Kerry's Home Movies

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Drudge is ablaze with news that back in Vietnam John Kerry reenacted some of his battlefields heroics for an 8mm movie camera:

The official convention video introducing Kerry is directed by Steven Spielberg prot?g? James Moll.

Moll was given hours of Kerry's homemade 8 millimeter film to incorporate into the convention short, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned.

"Kerry carried a home movie camera to record his exploits for later viewing," charges a naval officer in the upcoming book UNFIT FOR COMMAND.

"Kerry would revisit ambush locations for reenacting combat scenes where he would portray the hero, catching it all on film. Kerry would take movies of himself walking around in combat gear, sometimes dressed as an infantryman walking resolutely through the terrain. He even filmed mock interviews of himself narrating his exploits. A joke circulated among Swiftees was that Kerry left Vietnam early not because he received three Purple Hearts, but because he had recorded enough film of himself to take home for his planned political campaigns."

More here and here.

Needless to say this is the sort of revelation that right-wing types live for. And there is something decidedly creepy and bizarre about restaging scenes such as these–that's something everyone can agree on. Drudge cites a 1996 Boston Globe story which noted the films "reveal something indelible about the man who shot them—the tall, thin, handsome Naval officer seen striding through the reeds in flak jacket and helmet, holding aloft the captured B-40 rocket. The young man so unconscious of risk in the heat of battle, yet so focused on his future ambitions that he would reenact the moment for film. It is as if he had cast himself in the sequel to the experience of his hero, John F. Kennedy, on the PT-109."

"Indelible" isn't the word I'd use. Unseemly, yes. Disturbing, you bet. Weird as hell, yup.

But will this sort of revelation have any real effect on Kerry's campaign? Somehow I doubt it. GOP operatives thought they had Clinton nailed to the wall when his ridiculous draft-dodging letters came to light. But the letters didn't ruin the guy. The last-minute revelation of George W. Bush's drunk-driving record didn't keep him from becoming prez. And when it comes to embarrassing home movies, Paris Hilton has made everything short of a snuff film just a prelude to a Fox reality series.

More important, the Reps can't afford to dwell too long on Kerry's military experience, regardless of the context. It raises too many "Where Was George?" questions for their guy.

But this latest revelation does make the convention video more interesting to watch than otherwise.

NEXT: Confusing Professional Politics With 'Service'

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  1. I think history shows quite unequivocally that Presidents, and those who unsuccessfully run for that office, are nothing like you and me.

  2. is there a national politician alive or dead that isn’t enamored of transcendant glory?

    it is bizarre and revealing if true, of course — not because he originally staged them, but because the head men of the dnc would think it’s a good idea to air them as some kind of a video montage/paen to war and ego. the man who filmed that crap passed on 30 years ago; the guy who’s deciding to use it is here now.

  3. What’s Regnery Publishing Net like since Clinton was elected?

    My broker tells me that I should support Bush because my portfolio growth rates depend on it. Defence and “Hate America” are my two best performing sectors.

  4. Does it make a difference that the naval officer who’s making these allegations never crossed paths with Kerry in Vietnam (he served after Kerry had left the country)? No, probably not.

  5. I agree with you, Nick. Don’t think this affects the campaign at all, so that makes it no BFD.

  6. A. No, it won’t make any difference.

    B. It goes to character

    C. But I wouldn’t want to be judged by some of the really stupid ass things I did at age 19 either.

    D. C doesn’t count for Kerry because he put it up in shining lights on national TV.

  7. Gillespie is being a bit disingenuous with the “Bush’s DUI didn’t keep him from becoming Prez” statement:

    The Bush DUI story was the best political dirty trick/smart bomb ever released…Gore came storming back in the closing days of the campaign fueled almost exclusively on suburban white voters’ focus on the negative revelation.

    So yes, it didn’t keep him from becoming Prez…but his campaign bandwagon hit a land mine a few meters from the finish line and inertia carried it across.

