Re-reporting for Duty, Sir!


The Kerry campaign is starting to answer some of the charges emanating from Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and Unfit for Command.

Reports The Washington Post,

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."

Whole thing here.

Various yak shows last night were asking whether this flap helps or hurts Kerry. The consensus was that it won't hurt the guy as long as it remains the province of the cable news world, where viewers already know who they're voting for. It remains to be seen if the controversy remains quarantined to the fever swamps of The O'Really Factors of basic cable. But it seems to me that simply having the discussion is, on balance, clearly a liability for Kerry (who hasn't helped things by changing his Cambodian story). Coming out of the convention, his main public persona was that of world-weary war hero; anything that makes him defend that conception is time taken away from articulating programs that would help him get elected (and takes time away from throwing the spotlight on Bush).