually fought and was injured in the same war during which our candidate was so very much NOT AWOL! We mock his service and question the legitimacy of his injuries! Have a purple band-aid to wear at our convention!
2008: Only a certified war hero can lead this country! WORSHIP THE WAR HERO!