Unfit for Command, or for Publication?


More Vietnamania: Today's Washington Times boasts the first of three excerpts from the anti-Kerry book Unfit for Command. A snippet:

Franke and about 200 others, the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, came forth in May to question Kerry's deception. These veterans from Kerry's unit signed a petition calling on him to execute Standard Form 180 and allow the public complete access to his service record.

Swiftees have remarked that if Kerry faked even one of these awards, he owed the Navy 243 additional days in Vietnam before running for anything.

Whole thing here.

The charges are pretty incendiary. I've got no idea of whether they're true or not (Kerry's shifting story on his holiday in Cambodia suggests that past accounting of his service days leave something to be desired), or even if true, voters will care about them (or should care about them, for that matter, any more than Bush's actions during the Vietnam era).

But what seems indisputable is that we remain in a weird age where an anti-war Democrat boasts of his service in a war he protested and pro-war Republicans accuse Democrat vets of being wussies and cowards. And where Dems fret over budget deficits while GOPpers say not to worry, etc., etc., etc.

NEXT: Gouge? Or Supply?

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  1. Matthew,
    Release his diary? Kerry’s records are incomplete, but they’re still more complete than Pres. Bush’s records that he released. I don’t recall more than one person ever saying they saw Bush and you’re asking for Kerry’s diary? That’s a tad bit intrusive, don’t you think?

    Kerry’s service may be on the light side for all the crowing, but it’s still a lot more than Bush’s. He saved a guys life, which does make him a hero. The problem is most people, myself included, like their heros humble and Kerry boasts about what he’s done. Besides, the hero McCain has denounced these attacks as well and called for the president to do the same. That’s going to be a huge boost for Bush. (Quick aside, outside of the “R”, why is McCain supporting Bush? Zell doesn’t care about his “D”)

  2. Madpad:

    You despise George Bush?

    You mention “corrupt and mendacious” politicians. So do you despise Bill Clinton too?

    And what finally tipped you off that Pres. Bush was such a mendacious man?

  3. Ryan,

    We’re certainly justified in military action.

    But changing their culture? Good friggin’ luck.

    I’m not living in some peace and love la-la land. I support what we CAN do which is fight terrorist, not what we CAN’T do which is change a whole culture.

    I never suggested that “Democratic politicians were war heroes and all Republicans had somehow avoided service” (obviously you haven’t checked it out).

    It IS damning in the context that it’s been the Republicans who have constantly and reliably beat the drum on the democrats-are-weak-on-the-military issue.

    No one is suggesting that you must serve to lead. But I am suggesting that before we cast our lots with a group of idealistic politicians, we consider their skills, background and motives.

    When it comes to waging war and using it to change a culture that go beyond the borders and population of those we fight, I’d rather we had someone with a little more experience and a lot less theory going for them.

  4. Bush has authorized the release of all of his records. If any are missing, its none of his doing.

    Kerry has not authorized the release of some of his records, thereby blocking their release. For a man who has made those four months of his life the foundation of a Presidential bid, and who has had some of the specifics of his account of those four months challenged, blocking the release of records look very bad.

    Is there a good explanation for Kerry’s refusal to allow these records to be released? I haven’t heard one.

  5. “If this is true, can’t Kerry just say he had “other priorities” at the time? It worked for Cheney.”

    The problem, Jennifer, is that Kerry is running on his record as a Vietnam War hero. He hasn’t done anything since then that he wants to talk about . . .

  6. Matthew,

    Did you learn all of your arguing skills watching Fox News?

    HANNITY PLAYBOOK- Interview Lesson #1: How to attack when you don’t know what else to do.

    “Take two seperate statements and put them together into a different unrelated question that attempts to nail someone on unconsistency and then ask it in a fashion that implies a character flaw.”

    I said I despise Bush. So do a lot of other people. But how does saying I despise Bush and saying I stopped being a Republican because they were no less mendacious than anyone else turn into “do you despise Bill Clinton too?”

    What kind of question is that?

  7. A: an all-too-typical one.

  8. madpad,

    We can’t change the culture, but we can set up a democratic free market Iraq and hope that the culture is able to change enough to maintain it.

    Basically, we can try to seed fundamental change in the region, or simply accept the idea that we will have to respond to terror attacks into the forseeable future.

    While I can see reasonable arguments both ways, frankly the Democrats and leftists in general have trouble admiting (or perhaps grasping) the fundamental point. Consequently they argue the details of our response without coming up with any real options in the big picture. Perhaps this is because they don’t want to be the pessimistic party that says: “we have no solution to the problem, we just have to improve our intelligence and security and accept that terrorism will happen”.

  9. “The problem, Jennifer, is that Kerry is running on his record as a Vietnam War hero. He hasn’t done anything since then that he wants to talk about . . .”

    That’s exactly it. It’s Kerry himself that keeps this issue going becuase he keeps talking about his status as a Vietnam vet and wanting to use his “hero” status as a prop to mold his image in the minds of the public – and to avoid having teh focus be on his liberal senate voting record, his fip-flopping ways on a bunch of issues, etc.