  8. Don’t be too sure about whether this will affect the campaign. Donna Brazile’s hit job on Bush cost him a few percentage points, by all accounts, and came within a few hundred votes of costing him the election. Bill Clinton never came close to a true majority, in part because of the hard-core of Clinton-haters that never ceased to draw energy from his Viet nam war antics.

    In a campaign that is shaping up to be as close and bitter as this one, everything you can do drive up the other guy’s negatives is a very real step closer to victory. In this battle, I have to think the Dems have taken their best shot at Bush already, and the Rove machine is just beginning to rev up on Kerry.

  9. I’d liek to think there might of been another reason for the filming, namely that they wanted to show a video record of sorts like they have in court cases where they re-enact what happened to visually fill out what the witnesses testify on.

    I find the whole Swift Boat Vet for Truth bit mildly disturbing, since no one then clearly saw to reprimand or discipline him for so called “reckless” actions and the like, and while thats not necessarily proof of innoncence (paticuarly in Nam where rather large oversights were allowed when it came to discipline), one has to wonder why the people under him still respect him, and yet all his superior officers, most of whose experience with him is either non-existant or merely routine, bash him.

    Again, raising this issue will only raise the howls of where the hell Bush was during the same period, and God knows the RNC doesn’t want to raise that issue.

  10. I’d liek to think there might of been another reason for the filming,

    But there isn’t – the whole thing shows a glory hound at work. He wasn’t preparing for a court case, he was preparing for a political career.

  11. R.C. Dean,

    Clinton came relatively close to a majority of the votes cast in 1996 – just a shade under 50% as I recall.

  12. he was preparing for a political career
    Yes, preparing in a place where he could’ve been literally blown to bits. That’s far different than W, who prepared for politics by working on a 1972 senatorial campaign in Alabama.
    Besides, wasn’t it better that Kerry took pictures while others took enemies’ ears?

  13. This is old “news”. I’ve seen some of the reinactments on 60 Minutes about a year ago, when the whole Kerry-as-war-criminal story was petering out. Some of you might remember 60 Minutes back before the internet when you still watched TV. They still make that show. I don’t know if Drudge is old enough to have ever watched it.

    I don’t know how common it was to carry around 8mm equipment. I bet lots of guys carried cameras. It does seem strange to film yourself in a war. But who else was going to film him? Anyway, we can all be thankful that he showed the good taste to avoid filming himself next to piles of naked prisoners.

  14. I can’t believe he referred to the young Kerry as “handsome.” Kerry’s chin was even creepier back in those days.

  15. every time bush strapped on that jet over 5 years of service he subjected himself to more danger than at any time kerry pursued his ‘three (months & medals) and out’ strategy for political glory

    if he re-enacted his coup d’ grace of the unconscious vc, would this qualify as a snuff flick?

    kerry dishonored his claim to service by lying about his fellow officers being war criminals and legislating to make his country vulnerable

    brin ’em on!

  16. let’s see — the man making these claims never served with kerry; is trying to sell a book; the source is drudgereport; hours after the initial posting on drudge the story still links to drudge’s own document.

    yeah, this story has oodles of credibility. what the hell happened to hit n run the last few weeks? is the prospect of a kerry presidency starting to give the posters here the sweats so much they’re turning into the corner-lite?

    i think hit n run has jumped the shark. jeez.

  17. I am only saying this as a casual observer, but it is my sense the American public develops a “gut feeling” about political candidates. The sense on Bush was, for lack of better phrase, “frat boy.” The anecdotes that portray Bush as not terribly bright don’t seem to surprise many people. I think there was a nascent sense that Howard Dean was wound a little tight which is why the “yeargh!” killed his campaign. Need I say anything about the picture of Dukakis in the tank?

    America is still thinking about Kerry, but there’s a growing feeling that the guy is a little creepy. I don’t know if the films are real or not, but I think the anecdote resonates because it fits this sense of Kerry. On this note, I don’t think his wife is going to help his campaign.

