Monday, August 30, 2004
John Kerry and the anti-war left: If you have never read John Kerry's testimony to the Senate foreign relations committee, then you should. If you've seen the most recent Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ad, then you've heard some of what John Kerry had to say more than three decades ago about his larger "band of brothers."
I would like to talk, representing all those veterans, and say that several months ago in Detroit, we had an investigation at which over 150 honorably discharged and many very highly decorated veterans testified to war crimes committed in Southeast Asia, not isolated incidents but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command.
They told the stories at times they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, tape 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 country side of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war, and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country.
John Kerry's decision to slander the men who served in Vietnam for his own political gain and what that says about his character is a legitimate subject of debate as America chooses who will be its next commander in chief.
My knowledge of the Vietnam era certainly doesn't match that of people who were in their teens and twenties as the war was being fought. The majority of my knowledge comes from history books and, to a lesser extent, movies.
I watched "We Were Soldiers" again yesterday, to get a sense of Vietnam. I've also read the book by Harold Moore and Joseph Galloway (the movie only covers one-half of the book, which includes several more days of the larger battle). Perhaps the most telling moment of the Mel Gibson movie was a simple shot near the end where one soldier pushes another soldier in a wheelchair, his head wrapped in bandages, down the concourse of an airport. A woman, with her children, grabs the youngest and pulls her away from the soldiers -- much as one would react to a drunken wino walking down a dark alley.
What does it say about an America that treats its men in uniform that way? What does it say about John Kerry that that is the America he helped to create?
Some commentators have talked about John Kerry's service in Vietnam and contrasted that with George W. Bush. In a time of war, John Kerry's service, they say, gives him a credibilty with the military that George W. Bush doesn't have.
Though Bush didn't serve in Vietnam, the commentators who espouse the aforementioned view have miscalculated. President Bush has the respect of the armed forces because he respects their service and he respects them.
Despite his four months in Vietnam, Kerry is really another Bill Clinton. Clinton dodged the draft, protested against the U.S. overseas and his disdain for the military was well known. Members of the military recounted being sneered at by young Democrat staffers in the Clinton White House.
What Kerry did to the Vietnam veterans, to the poison American public opinion against people in the military who have made sacrifices -- including giving up their own lives, was worse than anything Bill Clinton ever did.
That the media and the Democratic Party didn't see the impact that a John Kerry candidacy would have on middle America is more evidence of how out of touch with reality they both are.
Much was made of how, during the Democratic Convention, nary a mention was made of President Bush. But there was something else that wasn't mentioned either -- there was no praise for the men and women fighting terrorism overseas. No thanks to those who have given their lives to bring freedom and democracy to Afghanistan and Iraq.
Democrats were thinking that they had nominated a war hero. They forgot that their war hero was, 30 years ago, one of those hate-America wackos who are marching in the streets of New York.