Friday, August 27, 2004
I am burned out on the whole Swift boat controversy, but VDH's column today hits many many high notes and is worth a thorough read.
On the conflicting Swift accounts:
Both sides may allege "lies" as veterans come forth and recede to
corroborate or refute some details of what John Kerry claims he did even as we
the public fail to appreciate that all sides may well be telling the truth as
they saw and now remember it. But the veracity of that battle is hopelessly
fragmented, and will remain an album of partial, blurry snapshots, wrinkled and
warped over nearly 35 years of faulty remembrance.
On the parallel story of GWB's National Guard service:
In addition, it was not all that easy a thing either for a young man like
George Bush to fly an obsolete jet with a record of mechanical problems. His
qualification as a jet pilot gave him no immunity from being called at any time
to combat duty in Vietnam. Indeed, sitting at the controls of an underpowered
F-102 with a host of mechanical peculiarities was not the same as fleeing to
Canada, burning a draft card, or harming the interests of soldiers in the field
by giving emotional aid to the enemy. And unlike a few prominent public figures,
George Bush never said he served in Vietnam when he did not.
On the anti-war Kerry:
Vietnam service in the 1970s and 1980s quite unfairly was an albatross
around veterans' collective necks, in part because of the previous statements of
John Kerry and others in the anti-war movement who offered a sort of moral
equivalence between the United States and the North Vietnamese.
Indeed, one of the striking things about watching the old Dick
Cavett-hosted debate between John Kerry and John O'Neill is how naïve the young,
articulate Yalie sounds about the probable consequences of a unilateral American
withdrawal. He seems to have had not a clue about the true nature of a
totalitarian Communist regime with a past and future record of mass murder,
gulags, refugees, and political re-education camps. And his suggestion of
providing a deadline for withdrawal from Vietnam sounded as naïve then as it
does now in promises to leave Iraq within a scheduled time frame.
And in conclusion:
It is time to drop the mess and leave it at this: A veteran John Kerry, who
easily could have been blown up on numerous occasions, came home mixed up and
said and did things he probably now regrets, which over the last three decades
have provided both rich political capital for him and ammunition for his enemies
depending on the ever-changing perception of Vietnam in the popular memory of
a given decade.
For my part, I am not tired of the Swiftees. I understand the problems associated with the fog of war and that the 30-plus years between now and then could affect memories. However, it is hard to discount the fact that over 200 Swiftees are vehemently contradicting Kerry's stories while Kerry has managed to convince only a handful of Swiftees to corroborate them. Even if one conservatively conceded, due to the fog of war, that Kerry was truthful on the worst 50-percent of the stories, he is still not fit to be president.
And, I agree that Hanson is a master of the history of war and a great read.
Your point is well taken and I essentially agree with it. Kerry's fitness for the presidency is another matter entirely, and one I chose not address in my original post. Under most circumstances, I would dismiss the whole thing as water under the bridge (as I might be tempted to dismiss a certain popular figure's membership in the Keating Five), and would be happy to scrutinize other aspects of Kerry's record, which are arguably more relevent to fitness.
But hey, Kerry chose the topic, so let's examine him in that light.