  18. It does seem strange to film yourself in a war. But who else was going to film him?

    It seems more than strange to me. I can’t speak from direct experience, but being the son of a man who fought combat in two wars, I can say that the person who brings the camera films everyone else. Yes, there are the occasional posed ‘buddy’ shots when not in combat, but combat photography is pretty much exclusively of ‘everyone around you’. I own several cameras and am the primary photographer in my family. Guess who’s the least seen in all the family video and photos?

    Speaking for myself, I’m kind of ‘scandaled’ out with presidents, and prospective presidents- so I kind of don’t care.

    But making a cold, hard judgement on this issue, for Kerry to have hours of video of himself suggests that at the worst, there’s some hanky panky going on- and at the least, a creepy sense of narcissism exists within the man.

    Paul

  19. for Kerry to have hours of video of himself
    Stop right there. The facts as reported don’t back that statement.
    According to Drudge, there are hours of film. Period. Nothing about what’s on them.
    I’d gamble, if this was Kerry’s camera, also as reported, he filmed lots of other people – just as you said, Paul.

  20. GOP operatives thought they had Clinton nailed to the wall when his ridiculous draft-dodging letters came to light. But the letters didn’t ruin the guy. The last-minute revelation of George W. Bush’s drunk-driving record didn’t keep him from becoming prez.

    The draft-dodging letters didn’t hurt Clinton never made “what he did during the Vietnam era” a core piece of his campaign. He correctly perceived that most Americans simply don’t care; they already knew he’d done all that he could to avoid the draft, just like virtually every other man his age.

    On the other hand, the drunk-driving record DID hurt Bush; it is generally considered to be the reason why he ended up statistically tied with Gore, instead of clearly defeating him. One reason for the impact was that Bush had run as a “values” candidate; and DUIs conflict with that image.

    Kerry has run, on the basis of his Vietnam service, as the brave, selfless, and patriotic candidate. If words like “weird”, “self-involved”, and “pretentious” get appended to that list of adjectives, that could very well hurt him. It might not hurt him *much*, but since the race is currently tied, and about 10 to 20 percent of voters are undecideds who dislike both candidates, a small shift in opinion could have large effects.

    More important, the Reps can’t afford to dwell too long on Kerry’s military experience, regardless of the context. It raises too many “Where Was George?” questions for their guy.

    I think that misses the point. Yes, if they had their druthers the Bush campaign would eliminate all references to Vietnam from the campaign. However, they’re not going to be able to do that, because the Kerry campaign knows that Kerry’s Vietnam service is one of his few significant accomplishments, and they mention it every chance they get. So it’s inevitable that Kerry’s Vietnam service will be dwelt on at lenght; the Republicans are forced to either remain silent, or attempt to diminish what Kerry did.

    So far, the Republicans have one big weapon to use against Kerry, which is that scads of swiftboat veterans have come forward to say that they thought he was a schmuck. Now they have a second weapon, which both strengthens the “schmuck” story AND (unfairly, I admit) diminishes Kerry’s military service by making it look like a publicity stunt.

    I suspect that a skilled political ad designer could work wonders with this home movie footage and a Kerry’s anti-war activities. Kerry re-enacting his “heroic exploits” for a movie will play wonderfully against his Congressional testimony about alleged horrors of Vietnam.

  21. Dan,

    “…which is that scads of swiftboat veterans have come forward to say that they thought he was a schmuck.”

    Scads?

    “Now they have a second weapon…”

    If the allegation is true; it may prove to be as truthful as the claim he screwed that girl on his staff.

  22. Gold Star:
    Stop right there. The facts as reported don’t back that statement.
    According to Drudge, there are hours of film. Period. Nothing about what’s on them.
    I’d gamble, if this was Kerry’s camera, also as reported, he filmed lots of other people – just as you said, Paul.

