If anybody has the moral right to question John Kerry’s war record, it would be the Vietnam veterans whose war record was besmirched by John Kerry. That narrows the field to all of them. An organization of slandered veterans who have elected to confront Kerry calls themselves the Swift Boat Veterans For Truth. And they have launched an independent anti-Kerry campaign refuting much of the self-congratulatory combat autobiography that Kerry claims qualifies him to be president. How dare they? I say, how dare anybody ignore them?
They have the right to speak out because the United States Constitution gives them that right. But, they also deserve the right to be listened to, because their own service was besmirched by John Kerry. Kerry now claims that his valor is above reexamination. But he never hesitated to throw mud on the service of those who also fought with distinction in that same war.
Like many others of that era, John Kerry returned from Vietnam an embittered man. There is nothing wrong with that. He should have been bitter. Lyndon Johnson fabricated the Gulf of Tonkin incident as a pretext for launching a full-scale war against North Vietnam and communist South Vietnamese guerillas. Johnson then hobbled the military and made victory impossible. By the hundreds of thousands, young Americans were asked to kill and be killed, but were not allowed to succeed.
When Kerry got back, he lashed out, not just at the politicians who sent him there, but, at his fellow servicemen by calling them all war criminals. On April 22, 1971, before the United States Senate, John Kerry accused his fellow veterans of war crimes. He claimed that they had “raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war, and the normal and particular ravaging that is done by the applied bombing of this country.”
It seems that, at the very least, those who were slandered by John Kerry should be permitted to call him a liar without themselves being savaged.
For the most part, the mainstream press has ignored veterans who have come forth to tell a story that contradicts Kerry’s, and have chosen instead to devote their full attention to veterans handpicked by Kerry to extol his virtues.
The press has dutifully reported every tale that Kerry has chosen to tell about himself. But, they have largely ignored the fact that the Swift Boat Veterans have already forced Kerry to admit that two of his favorite stories about himself were apocryphal at best. John Kerry was not in Cambodia on a secret mission as he claimed that he was, and John Kerry was the only boat commander who fled the scene after one of the swift boats he was patrolling with struck a mine. Kerry has always maintained that all boats fled, and that it was he who returned to rescue crewmen and Marines from the disabled boat. He now admits that only he ran. Does that matter to anyone? It should, according to Kerry’s own standards.
These two critical historical revisions from John Kerry should inspire a little skeptical inquiry by the press regarding the remainder of Kerry’s tales. But so far, it is only the Swift Boat Veterans who are experiencing media examination. Rather than examine the man who would be president, the press prefers to circle the wagons around him.
And it’s not out of respect for his status as a veteran. They sure didn’t protect the first president Bush from Democrats who accused him of cowardice for failing to rescue his crewman when their plane was shot down by the Japanese over the Pacific Ocean.
As yet, the worst that the press has managed to learn about the Swift Boat Veterans is that Republicans have contributed a couple of hundred thousand dollars to their cause. How shocking! What are the chances that those who have donated tens of millions to anti-Bush organizations like Moveon.org were Democrats?
And so far, the Swift Boat Veterans have a better record of telling the truth than John Kerry does.