    All the squawking by the Dems and Kerry supporters about the vets questioning Kerry’s war record are merely trying to insure that Kerry has a “gimmee” on the issue. They want him to be free to continue making it a focus of his campaign and want to spin the idea that it’s “unseemly” for anyone else to raise questions or criticisms about it.

  10. madpad,

    I’m so glad you know everything. Damn, you’re obnoxious!

  11. Don,

    Not just Dem and Leftist but a lot of Republicans have a hard time with this one as well.

    Don’t make the mistake of assuming your opponent is stupid (ala your “or perhaps grasping” remark). I’m sure a lot of folks on both sides of the argument understand it just fine.

    As for myself, I see and understand the concept…I just question its wisdom. And no, that doesn’t make me a liberal, a leftist or a democrat.

    It makes me someone who can plainly see that this whole experience has been a big hairy ball of sh*t and it’s gonna keep being one for a long time.

    For the record, I hope it works. And now that we’re there, we need to stay and see it through. Leaving would be a disaster.

  12. Anymouse,

    Tsk, tsk, tsk. I don’t know everything…and neither do you.

    Fortunately, I’m not the most obnoxious poster I’ve read on this board.

  13. Madpad:

    I didn’t attack you, I asked you a question: Why do you despise Pres. Bush?

    You wrote that you don’t like corrupt and mendacious politicians, so I asked you another question about a very mendacious politician: Do you despise Bill Clinton?

    You said you were a Republican for 15 years until January 2004, so I asked: what finally turned you against Pres. Bush?

    I am not trying to imply you have any character flaw. I am honestly interested in what your answers to my questions are. The reason I stressed the word “despise” is because I don’t understand why you despise Pres. Bush. If other people despise him too, I would like to know why that is true as well.

  14. But what seems indisputable is that […] pro-war Republicans accuse Democrat vets of being wussies and cowards.

    What Republicans accused Democrat vets of being cowards? Please name two.

  15. Dan,

    Don’t hold your breath.

  16. Dan,


    Ollie North calls Gary Condit a coward


    Bill O’Reilly calls John Podesta a coward

    In his 9/11/03 radio show Rush, the ditto head, accused the Democratic Presidential Candidates and other critics of post war chaos of ?Being cowards?.ready to cut and run?.


  17. Shultz’s Third Law of Social Dynamics states explicitly that trends feed on their own momentum until they’re overwhelmed by a greater, countervailing trend.

    I read Kerry’s insistence on supporting the War in spite of the 9/11 Commission Report and in spite of the glaring absence of WMD and I read Kerry’s continued insistence on projecting himself as a war hero as evidence that the Kerry Campaign believes that the electorate’s blood lust is yet to be fully satisfied. And given the numerous examples of gross incompetence that American voters seem willing to ignore over the past few years, I suspect that the Kerry Campaign’s read is spot on.

    As Ken Layne’s superb piece suggests, which Hit & Run linked to a couple of posts down from this one, the Kerry Campaign can only benefit from controversy about his war record. You can’t broach the subject of his purple hearts without subconsciously bringing up a picture of Kerry in fatigues on a boat in the Mekong Delta sporting a grenade launcher. That’s the picture the Kerry people want in the minds of undecided voters.

    Pointing out that Kerry may have been untruthful about his war record is beside the point. The Bush Administration’s record on truthfulness about Iraq and all the issues surrounding Iraq is beside the point too. The point is blood lust and who is more likely to satisfy it in the future.

    I’ve been barking up the wrong tree for a long time. People don’t feel sympathy for twenty thousand dead civilians, Abu Gharib victims, Americans held without trial or access to an attorney, immigrants deported without trial or charge, turning our libraries and ISPs into agents of the secret police, or dead American soldiers; at least, these things don’t register with swing voters in a big enough way to drive them into the arms of an opposition party.

    Maybe it?s because people are still scared. I?m sure it would be different if Americans weren?t so afraid, and someday they won?t be so afraid. Something else will be more important to swing voters then, but that won?t happen until long after this election is over.

  18. I am in awe of how much time is spent on these types of debates. Reminds me of sports fanatics. [I know, I know there is more a stake than a championship, but you wouldn’t know it reading these ‘debates’]

  19. Let’s see, so far we have a lot of back-and-forth on John O’Neill, Kerry’s full military records and what consititues a “war hero.”

    May we now discuss documented events: That Kerry is in print, at least twice, lying about Cambodia Xmas 1968.

    In the non-Evan Thomas world, it would be somewhat difficult to say “seared in my memory” and then have your campaign come out with “on or near the vicinity of the Cambodian border.”

  20. Anybody else ticked off that the media appears not to have done even a cursory investigation into Kerry’s time in Vietnam. I mean, the Christmas-In-Cambodia story alone should have set off alarm bells. They should have called him on the 1979 version where he claims Nixon sent him into Cambodia even if they had no idea about any of the other matters involved.

    Why didn’t we hear about any of this last fall? Democrats in Iowa and New Hampshire seem to have selected Kerry because they believed his war record made him a better sell to undecided voters. Didn’t the press have an obligation to inform them he might be venerable?