    And I agree completely. I didn’t mean to suggest that all this was fact- I was simply making a judgement based on the face value statements (or suggestions) that there were hours upon hours of video of Kerry (enough for editors to pore through and pick the hilights). Like I said, I don’t care- but if it’s true, that it turns out that Kerry came back from VietNam with said hours of ‘autobiographical’ video- then I stick to my opinion.

    I think what Jose said earlier is a good rough assessment of political theater. We all get ‘gut’ feelings about people after seeing all of the stories, scandals and what not, and develop a gut feeling of their personality. There seems to be enough circumstantial evidence about Kerry to suggest that he’s an extremely calculating politician.

  23. Kerry doesn’t look self absorbed in the film. There is footage of the boat, the river, the other guys, and him talking with the other guys. Everybody has already seen some of these tapes since they were on 60 Mintes last year. Maybe he meant these for his family, or for his kids. Who knows. But from the portion of the tapes shown on 60 Minutes, Kerry doesn’t look like a wacko.

  24. “…which is that scads of swiftboat veterans have come forward to say that they thought he was a schmuck.”

    Scads?

    “Scads” is a slang term for “a large number or amount”.

  25. every time bush strapped on that jet over 5 years of service he subjected himself to more danger than at any time kerry pursued his ‘three (months & medals) and out’ strategy for political glory

    I would never doubt that flying a fighter jet is dangerous. But I think going up against people with guns is also pretty dangerous. Even if it was only for 3 months, he clearly saw some action. Undoubtedly less action than a lot of soldiers have seen, but still real danger.

    Because he’s a scammer who “got over” and kept them away from any real danger?

    Is that why his team was in fire fights? Because he kept them away from any real danger?

    I’ve never been in the military, so I’m obviously no expert on war, but I respect anybody who could lead men into battle, be fired on by the enemy, and retain the respect of his troops. Clearly he did something right.

    And I’ve seen conflicting arguments in here about whether his actions with the camera were signs of a glory-hound. But I like the poster who pointed out that taking pictures is better than taking ears from enemies. Or, as my grandmother saw when she was a US Army Lieutenant on the front lines in the Philippines, men mounting enemy skulls on their jeeps because they’ve been driven completely insane by battle. (She was a nurse, and not a nurse in a convalescent hospital far from the front lines. She was in a hospital tent near the battle.)

    I won’t suggest that Bush was any less brave than Kerry (that determination should be left to people who have actually put their lives in danger for their country and know something about bravery, i.e. people other than me). But I don’t think there’s any denying that it took some guts to do what Kerry did. And if he was a glory hound, he certainly wouldn’t be the first young man to do dangerous things for the sake of glory. I believe that a number of Presidents have done some stupid things in their younger days, and yet the Republic has endured the election of 50 year-old men who did stupid things when they were 25.

  26. There seems to be enough circumstantial evidence about Kerry to suggest that he’s an extremely calculating politician.
    I don’t mind that if he can deliver once in office.
    Campaigning and policymaking – the peanut butter and jelly of today’s elected leaders. Maybe we could come up with a list of politicos who executed one very well, but the other poorly. Empty suits who look great on the stump vs. brilliant wonks the public finds uninspiring, or worse yet, unappealing.
    Seriously, if the candidate is going to lead well then I’ll allow some breathing room in what I think of him as a person/campaigner. Exhibit A: Clinton, Bill.

  27. Where are the “scads” of vets to testify about Shrub’s whereabouts in Alabama? Not a single one has ever said they ran in to him, talked to him or had a beer with him. Everybody knows where Kerry was and some groups had different opinions of his behavior. But by god he showed up.

    The little shit, Shrub, got put to the top of the list to dodge into the Guard and then didn’t even show up and now is working to impune a Vet who did. That’s crap.

