February 25th, 2008

Orwell, anybody? “Swiftboating” the Swiftboaters

It isn’t often you get to watch a lie become entrenched truth.

Or maybe it is often, if you pay enough attention. Once it’s repeated enough, and by the right people, it becomes the revealed truth, and there’s almost no way to counter it effectively, as Winston Churchill knew.

Goebbels’ “truth” about the number of casualties at Dresden has been believed for so long it’s hard to shake no matter what new evidence comes to light. Jenin was a massacre perpetrated by the Israelis on the Palestinians, and Mohammed al Dura was killed by Israeli soldiers. Vietnam veterans are disproportionately depressed, poor, psychotic, drug-taking messes. All of these are untrue “truths” that have passed into the public domain.

Similarly, the term “swiftboating” quickly entered into mainstream usage as meaning “to unfairly attack in order to serve political ends.” John Kerry, the recipient of the original Swift Vets’ attack, uses the term this way, but he is certainly not the only one to invoke the word in righteous indignation. Candidate Obama also made use of the reference—although admittedly it was in response to a journalist’s question during an appearance on “60 Minutes:”

Asked by Kroft if he will be able to endure attacks from “swift-boating” Republicans who may use his race or his youthful drug use against him, Obama replies, “Whoever wins this Democratic primary…they’re the toughest, baddest candidate on the block”…[T]he senator from Illinois vowed not to use such tactics himself to beat Hillary Clinton.

As the Washington Post notes, “swiftboating” has become a synonym for “a political low blow.” And of course, in the eyes of the MSM, it tends to be the province of those nefarious Republicans.

Forget about whether the charges are actually true or not; that’s a minor quibble, hardly worthy of consideration. After all, “facts are the enemy of truth,” don’t you know?

So that means that the NY Times can attack likely Republican Presidential nominee John McCain with “facts” that barely rise to the level of good gossip, and Dan Rather can use forged documents to smear George Bush on the eve of the 2004 election, and the rest of the MSM and the Democrats somehow can’t find it in their hearts to use the term “swiftboating” for their fellow Dems, especially when it’s Republicans being attacked.

This is the case even if—as happened recently with the Times—the actions of these MSM icons are condemned even by their own side (if you can find an example of someone on the left/liberal end of things using the term “swiftboating” to describe the Times or Rather, please send me a link; I haven’t been able to find one). It seems to be reserved for anyone who might attack a Democrat.

I closely followed the Swift Vets’ story in 2004. I read their book, and found it compelling. I waited for the evidence in it—presented in very lawyerly fashion, since some of them are lawyers—to be countered.

But I never saw any of it effectively debunked other than a few unimportant details, although I looked and looked (I actually wanted the charges to be untrue, because at the time I thought John Kerry was going to be our next President, and the prospect would have been far less sobering if the book could have been invalidated).

And so I read almost everything that was written to counter it, and the counter-evidence was so flimsy I became convinced that it wasn’t countered because it couldn’t be countered. And early on in the controversy one of the main tools of the counterattack to the Swift Vets’ accusations was to smear the accusatory Vets themselves.

This, of course, was not considered “swiftboating;” the term hadn’t quite jelled yet. I watched as the legends about the Swift Vets grew: they were Republican operatives all; they were liars, despite being decorated heroes themselves. Kerry lost because he was just too nice a guy to fight back (Kerry himself is a big one for promulgating this particular theme).

John Kerry is now an Obama supporter. Here’s an email he wrote in January of 2008 on the subject; it’s full of Kerry’s characteristic “poor pitiful principled me who lost the election because of lies and because I wasn’t mean enough” routine. It deserves to be read in full, but here are some excerpts (emphases mine]:

I support Barack Obama because he doesn’t seek to perfect the politics of Swiftboating — he seeks to end it.

…As a veteran, it disgusts me that the Swift Boats we loved while we were in uniform on the Mekong Delta have been rendered, in Karl Rove’s twisted politics, an ugly verb meaning to lie [sic] about someone’s character just to win an election….we must stop the Swiftboating, stop the push-polling, stop the front groups, and stop the email chain smears….We must be determined never again to lose any election to a lie [sic].

Some of you may have heard about the disgusting lies about Barack Obama that are being circulated by email. These attacks smear Barack’s Christian faith and deep patriotism, and they distort his record of more than two decades of public service. They are nothing short of “Swiftboat” style anonymous [sic: the Swift Vets were anything but anonymous] attacks.

These are the same tactics the right [sic] has used again and again, and as we’ve learned, these attacks, no matter how bogus [sic], can spread and take root if they go unchecked.

I’m relieved to hear that there’s a new book dedicated to undoing the “swiftboating” of the Swift Vets—that is, the “swiftboating” directed, in Orwellian fashion, against them. The book is titled To Set the Record Straight, writeen by Scott Swett and Tim Ziegler. Here’s a review:

Time and again the book shows how major media either misrepresented the group’s claims, coordinated with the Kerry campaign, or went to extraordinary lengths (unsuccessfully) to discredit the group.

Back in 2004, I tried to get some of my Kerry-supporting friends to read Unfit for Command, just to see for themselves what all the fuss was about. To their credit, three of them did. Two of those people subsequently refused to vote for Kerry; and one voted for him anyway despite believing the charges in the book. But the vast majority of my friends simply refused to read it at all—they didn’t want to know what was actually in it; the MSM told them all they needed to know.

I’m glad someone has done this work to try to rehabilitate the Swift Vets themselves. But I’m not overly optimistic about its chances of reaching the very people who should be reading it. After all, “a mind is a difficult thing to change“—especially when it refuses to expose itself to information that might counter its entrenched beliefs.