    If Kerry does implode over this matter we need to ask some serious questions how well the press, the parties and the primary system function to vet candidates.

  21. Huh. I was always under the impression that the posters and such here would be a little more up to date, a little more education.

    1) Length of Kerry’s Vietnam service was not “four months”. That was the length of his Swift Boat service. He served for several months on the Gridley (which was considered “Vietnam serivce” as far as the Navy was concerned) and requested a transfer to swift boats (four months of training for that, I believe). And while Swift Boats didn’t move to a more combat intensive role until after his transfer, it was still a request to move from “Well off the coast” (beyond any real threat) to boats that were running the coast itself…and could and were shot at. The length of Kerry’s Vietnam service was 16 to 18 months, not “four”.

    2) Kerry’s medals. He was given three purple hearts for being wounded in battle. That they were for minor wounds is inconsequential (the military’s standard is basically “Requires a doctor’s attention and ‘in combat’, which covers both friendly and unfriendly fire”). He got his Bronze Star for pulling Ramussen (a Green Beret using Kerry’s boat as transport, not a regular member of his crew) out of the water under fire (Ramussen, who had known Kerry only a few days, put him up for the Silver Star for this. You don’t get to request your own medals). Kerry’s Silver Star (which, despite what you’d imagine, doesn’t get handed out like candy.) came from beaching his boat and killing some guy armed with a rocket launcher (IE, a guy who could have sunk his boat if he’d had time for one clear shot).

    Frankly, the whole Swift Boat thing reeks of desperation. I’m not sure how many people are going to buy that, thirty five years ago, Kerry somehow — through use of the Jedi Mind Trick, I suppose — conned dozens of people (including his own superiors) into nominating and awarding him for medals he didn’t deserve. I’m not sure what magical power Kerry had at 22, but that seems to be the thrust of the Swift Boat argument. “He didn’t deserve them, and he used his magical powers to make people nominate him for these awards, and used even more magic to ensure that the entire process was corrupted. It only took us 35 years to throw off his magical mind ray!”.

    Yeah, that’s believable.

  22. “Didn’t the press have an obligation to inform them he might be venerable?”

    Sorry that should have been read, “”Didn’t the press have an obligation to inform them he might be vulnerable?”

    Gotta, check the spellcheck sometimes.

  23. First, let me say that I really couldn’t care less about Vietnam and what Kerry did there. I couldn’t even care less about Bush going AWOL. Yes, yes, it gets annoying when these 2 baby boomers lie about various aspects of their service or lack thereof, but my understanding is that 30 years after a war it’s hard to get a veteran, especially a sailor, to tell a war story that’s 100% grounded in fact. My grandfather used to tell my mother and her siblings that he had saved Gen. MacArthur’s life. (In reality he manned anti-aircraft guns on top of a weapons plant in Riverside, CA, before being sent to train new artillerymen in the desert near Barstow.)

    However, while I couldn’t care less about what Bush and Kerry did or didn’t do in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Alabama, I do find it amusing to wonder why Kerry talks so much about it. Here are 2 possible reasons:

    1) He thinks that people will actually vote based on it. If so, then either he’s a lot dumber than I thought or the voters are a lot dumber than I thought. One way or another, somebody is being stupid. I hope it’s just him, because I’d hate to find out that there are millions of people that stupid.

    2) He doesn’t think people will vote based on Vietnam per se, but he believes that talking about Vietnam will shield him from accusations that he’s soft on matters of national security.

    I don’t know whether Vietnam should eliminate the need to discuss present-day national security matters, but I have a hunch that it might just shield him despite my wishes to the contrary.

    No doubt in 30 years I’ll get to watch some guy my age campaign based on his service in Iraq against an incumbent President who didn’t fight in Iraq. And both of them will be studiously avoiding the national security threat posed 30 years from now by, well, who knows? Probably some country other than Iraq.

  24. thoreau, I suspect it’s option 2, innoculation from “Democrat = pinko pacifist anti-American” lines of attack.

    I disagree with your assertion that “Vietnam [eliminates] the need (for Kerry) to discuss present-day national security matters.” Rather, I think that parrying the Republican “liberal=soft on defense” line allows actual discussion of national security issues to take place, rather than the usual inane arguments about whether the Democrat has enough balls.

  25. Oh, and I just decided to vote for Badnarik. After writing “I really don’t care about what they did in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Alabama” I asked myself which issues I do care about. That that’s really quite simple: I want to vote for a candidate who won’t squander all of my earnings on free heart medicine for an obese baby boomer who bought a condo in Palm Beach.

    My wife and I have enough worries figuring out how we’ll support my parents (who’ve had a lot of financial hardships) when they retire, and how we’ll help support her sick mother. We really don’t have the funds to buy pills for other retirees too, especially retirees who can afford to buy their own damn pills but are insisting that somebody else should pay for it anyway.