  28. It takes a lot of chutzpah to criticize John Kerry for “Staging a hero act” when the spectacle still sticks in my throat of seeing the “W” landing on an aircraft carrier in a jet plane dressed in borrowed combat pilot drag–all to declare “mission accomplished” about a decade before it actually will be–and in violation of a long standing tradition that presidents of the U.S. have always worn civilian clothes, not military drag. If the GOP wants to make an issue of Kerry’s 8mm, “bring it on.”

  29. In the early 1970s, 8mm movie cameras about the size of a 2000-vintage camcorder were pretty damned popular. They used convenient little film catridges and ran on AA batteries. You’d drop the film off at Fotomat and a few days later you got your movies on a reel, ready to show on your wall with an affordable 8mm projector. If you were a geek, you’d get a splicing block, a magnifier, some tape and a razor blade to do some very analog editing.

    Soldiers at war have been carrying cameras in their knapsacks since the invention of roll film and movie and video cameras since they got small enough to bring along. A soldier in Vietnam shot 8mm movies of his patrols, his buddies, the places he went and, yes, the places where he got shot so he could explain it to his family and maybe leave documentation of his last days behind in case he didn’t make it back.

    Right now a whole lot of soldiers in Iraq are taking pictures, of others, of themselves, of locals, of carnage, of latrines and whatever else.

    Doesn’t sound weird to me. Or unusual.

  30. Really, Nick. You’re not doing a good job of this “neither of the above” thing. What did a Democrat do to you when you were a kid? You can tell us.

  31. Was there ever any doubt that “Live Shot” was a solid political tactician, or at least surrounded by a few? Someone advised him well in his youth.

    Kerry was a hockey player who never passed the puck – and I mean that literally. He doesn’t pass bills: he missed the vote that would have enabled a 13 week jobless extension package because he was campaigning in Kentucky. Maybe not a big deal, but I do like the contrast with an earlier press release: “As George W. Bush stood by and allowed unemployment insurance to expire for 1.1 million Americans…” Hey, he finally passed something…the buck.

    So here we have a selfish, image obsessed brat whom we’ve been paying to come up with a miraculous tax plan.

    What does your gut tell you?

  32. As a veteran, I find a guy who would re-enact running into a hut to off a wounded (and apparently out-of-the-fight) enemy soldier, and then later run on that particular incident, is pretty creepy. It’s (1) perilously close to a warcrime, depending on how badly the guy was injured and whether he was trying to surrender, and I wouldn’t personally brag about something like that; (2) it’s just plain creepy; and (3) as somebody who served with an infantry unit, I’m not terribly impressed with the light action Kerry saw, even by his own description of it. Most of the grunts who served in VietNam saw far heavier action than Mr. Kerry, and troops in certain units – 1st Marines, 101st Airborne, 1ID, were involved in honest-to-God toe-to-toe fighting. Moreover, his purple hearts – with no time lost – sound more like the “medal orgy” that REMF officers often enjoyed in VietNam, where a toe stubbed during a light mortaring was grounds for the award. A lot of grunts took rounds and shrapnel, never missed a minute on the line, and never received a purple heart for it.

    It’s not so much the quality of his service or the creepy re-enactment that I question; it’s the fact that he is running on and painting it as heroism – the slow-mo film montage set to music, etc. Fuck that. It’s like the guy who was the 12th player on an NBA bench for three or four months, passing himself off as a former NBA star. Maybe it’s technically correct in some sense, depending on how much slack you feel like cutting the guy. And to accept this Kerry war hero line, you have to gut him a whole hell of a lot of slack. There’s something immodest and basically wrong about the way he’s running on his service, and if you’ve buried some friends who were real heroes, who received little or no accord other than peer recognition, you might have some trouble buying Kerry’s act. There’s something off about it – even more off than his story about crawling around on his belly in the North woods to hunt deer. (A complete howler, BTW).

    FYI – I also have read that when he’s depressed, he sits in his studies and watches the films for hours on end. Again, it’s not damning – just really off.

