ORANGE COUNTY VOICES POLITICS : Fight the Good Fight, Kovic, Even if Victory Is a Long Shot : If the Vietnam veteran celebrated in film runs for Congress, he will at least force Dornan to face his public.

Dear Ron Kovic:

You said you wanted to hear from the public while you consider running for Congress against Bob Dornan.

Nice gesture. Too bad more politicians don't ask us ahead of time if we think they should run. One can almost hear the biennial rhythmic chants of " don't bother! " swelling from the cities and canyons throughout Orange County.

By now, many people already realize you're the subject of the great film "Born on the Fourth of July," chronicling your anguished journey from flag-waving teen-ager to strident anti-Vietnam War activist.

As they used to say, what a trip.

A young boy playing soldier. Click. Prom night innocence. Click. Join the Marines. Click. Enemy fire that left you wheelchair-bound. Click. Your outrage against the Big Lie that was Vietnam.

It's a movie you can be proud of.

But will it translate into a winning race against Dornan?

Gee, how to put this nicely. . . .

Why would you want to run for Congress? Outside of the House leadership, can you name five members? Can anyone?

It's not a place where you go to get things done. It's a place you go to get rich and reelected.

And why Dornan? He looks pretty entrenched in his 38th District. As with all congressional incumbents, unseating him is nearly impossible. In 1988, more than 98% of House members running for reelection won. And remember, Dornan (let's call him Boom-Boom, shall we?) isn't exactly hanging by a thread. He hardly showed his face during the '88 election and won with 60% of the vote. That's like winning a football game by 42-7.

Boom-Boom probably will be just as strong this year. With democracy having a field day around the world, he just needs to wave a few flags, kiss a few babies and, poof, you'd be history.

Or would you? Come to think of it, how could he one-up you on the flag issue? After all, Boom-Boom gives speeches for his country; you gave your legs.

Were you thinking of some help from the local Democratic Party? Oh, you weren't? Good. Perhaps you're a little more savvy than I thought.

Do you really think you can sell yourself to Orange County? You live in Redondo Beach and would have to move down here and persuade people in Garden Grove and Westminster and Anaheim and Santa Ana and Stanton that you have selected them to be served by you. That's a tough sell.

Jerry Yudelson, Boom-Boom's whipping boy in the '88 race, thinks he's beatable. He thinks Boom-Boom is out of touch with the working-class district, that his anti-abortion position will hurt him and that he won't be riding along with a strong Republican ticket like there was in '88.

That makes some sense, but here's the part I like best: Whereas Boom-Boom didn't deign to do much campaigning in 1988, he couldn't pull that with you running against him. With such a glamour race, he'd have to actually show his face at debates, and his constituents would get a much better look at the guy who represents them in Congress. And you know how politicians hate that kind of stuff.

To sum up, you got no chance.

But you know what? I keep thinking of your movie and of the guy it portrayed. It seemed to me he probably knows real Americans and maybe the real America much better than the Bob Dornans of the world.

The guy on the screen also had brains and a heart and the guts to protest the government when he thought it was wrong.

Is that really you? Or is it just a movie?

Because neither I nor anyone else in Orange County has any real way of knowing the answer to that right now, I leave you with this advice.

Go for it.

Give the 38th a choice against Boom-Boom. Even if you lose, democracy will be served. Since both you and Boom-Boom profess to love it, you'll both be happy.

And if you take that advice, I leave you with my two final pieces of advice. It's a strategy that perhaps you're familiar with.

Kick ass and take names.

Ron Kovic will talk about the making of "Born on the Fourth of July" at 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Bren Events Center at UC Irvine, at which time, he has said, he may announce his candidacy. He will be joined by the movie's director, Oliver Stone. A panel discussion will follow their presentation.

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