  26. The presidential debate, sadly, has become focused on behavior that occurred over 35 years ago. It’s analogous to a 55 year-old applying for a new job opening and being asked to supply his college transcripts! Anyone who has been through a job interview knows that employers look closely at what a candidate has been doing the past 5-10 years. The degree they earned 20+ years ago may be immaterial if their job experience is in another field, for example.

    John Kerry apparently feels that his “college transcript” so-to-speak is more important than his accomplishments over the past 10 years. Remember, he is the one who stood at the podium, saluted and stated that he is ready to “report for duty”. He is the one who is drawing all the attention to 30-year old military experiences and records.

  27. If so, then either he’s a lot dumber than I thought or the voters are a lot dumber than I thought. One way or another, somebody is being stupid. I hope it’s just him, because I’d hate to find out that there are millions of people that stupid.

    thoreau, it may not be in november, but someday you’re in for a hell of a disillusionment.

  28. “…heart medicine for an obese baby boomer…”

    You libertarians are really mean-spirited. After all I had to choose between giving up my trip to Hawaii or Europe this year or paying for my medication. The AARP* will work for me and put you whippersnappers in your place.

    *Association of Aged Rich People

  29. I’m annoyed by the focus on Vietnam not just because it was 30 plus years ago, but because I’m not sure why it would be relevant if it were yesterday. What does combat duty have to do with being president? Okay, you got shot at, and you shot back, and maybe you were good at it and brave and valorous. Wonderful. But how does that translate into being a good president? This “military duty equals good president” meme doesn’t seem to be supported by the historical record. We’ve had a lot of good generals who’ve become president, but not a whole lot of generals who’ve become good presidents.

    Madpad, I think you misread my post. I’m just saying that if, hypothetically, all Democrats were combat vets, it wouldn’t have squat to do with their skills vis-a-vis being president. I’m certainly not sure why you’d have come to the conclusion that being a junior officer would somehow give someone a superior foreign policy expertise. As for changing a culture being impossible, well, one might argue it’s been done before — Germany seems to be the one Europeans country least desirous of becoming a superpower.

    Can replacing a brutal dictator with a free government in an area not known for freedom help bring about positive cultural change? Seems plausible to me.

  30. “1) He thinks that people will actually vote based on it. If so, then either he’s a lot dumber than I thought or the voters are a lot dumber than I thought. One way or another, somebody is being stupid. I hope it’s just him, because I’d hate to find out that there are millions of people that stupid.”

    “2) He doesn’t think people will vote based on Vietnam per se, but he believes that talking about Vietnam will shield him from accusations that he’s soft on matters of national security.”

    I think it’s partly both of those reasons and also reason # 3 – the more he talks about Vietnam, the less he’ll have to talk about his (liberal) senate voting record and the less time he’ll have to spend explaining his flip-flopping positions on all the issues where he’s been trying to have it both ways.

  31. Several articles have pointed out that you actually find very little difference between George Bush’s actions and John Kerry’s voting record over the past four years. It’s hard to build a case for change when the “new boss” looks a lot like the “old boss”.

  32. Ollie North calls Gary Condit a coward

    Bill O’Reilly calls John Podesta a coward.

    Rush, the ditto head, accused the Democratic Presidential Candidates and other critics of post war chaos of ?Being cowards?.ready to cut and run?.


    Not even remotely. Not one of those men holds a position within the Republican Party. Also, I can’t find any reference to Podesta and Condit having served in the military.

    Now, it is possible that when Gillespie said “pro-war Republicans”, he was referring to ALL pro-war Republicans, rather than just pro-war Republican officials. But of course, since there are tens of millions of pro-war Republicans in the United States it can hardly be considered “weird” that some of them may have accused Democrats of being cowards. You could probably find a Democrat who thinks George Bush is a Martian invader and a Republican who thinks John Kerry is the Anti-Christ, if you cast that wide a net.

  33. The presidential debate, sadly, has become focused on behavior that occurred over 35 years ago. It’s analogous to a 55 year-old applying for a new job opening and being asked to supply his college transcripts

    To continue your metaphor — imagine if a 55-year-old Harvard graduate applied for a job at your company. He comes in for an interview, and responds to any tough question with “how dare you question my qualifications? I went to Harvard!”. Then it turns out he won’t even release his Harvard transcript, and gives inconsistent answers about his performance there…

  34. “But what seems indisputable is that we remain in a weird age where an anti-war Democrat boasts of his service in a war he protested and pro-war Republicans accuse Democrat vets of being wussies and cowards.


    I think the point is that in the not so distant past, “pro-war” Republicans were considered a bit too scary for the mainstream even by moderate Republicans. The idea of an anti-war Democrat trying to sex up his Vietnam experience would have seemed like a remote possibility not so long ago too.

    Got it?

  35. When Kerry decided to run on his war record, that meant he also had to talk about his anti-war record. Whatever is true about Kerry’s actions in the war, his activities after the war are are a bit, well, weird. Which makes one wonder, how smart could this guy be? It was kind of telling when he ignored everything he’s done in the Senate (whatever that is) to run solely on his Vietnam record.

    Could the Democrats have nominated the only guy in the race who was richer, whiter, and less articulate then Bush? Seems like it. It also seems like his campaign is completely incompetent.