  33. I’m not sure if rst is supposed to be anti Kerry, but reading the article you linked to, its actually positive towards Kerry, marking him as not the New England rich windbag that people accuse him of being.

    As for the other bits, its inevitable he would miss most of his votes this year due to the campaign, but so what?

    I’m kind of weirded out by the seemingly conservative assault that has hit the Reason commentary lately, jizzing on and on about the Reason’s staffs knocks on Kerry, and completely ignoring that Reason is no friend to Bush either ( and rightly so).

  34. to accept this Kerry war hero line, you have to cut him a whole hell of a lot of slack.
    Where’s your Silver Star, Stephen?

  35. I’m not sure if rst is supposed to be anti Kerry

    The writer is free to make whatever spin of it he wants.

    I’m kind of weirded out by the seemingly conservative assault

    Bush has been quiet relative to Kerry and the Democrats.

  36. [i]The writer is free to make whatever spin of it he wants.[/i]

    But you linked, within your anti Kerry argument, to an article that, for the most part is pretty positive on the canidate, and portrays Kerry as an outsider, albeit an ambitious one. If your point was to reinforce his selfishness, you could of chosen a lot more damning articles.

    [i]Bush has been quiet relative to Kerry and the Democrats.[/i]

    Umm…what are you talking about? I was talking about Reason’s assault on both candidates, and the fact that for the most part, no Libertarian is overtly pleased with either side (I personally side with Kerry over social issues, despite disagreements in economics). I wasn’t talking about either candidates campaigns, though if you want to argue which side has been “most quiet”, well, none has. Both sides are lobbing tons of money and rhetoric at each other. This election has seen the most money donated ever, if I remember right, and the Republicans have collected and spent the lions share of it, so the idea that the Republican’s have been twiddling there thumbs and playing patty cakes is bullshit. There engaged just as much in the partisan war as the Dems, and anyone who denies that is either living under a rock or suffering from patriotic delusions that defending the Republican party is tantamount to patriotism.

  37. “Because he’s a scammer who “got over” and kept them away from any real danger?”

    Is that why his team was in fire fights? Because he kept them away from any real danger?

    I have no idea if he was a scammer or not, but pointing out that he was in firefights doesn’t refute the accusation. You couldn’t “scam” your way completely out of danger without getting courtmartialed. Personally, I don’t think he was a “scammer”, although I do think he joined the military solely for the PR value of it.

    My theory on why he’s disliked by large numbers of swiftboat veterans, but liked by most of his crew: during the short time he fought in the war, he did a decent job, and he kept his crew alive. Obviously, that’s the kind of thing a crew appreciates. But then he went back to the United States, and proceeded to knowingly spread hateful and slanderous lies about the military forces fighting in Vietnam. To his crew, he’s “that guy who kept us alive for three months”. To everyone else, he’s “that cocksucker who built his political career by pretending we’re a bunch of mass-murdering rapists”.

    So it’s easy to see why his crew might think “that guy who kept us alive” might make a good President. And it’s easy to see why other swiftboat crews might think “that pathological liar who did incredible harm to our reputations and our ability to fight the war” might NOT make a good President.

    And one more thing:

    Where’s your Silver Star, Stephen?

    So I guess now we know what a war hero is. A war hero is someone who got a medal — if you haven’t got a medal, you’re not a hero, and if you HAVE got a medal, you are. Or so this guy apparently believes…

  38. If your point was to reinforce his selfishness

    I thought the fact that he was an athlete in team sport who never passed the puck or ball was telling enough. I don’t think I need to go hunting for an article spinning him into a war criminal to point out a notable character flaw. Should I pity him because The Machine is pigeon-holing him? Maybe. Doesn’t mean I’d vote for him.

    seemingly conservative assault that has hit the Reason commentary lately

    You were talking about the conservative assault. And I said relative to Kerry. When the RNC gears up the lefties will come out of the woodwork…it’s easier to tear down than to build up.

