Wednesday, August 18, 2004
John Kerry and Vietnam: I haven't made much mention of the developments of the last week-plus when it comes to Sen. John Kerry's service half a world away more than three decades ago.
I blame John Kerry for making his Vietnam service the centerpiece of his campaign for president, rather than his nearly two decades in the Senate and his plans for the future.
I received an e-mail last week from a reader who urged me to turn my journalistic training on the conflicting stories of Kerry's service in the public record. The reader pointed me to the fine work done over at Captain's Quarters, which I had been following. A look into the Instapundit archives will identify numerous other bloggers who have been doing similarly good investigative reporting and analysis.
From all of that reading, I believe...
That John Kerry wasn't in Cambodia on Christmas 1968. [His campaign has acknowledged that this is true, but maintains he did go into Cambodia at other times.]
That Richard Nixon wasn't president of the United States on Dec. 25, 1968.
John Kerry embellished his war record, specifically his alleged forays into Cambodia, as part of an effort to attack Republicans. [Kerry used his Cambodia "experience" as a club against then-President Ronald Reagan on the subject of funding the Nicaraguan Contras.]
I believe that John Kerry never entered Cambodia on covert missions to insert CIA agents or Navy SEALS.
John Kerry has used his Vietnam experience as a shield to block scrutiny of his dovish Senate record.
As to whether or not Kerry deserved his purple hearts or his bronze star or silver star -- I think that the jury is still out on that.
What you're seeing being done in the blogosphere on John Kerry is some solid analysis and good questions that mainstream reporters should be using as background material for questioning of Kerry and his "band of brothers."
I've said before that I don't think this entire issue is good for the Republicans -- even if it were somehow conclusively proven (and I don't think it ever can be) that Kerry is a fraud and a serial teller of tall tales. The Bush campaign is wise to stay as far away from this as humanly possible.
However, the press shouldn't have any qualms about investigating these charges. More than 200 men who served alongside Kerry in Vietnam are making some pretty serious charges -- and they aren't making them anonymously.
The media had far less evidence when they followed Michael Moore's and Terry McAuliffe's suggestion that President Bush was a "deserter" and went "AWOL." The press went after the story like a pack of rabid dogs, even though there was plenty of prima facie evidence that there was no there there.
Now, it appears, as though the major media are willing to accept the Kerry account without question. I was amazed that "Fox News Watch's" Jane Hull so cavalierly accused the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth of "probably lying" last weekend. She provided no evidence to back up that assertion, but that appears to be the default state of the major media. The best defense of Kerry thus far was done by the Annenberg Center's Factcheck.org, but I found their analysis to be less-than-impressive.
The blogosphere is doing an admirable job discovering the inconsistencies in Kerry's various accounts of his four-plus months in Vietnam. What the blogosphere can't do, however, is sit John Kerry down, present him with the inconsistencies and attempt to get straight answers from him -- the mainstream media can and should.
Thus far, the media has been derelict in their duties to the American people.