    My current theory is that the problem with the Democrats this year is that they’re believing their own spin.

  36. and where Dems fret over budget deficits

    Well, not really. They are planning on cranking up the spending even more than Bush has, and have not put on the table anything like the kind of tax increases it would take to balance the budget.

    So, if they are fretting about deficits at all, it would seem to be because the Dems think they are too small.

  37. After combing through everything said by and about Kerry, the very best charge O’Neill and company have been able to come up with is the claim that Kerry wasn’t in Cambodia on Christmas Eve 1968. Okay, so he apparently went there in early 1969. Okay, so he was near the Cambodian border on Christmas Eve, and it’s difficult to tell whether he actually crossed it at any point during that night. The point is, it’s nevertheless entirely possible that he might have been wrong.

    And what a major breakthrough for the Republicans it would be if Kerry was shown to be wrong about such an earth-shatteringly important issue. Think about it: Kerry might have been mistaken about the exact date of something that happened decades ago! How could such a person be allowed to be the president of the United States of America? This could settle the election!

    (It should be pointed out here that Bush has claimed to have served in the US Air Force, when he in fact served in the Air National Guard. Bush has also claimed to have flown jets for several years after completing his training, whe he in fact flew for less than two years. These claims, however, couldn’t possibly settle the election, because they’re not all that important in the grand scheme of things – not compared to the date of Kerry’s incursion into Cambodia, anyway)

    As for the whining about the media ignoring the Cambodia story, if O’Neill and friends are judged to have no credibility left, they’ve only got themselves to blame. They really shouldn’t have lied about Kerry’s medals, for starters.

    For example, they claim Kerry didn’t deserve one or more of his Purple Hearts because his injuries weren’t severe. It sounds damning, but of course has nothing to do with the actual criteria for being awarded a Purple Heart, according to which Kerry easily qualified for each of his decorations. They ought to know as much, so when they ignore facts to attack Kerry, one comes to the conclusion that they’re being dishonest.

    They also should take a look at what people who actually were present have said before making up their stories. They claim there was no enemy fire when Kerry saved Jim Rassmann’s life by turning his boat around and pulling Rassmann from the river. Yet according to Navy records – just some of the multitudes of records released by Kerry – there was indeed enemy fire. Rassmann says there was fire today, but more to the point, he said so at the time. Why would Rassmann, who had only known Kerry for a few days when the incident happened, have lied to get Kerry a medal? O’Neill has no answer – nor credibility.

  38. While it is unseemly (and maybe worse) that the “swiftvets” are led by an ex-junior Nixon operative, It’s impossible not to see, Gillespie, that Kerry’s campaign is dead as Dillinger if Mr. “Reporting for Duty” is caught dead-to-rights in a lie about his Vietnam service.

    The Cambodia thing is in that territory, but the press seems to be giving Kerry a break on that.

  39. These are the best of times, and these are the worst of times! 🙂

  40. I can appreciate that Kerry may be lying about elements of his service.

    I can appreciate that O’Neill is almost certainly lying about 90% of the time himself.

    But I’ll be damned if I can figure out what’s so great about the Republicans when it comes to defense (before you “react”, consider that I NEVER, NOT ONCE EVER said that the Dems were great).

    First check this out: http://www.awolbush.com/whoserved.html

    It’s an overwhelming list of Dems who served…and Reps who didn’t and is pretty damning on its face.

    Second, I’ve read several times that veterans and people in the military fair much worse in terms of pay and quality of life under Republicans. My own brother in the army faired much better under Clinton than Bush.

    Third, patriotic issues aside, at least some of the past three years military efforts can be classified as blatently antagonistic and/or counter productive.

    The only difference I can really see is that if the Democrats are indeed weak and stupid, the Republicans are hopelessly addicted to sabre-rattling jingoism and hyperbole.

    If the Dems are afraid to act, the Reps are rash and foolish by comparison.

    I’m sorry, but after watching the last three years, most of the Republican efforts are no better than anything a Democrat would.

    Fact is they both suck…

  41. “I can appreciate that O’Neill is almost certainly lying about 90% of the time himself.”

    Evidence? Specifics?

    “First check this out: http://www.awolbush.com/whoserved.html

    Given that Bush has released his records and his story checks out, any site called “awolbush” is going to be so partisan I’m not going to bother to read it.

    BTW, Kerry claims to have released all his records, which is not true.

  42. “But what seems indisputable is that we remain in a weird age where an anti-war Democrat boasts of his service in a war he protested and pro-war Republicans accuse Democrat vets of being wussies and cowards.”

    Did Kerry kill anybody in this action? That’s the important question, isn’t it?

    Did he kill?

    No one, in this instance anyway, seems to be arguing that he didn’t participate in strafing the beach and the boats, so the Kerry campaign could argue that there may have been people on the beach or in the boats that were hit by his fire, which of course would mean that Kerry, in this instance, might have killed somebody.