    And I am not a libertarian.

  39. No way, Jose. You got me all wrong. I really don’t want recognition. I wanted to make a point about the way Kerry is running. As to Gold Star, well, I don’t want recognition, but on the other hand, I’m not going to let numbnuts call me out as a chickenhawk or somesuch, in his effort to score cheap rhetorical points.

  40. No way, Jose. You got me all wrong. I really don’t want recognition. I wanted to make a point about the way Kerry is running. As to Gold Star, well, I don’t want recognition, but on the other hand, I’m not going to let numbnuts call me out as a chickenhawk or somesuch, in his effort to score cheap rhetorical points.

  41. I meant recognition in the blander form. I hardly to expect “Gold Star” to applaud your service, but he/she could at least acknowledge that your personal experience gives you some credibility in evaluating the subject.

    As for whitetail hunting, I expect it is possible to kill the animal from the prone position. Whitetail are fairly common in the eastern U.S. and many rather nonplussed by human presence. There are also circumstance where topography or vegetation allows a prone stalk… but given the difficulty of moving quietly, it is rather difficult. In my experience, most of eastern American hunting is done in blinds or stands.

  42. Hey, Gold Star. Fuck you.

    Anybody who’s served in a combat zone with a line unit knows that any medals you come back with, is a sort of random thing, and that guys in line units are expected to fight and maybe get wounded or killed, and not get a whole lot of recognition for it. When I was discharged I had a few awards for doing some things, but it’s irrelevant to my worth as a person, or even as commentary on my worth as a soldier. I’m sure some posters here would tell you that any recognition I received was surely flawed, as essentially irreconcilable with my uselessness as a human. However, I did what I did, I think I never shirked, and I was given what I got by way of command recognition simply because that’s what the command felt like doing. They could have given me higher awards, or lower awards, or none at all, such is the lack of linkage between medals and the acts that typically result in them. The Medal of Honor is a bit different – very few people get that without having done some serious shit – but most of the lower awards that do not receive presidential scrutiny are awfully flexible.

    To wit, there were guys I served with who deserved really high awards and didn’t get them; there were a number of people – especially higher ranking officers and enlisted – REMFs who received awards basically as a ticket punch, who really didn’t deserve them. And one of my colleagues, who probably “deserved” a Medal of Honor, if you believe in a world where military medals correspond accurately and universally to one’s deeds under fire, was shit out of luck. My colleague’s award recommendation was drafted by an officer from another unit who witnessed his heroic acts. Our response to what he had done was “holy shit, I don’t know that I could have done that.” The award was downgraded from a Silver Star to a Bronze Star with “V” device (for valorous conduct under fire) because, as the Battalion Ops Officer tactlessly put it in front of the enlisted staff, “he doesn’t have enough rank for a Silver Star.” Needless to say, most of the Captains and above in the Battalion received Silver Stars, or at least Bronze Stars (without “v”), never mind that most of them didn’t hear a shot fired in anger. That colleague of mine was a hero; he did some mind-boggling things under heavy fire, literally saving 10 unconscious troops, and he bears burn scars all over his body as a result. And one other thing, he actually really earned his Purple Heart – he refused medevac, stayed in the fight for the next three or four days with bandages on his arms, leg and head covering painful burns, and then needed reconstructive surgery – skin grafts and the like, after we redeployed. Since he only received a Bronze Star and one Purple Heart, should I conclude that what he did is less heroic than John Kerry and the REMF officers in our unit, and that his injuries were somehow slighter? Should I also think that my colleague would have no grounds to question those REMFs, because he didn’t receive a Silver Star like they did?

