Monday, September 06, 2004

Can't stop talking Vietnam just yet

The New York Times reports Bill Clinton gave John Kerry some election advice: stop talking about Vietnam. This would have been great advice some months ago, but it's too late now. Kerry cannot ignore the Swift Boat Vets any longer, he must answer their allegations.

It's even worse than that. The first wound, if self-inflicted as his campaign now admits may be the case, should not have resulted in a Purple Heart award, since there was therefore no enemy fire-- no actual combat. If so, then he did not qualify for the "three and out" rule. This in turn lends credence to the allegation he was a "ticket puncher" and fully intended in advance to take advantage of that rule to leave Vietnam early.

And when that domino falls over, he is no longer the hero that did a tour of duty, only to have that service interrupted by combat wounds. No, any officer who fakes wounds and leaves his troops in battle simply to avoid actual personal injury would be a coward. Kerry now must prove he was not a coward.

And the Silver Star citation issue, where it was presumably signed by John Lehman, as Secretary of the Navy many years after the fact, and Lehman denying he even knew about the citation. How is it possible a Secretary of the Navy would be asked to endorse a Silver Star citation rewritten for (or by?) a then-sitting United States senator, and that Navy Secretary not know about it? Lehman strikes me as a serious, credible man. Are Kerry and MoveOn.org going to attack John Lehman as a liar, a right-wing conspirator?

Moreover, these two credibility issues don't come from the Swifties at all, rather from his hagiography and his campaign site respectively.

These and the issues that are indeed raised by the Swifties won't go away-- they have a life of their own now. He must come clean and discuss the facts. Even his own biographer seems to be distancing himself from Kerry, suggesting Kerry needs to release his military records.

By making Vietnam the centerpiece of his entire campaign, Kerry has invited this upon himself. He has nobody to blame but himself. And he can't stop talking about it until he comes up with real answers to some very real questions.

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