    Now that isn’t as good as a confirmed kill; I know, but I haven’t really been following this story very closely. Are there any instances in which other soldiers have confirmed that Kerry shot or stabbed people to death? Because if there are such stories, I would expect the Kerry people to caw about them soon.

    Maybe he tore someone apart with a grenade!

  43. at least some of the past three years military efforts can be classified as blatently antagonistic. . .

    Umm, are any military operations not antagonistic? At least to the enemy?

  44. Yehudit,

    I just KNEW some right-wing zealot was going to respond.

    First, regarding evidence O’Neill is probably lying. O’Neill has maintained that he is non-partisan and does not subscribe to any political party when in fact he has donated over $14,000 solely to the Republican party only over the past 10 years.

    His efforts ar also being backed by 2 of Bushes biggest Republican cronies.

    His book, in case you’ve been sleeping over the past few weeks, has been torn apart by almost every critic NOT named Hannity or Limbaugh.

    Second, under the deeply-flawed assertion than anything partisan cannot possibly be accurate… your own unflagging and partisan support for Bush and O’Neill suggests that your own side is not accurate either.

    Lastly, Bush has NOT released his own military records regarding the principle time in question. He has release a bunch of inconclusive pay records and medical records that support only that he was physically able to fly…not that he actually showed up.

    THOSE records were recently declared to have been destroyed.

    Kerry’s military records, by contrast, can be found on his website.

  45. The issue with Kerry, as with Nixon in Watergate, and with Clinton vis-a-vis Monica, and with Reagan’s Iran Contra Scandal is trustworthiness. Nitpicking medals awarded 35 years ago is not going to carry any weight with the American people. But if Kerry cannot show that he has been honest and forthright, then he is going to suffer. If he appears to be hiding behind technicalities of the law, he will pay the price.

    Earlier this year, when the Bush AWOL issue came up, Bush ordered all records released. Nixon tried to hide evidence. Clinton wanted to debate the meaning of the word “is,” and claim that oral sex was not sex, and that by definition, Monica had sex with him while he simultaneously did not have sex with her. (She touched his penis, but he only touched her mouth.)

    By contrast, Reagan ordered his staff to fully cooperate with the investigation, and went on national TV to accept responsibility for his administrations actions. Depending upon your point of view, he may have weasled out of admitting prior knowledge, but according to his own confession, lack of prior knowledge was not a good excuse.

    If Kerry continues to refuse to release his military records, then it is reasonable for the American public to assume that Kerry believes stonewalling the issue is less damaging than releasing the records. In other words, there might be something there, there. Regardless whether or not it is true, the American public will assume some measure of guilt if Kerry is not completely open. Whether that measure is enough to sway their vote depends on other issues. But it will have some impact, even if that impact is not decisive.

    There is a saying that it is not the crime, but the cover-up that gets you. Well, that is true enough unless the crime is so bad it will get you anyway – as Nixon found out.

  46. R C Dean,

    Good point, although there’s probably a big difference between the antagonism of a miliary action to go after someone who attacked you and needlessly antagonizing a bunch of others who haven’t (yet…)

  47. The effect of the anti-Kerry vets isn’t that they could cripple Kerry and give Bush an advantage, but they could blunt what has become a serious Kerry advantage. Right now, there is a perception that Kerry showed a lot more honor and balls in his actions during the Vietnam War than Bush. This perception is playing hell with the superiority on “leadership” and military/defense/foreign policy issues that Republicans have taken for granted since the late 60s.

    Now, blunting an advantage is a lot easier than really damaging a candidate, because you don’t really have to offer proof. Taking a page from the anti-Clinton playbook, the ‘Publicans can make a charge on Monday, repeat it Tuesday, argue about it Wednesday, have it questioned Thursday, see it disproven Friday, and come out with a new charge next Monday. Lather, rinse, repeat. Even if none of the charges stick, after half a dozens repetitions, they can start talking about there being a cloud over John Kerry’s military service.

    The anti-Kerry vets aren’t a sniper’s bullet intended to kill him, but a spray of suppressing fire intended to make him keep his head down, so he can’t make forward progress. It’s an attempt to change momentum.

  48. Madpad,

    It is true that O’Neill gave $14,000 to Republicans over ten years, but it is also true that he gave $25,000 to Democrats over the last ten years, and he voted for Gore in 2000.

    From my point of view, I think this is a personal vendetta against John Kerry, not specifically Pro-Bush – even if he might be the beneficiary. I think O’Neill really, really despises Kerry and it stems back to his anti-war days of calling other Vets baby-killers and war-criminals.

    On the point of who benefits, there is a definite danger of backlash against the President on this issue, especially if O’Neill is truly an uncontrollable vendetta-driven individual. It is one thing if the whole scandal could be strategically controlled by the Bush campaign. But I just don’t see that happening, and I see a probability of a backlash that Bush will also not be able to control. So who ultimately benefits is questionable.

    The American people don’t like being played, and body language counts a lot. That is why I say that Kerry would be better off releasing all of his military records and letting the chips fall where they may. Even if records indicate his awards might have been inflated, everyone who has been in the military knows that awards are about maintaining morale moreso than actually rewarding behavior. A great many of us will conclude that whatever the judgement of his commanders in 1968-69 was is good enough for us, and second guessing military awards 35 years later is not acceptable.