    Frankly, while John Kerry’s actions in chasing some guy into a hut and shooting him may have merited notice among boat crews, it’s no more courage or initiative than any infantry private is expected to do, on a routine basis if necessary. I’d warrant that if John Kerry’s actions in VietNam make him qualified to be president, then we have several tens of thousands of men in the Army and Marines right now, who are much more qualified than him to lead the country. And I guess that’s the heart of my problem with his claims. I don’t disrespect his honorable service, and I don’t want to derogate what he did, but I have a problem with the way he is capitalizing it because all he did, was his duty; and he and his backers are painting him as the second coming of Manila John Basilone. It just ain’t true, and like his hunting story about crawling around on his belly to hunt deer (OMG…) the only reason he can get away with it is I suppose there aren’t enough people who have served in the military any more, to be able to sift the truth from the bullshit.

  43. Language, Stephen, language.

  44. Stephen Fetchet,

    Damn straight you are right. Anyone who has ever actually been to war knows that winning medels is as much random as anything. First, if you knew what it actually takes to get a silver star or medal of honor, your first response would be “I don’t want one.” These awards are nearly always the result of some poor bastard being in the wrong place at the wrong time and having to do something rediculous to get him and his buddies out of it. Second, there are lots of people who deserve awards in war that don’t get them. I saw plenty of staff officers who never heard a shot fired in anger get bronze stars because they worked for a general who could approve them while privates who were out risking their lives on convoys every day were lucky to get anything. Anyone who hasn’t been there has no right to ask, “where is your silver star?”

  45. Not to interrupt the lovefest, but here is a link that sheds a bit of light on the videos:

    http://vietpage.com/archive_news/politics/2002/Sep/7/0080.html

  46. I think the conversation would have been better served, Gold Star, by recognizing Mr. Fetchet’s service and re-focusing on the issues of the alleged 8mm films and how Kerry’s service (whatever its character) relates to his qualification as a presidential candidate. Mocking his profanity suggests the kind of courage afforded by anonymity of the Internet, which is to say, none at all.

    As a hunter, I am puzzled by Kerry’s apparent account of hunting deer from a low crawl. Perhaps he was hunting a species other than whitetail on a continent other than North America. There are some African plains game where a lengthy crawling stalk is not unusual. Hunting whitetail in the Eastern U.S. by crawling around the forest on one’s belly? Perhaps, but not successfully.

  47. Hunting whitetail in the Eastern U.S. by crawling around the forest on one’s belly?

    Again it goes to his character. That you will have 0 success hunting any prey animal by crawling through a forest on your belly (it will smell you, hear you, and/or see you before you can even crane your neck up enough to see it) is not important, what is important is that he’s a democrat who hunts.

    That’s why Kerry – with his 57% job absentee rate *before* he started campaigning – wants to be president. “Just For Kerry” wants the image, not the job.

  48. Maybe it was his first wife he was hunting. “Over here, dear…”

  49. “You were talking about the conservative assault. And I said relative to Kerry. When the RNC gears up the lefties will come out of the woodwork…it’s easier to tear down than to build up.”

    I know what I was talking about and I was talking about the flood of conservatives onto the blog comments here. I wasn’t talking about the broader poltical world or anything else.

    And of course shits going to hit the fan when the RNC starts up its convention, since hey, what do you know, thats whats happening RIGHT NOW with the Dem convention. It’s how politics works. Everyone lobs shit at each other and, like I iterated before, anyone who believes that one party or the other doesn’t engage in vicious partisan argument, bickering, and duplicitous moves in order to win elections is delusional or living under a rock. Even the third parties are rife with internal tensions and bickering, even in the supposedly ideologically pure realm of the Libertarian Party.

  50. Uh huh, another vet who never laid eyes on Kerry until he saw him at an anti-war event and opposed his politics comes out with another cock and bull story. Whatever.

    As for the theory that he was promoting himself for office – when Kerry came back and joined VVATW, he had every reason to except that his public stance would make him ineligible for future political office. While he was testifying in Congress, people were accusing him of treason for his actions. So it seems a little odd to claim that he was building a resume for future office.

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