    But Kerry is killing this potentially boosting reaction by stonewalling the issue. Maybe he thinks that it is too late to have the media combing through his records looking for a “gotcha” moment. But if that is true, he should have released the records way back in the Spring while Bush was being hammered. Then this would be old news. Either way, his campaign seems to be strategically inept. He knew back in May that this was coming. He should have handled it then, when no one was paying attention.

  49. If this is true, can’t Kerry just say he had “other priorities” at the time? It worked for Cheney.

  50. I was just going to say, you’re wrong Madpad–John O’Neil didn’t give soley to Republicans the past 10 years, he gave $25,000 to Democrats. And which critic tore this book apart, give me one name–aside from people working for the Kerry campaign.

    I mean it might very well all be lies, I don’t know. But Pro-Kerry people like you just engage in ad hominem attack. Show me proof the Swift Boat Vets are lying. The only one who seems to have his facts wrong is you.

  51. madpad,

    It’s not that anything deeply partisan is necessarily inaccurate. It’s that anything prima facie partisan is necessarily unpersuasive.

    Re whether we’re antagonizing someone who hasn’t already done anything, well, that’s the question, isn’t it? Isn’t it reasonable to argue that Saddam was ultimately in violation of what was effectively a peace treaty between the US and Iraq? (This seems undeniable.) Isn’t one of the big questions for debate whether Islamist terrorism is the result of deeper sociopolitical problems (authoritarianism, illiberality, etc) in many Arab countries? And isn’t a corollary to that question whether we can improve the situation by attempting to to bring free government to an Arab country? You can’t just assume the answers are “No.”

  52. Oh, one other thing you got wrong Madpad–the Bush records that where supposedly destroyed ended up being found a few weeks ago. They don’t resolve the question either way.

    I’d also like to know something. Bush was honorably discharged. Kerry was awarded his medals. If it’s sleazy to raise questions about Kerry’s service, isn’t it just as sleazy to assert Bush is AWOL without proof? Just wondering.

  53. madpad,

    you correctly state that the “assertion than anything partisan cannot possibly be accurate” is “deeply-flawed” yet at the same time you use the label “partisan” to attack the credibility of any source that doesn’t support your POV? and you call someone a “right-wing zealot” for asking for specifics or evidence of your statements? you had my concurrence when you stated that both parties suck but you lost it with this inconsistency and personal attack

  54. If I understand correctly . . .

    John Kerry fulfilled four months of a one year tour of duty in Vietnam. He was involved in one major firefight with the enemy. He was awarded three purple heart medals for injuries that basically required some Band-Aid’s. Afterwards, he devoted years to protesting his own actions in Vietnam.

    This is a war hero?

    In my mind, a war hero is someone like John McCain, who was shot down over North Vietnam and survived beatings and torture as a POW. When he was offered the chance to leave early, due to his dad’s position in the military, he turned it down. That is true courage.

    In John Kerry’s case, he used every opportunity he could find to get his three purple hearts and get out of Vietnam before he got killed.

    War hero? I think not.

  55. Scott harris,

    I think your analysis is pretty sound regarding the potential for backlash.

    I must question your facts, however, about O’Neill’s donation of $25,000 to Democrats.

    I checked O’Neill on OpenSecrets.org and could only find donations to Republicans.

    Can you point me in the direction of verifying that one?

    As for Kerry refusing to release his military records…they’re posted on his website – http://www.johnkerry.com.

    The main people saying he “refuses to release them” are Ann Coulter and Sean Hannity. I wouldn’t exactly treat anything Coulter says as gospel.

  56. Nick,

    Name a Republican that called a Democrat a “wuss” and/or “coward”. Please state a time when those words were used.

  57. Make that “Democrat vet”.

  58. So the only way to be a war hero is to be taken prisoner?

  59. scott,
    Aren’t Kerry’s medical records released, in a more complete form than Bush’s? That’s how we know the doc in the SwiftVets ad doesn’t have his name or signature anywhere on his medical records. If anyone is being sneaky and playing the American people in this regard, it ain’t the Kerry campaign.

  60. I believe I read that one of the guys claiming to have “served with Kerry” didn’t actually go to Vietnam until three months after Kerry left.

  61. John Kerry has posted a summary of his military service at


    Near the top, on the right, is a box with three links to various military records.

    The records are incomplete, though. While Kerry has posted some records on his website, he has yet to authorize the government to release all his records. For example, the medical records for his three purple hearts are nowhere to be found.

    Kerry could also answer a lot of questions by releasing his war diary.

    If Pres. Bush responded this way, everyone from madpad to Peter Jennings would be complaining of stonewalling.

  62. Ryan,

    Good points all but:

    “Isn’t one of the big questions for debate whether Islamist terrorism is the result of deeper sociopolitical problems (authoritarianism, illiberality, etc) in many Arab countries? ”

    I think the argument, from a western perspective, is that these are the causes.

    But since the U.S. is NOT the authoritarian entity restricting their liberties (outside of Iraq), why are they so pissed at us?

    I’ve been reading a lot about this and a great deal of the issue (see that book by Anonymous) is not that they’re oppressed by their own governments. They hate the U.S. because our culture is offensive to them in every respect…from feminism to nudity to alchohol…

    They see that as poisoning the leadership of their own region because we support the corrupt regimes.

    As for sociopolitical problems, it’s a problem for us certainly, but for them it’s more or less normal.

    BTW, I love you other folks than can’t possibly imagine that a person might not like either Bush or Kerry.

    For you, hating Bush automatically equates to Loving Kerry.

    There are plenty of things not to like about Kerry. His Vietnam service, however, (in my humble opinion) is not one of them.

  63. Matthew Goggins,

    Bush HAS responded that way and I AM accusing him of stonewalling.

    That doesn’t make me a liberal, a Kerry-lover or a Bush-hater (although I do, In fact, despise bush and am pretty open about it.)

    It merely means that I choose to think independently and base my opinions on facts (or try to anyway) and not on what a hyperventilating pundit spoonfeeds me.

    It might surprise you to know that until January of this year, I had been a Republican for 15 years.

    I just finally figured out that as politicians, they were as corrupt and mendacious as everyone else.

  64. Madpadm,

    If the problem is that they hate our culture and want us blown up on account of it, aren’t we justified in military action and changing their culture? It seems to me that part of the reason why they believe us to be the problem with their societies is because corrupt governments fund radical clerics who preach hatred of the West as a way of cementing their own party and forstalling revolution. If this is the case, it’s hardly a case “needlessly antagonizing a bunch of others who haven’t [attacked us].”

    As an aside, if it were true that all Democratic politicians were war heroes and all Republicans had somehow avoided service, I don’t see why it would mean anything, much less be “damning on its face.” Until we move to a _Starship Troopers_ style society, can we all agree that military service doesn’t impart an extra claim to rule? Why

  65. Sorry for the typo

  66. Gary, you missed the best part:Thurlow and other anti-Kerry veterans have repeatedly alleged that Kerry was the author of an after-action report that described how his boat came under enemy fire . . . As the senior skipper in the flotilla, Thurlow might have been expected to write the after-action report for March 13, but he said that Kerry routinely “duked the system” to present his version of events . . .

    Shorter Thurlow: If I’m a liar, it’s John Kerry’s fault!

  67. Folks, weather the charges are true, false (or more likely) a combination of both, the important thing to watch is how the candidates respond to the charges. There in lies the truth. And there in lies where you can actually learn something about a candidate.

  68. Military records counter a Kerry critic – http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5751284/

    Newly obtained military records of one of Sen. John F. Kerry’s most vocal critics, who has accused the Democratic presidential candidate of lying about his wartime record to win medals, contradict his own version of events.

    In newspaper interviews and a best-selling book, Larry Thurlow, who commanded a Navy Swift boat alongside Kerry in Vietnam, has strongly disputed Kerry’s claim that the Massachusetts Democrat’s boat came under fire during a mission in Viet Cong-controlled territory on March 13, 1969. Kerry won a Bronze Star for his actions that day.

    But Thurlow’s military records, portions of which were released yesterday to The Washington Post under the Freedom of Information Act, contain several references to “enemy small arms and automatic weapons fire” directed at “all units” of the five-boat flotilla. Thurlow won his own Bronze Star that day, and the citation praises him for providing assistance to a damaged Swift boat “despite enemy bullets flying about him.”


    Last month, Thurlow swore in an affidavit that Kerry was “not under fire” when he fished Lt. James Rassmann out of the water. He described Kerry’s Bronze Star citation, which says that all units involved came under “small arms and automatic weapons fire,” as “totally fabricated.”

    “I never heard a shot,” Thurlow said in his affidavit, which was released by Swift Boats Veterans for Truth. The group claims the backing of more than 250 Vietnam veterans, including a majority of Kerry’s fellow boat commanders.

    A document recommending Thurlow for the Bronze Star noted that all his actions “took place under constant enemy small arms fire which LTJG THURLOW completely ignored in providing immediate assistance” to the disabled boat and its crew. The citation states that all other units in the flotilla also came under fire.

    “It’s like a Hollywood presentation here, which wasn’t the case,” Thurlow said last night after being read the full text of his Bronze Star citation. “My personal feeling was always that I got the award for coming to the rescue of the boat that was mined. This casts doubt on anybody’s awards. It is sickening and disgusting.”

    Thurlow said he would consider his award “fraudulent” if coming under enemy fire was the basis for it. “I am here to state that we weren’t under fire,” he said. He speculated that Kerry could have been the source of at least some of the language used in the citation.

    In a telephone interview Tuesday evening after he attended a Swift Boat Veterans strategy session in an Arlington hotel, Thurlow said he lost his Bronze Star citation more than 20 years ago. He said he was unwilling to authorize release of his military records because he feared attempts by the Kerry campaign to discredit him and other anti-Kerry veterans.


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