45 Responses to “Orwell, anybody? “Swiftboating” the Swiftboaters”

  1. Ike Says:

    Go check out a book called “The Story Factor” by Annette Simmons. She outlines the processes we all go through, defending the stories we hold so dear. Such a story cannot be dislodged by facts – but rather by a more powerful story.

  2. gcotharn Says:

    The Swiftboaters revelations occurred during the early days of my own blog. As a blogger, I was sort of a newborn giraffe, trying to stand up and begin running. I exhaustively studied, and blogged about, the details of each of the Swiftboaters’ allegations. I enjoyed it b/c it was like delving into a mystery: what would we find? Truth, or lies? From the Swiftboaters, we found truth, truth, truth, truth, truth. John Kerry is a joke. I’m still waiting for him to step forward and collect Boone Pickens’ million dollars for charity.

  3. Bugs Says:

    When I was young, I asked my Dad what he did in Vietnam. “Dropped bombs on little yellow people,” he replied. Didn’t really change my feelings about him since I knew that when he came home he was still a good Dad.

    Honest to Jesus, I don’t really care what JFK did in Vietnam – I care about what he did after he came home.

  4. gcotharn Says:

    Here’s what James Lileks said at the time, in August of 2004:

    Vets v Kerry- Media’s Waterloo
    There are two tales here: the story, and how the story will be played in the dinosaur old media. [...] This is not about Vietnam. This is about character, and this is about spin. Over the next week there’s going to be a lot of discussion in newsrooms about what this story means, and how the mainstream media’s handling of the charges will affect their image. They can tear the story down to the foundation and root for the truth, or they can hide behind he-said-they-said reportage. It’s their Waterloo. We’ll see.

  5. expat Says:

    Swiftboating = telling truth to power
    Swiftboating = raising questions about issues that could easily be resolved by releasing relevant records
    Swiftboating = questioning the truthfulness of a potential president of the US

    Sounds pretty honorable to me

  6. driver Says:

    I agree completely that it is unfair to allow the term “swiftboat” to take on a negative connotation. I touched on this subject about a month ago, and there are some related links there you might find worth following….including (via the Anchoress) the “swiftboating” of George H.W. Bush, true war hero, back before we used that term. Yep, it was the Clintons who invented “swiftboating.” Way back in ’92.
    http://www.amusedcynic.com/?p=604

  7. Is John Kerry up for another Purple Heart? at Amused Cynic Says:

    [...] Speaking of the ol’ Swiftboater, see Neo-neocon’s commentary here, and my own [...]

  8. J. Peden Says:

    It’s perhaps [not] surprising that the Prog foot soldiers don’t see that they are being propagandized by their very own Prog meme-generators, especially when what the foot soldiers say they fear the most is being controlled.

    But if you have no control over, or derived from, your own mind to begin with, fear of being controlled becomes more of an editorial statement about, or manifestation of, your own very basic lack of control or grounding itself, rather than relating to anything else, imo.

    So why bother checking out for yourself the validity of anything else at all? Actually, the question of possibly doing that almost cannot even arise.

  9. Terrye Says:

    My biggest problem with Kerry was what he said and did here in the United States. I remember that time, I remember him sitting there in front of the Senate running his mouth. I was amazed that he actually believed he had the right to be Commander in Chief after he made those claims.

    As for the term swiftboating, it has become another political symbol, like waving the bloody shirt or kissing the baby. It just part of the myth and language of American politics.

  10. Tom Says:

    We have precedents to making “swiftboating” a negative. “Discriminating” was a positive (discerning) until the ’60s; “Gay” used to mean something quite different; and what about “McCarthyism”?

    Hmmm…The Dems were primary with the hatching of all of these. Any others out there?

  11. Darius Garsys Says:

    Heh. I remember checking out all the claims as far as I could.

    I remember going through the (vastly incomplete) fitreps released by Kerry – and from 12 years in teh Navy, the term “damned by faint praise” applies. If those were the best endorsements and evaluations he could get….

    Finally, the lie he was forced to retract about the memory “seared” into his brain about listening to Nixon in Cambodia…

    Combined with his actions immediately post Vietnam, the man was a shiftless snake, a backbiter, a kneebiter, and a backstabbing liar.

    SIDE NOTE: People (Like Nader today) like to refer to the “illegal” Iraq war. I could understand immoral, or even wrong-headed (though I would disagree). Illegal? Please, let’s stop with the dramatics and histrionics and stop making our language mean whatever we want it to…

  12. I hope they didn't forget their American Flag lapels! | Prose Before Hos Says:

    [...] Obama’s Patriotism, Beer Monday: Is Obamessiah Patriotic?, Swift Boat-Playground Style, Orwell, anybody? “Swiftboating” the Swiftboaters, Barack Hussein Obama, WRONG for America…, Hillary Responders Play Flag Games While Obama Focuses [...]

  13. douglas Says:

    “Bugs Says:
    February 25th, 2008 at 2:28 pm

    When I was young, I asked my Dad what he did in Vietnam. “Dropped bombs on little yellow people,” he replied. Didn’t really change my feelings about him since I knew that when he came home he was still a good Dad.

    Honest to Jesus, I don’t really care what JFK did in Vietnam – I care about what he did after he came home.

    Did you feel that the charges of GWB’s NG service being less than honorable were also irrelevant?

    I don’t understand your reaction to your fathers comment at all. It sounds like he was explaining that to you when you were 8 by the sound of it.
    It also seems a perfectly accurate description of the job performed by bomber crews in Vietnam, and no dishonor inherent in it. It seems accurate (though quaint) to describe our enemies there as ‘little yellow people’, but certainly they were (except perhaps the occasional Soviet ‘advisor’).

    So your point was…?

  14. DuMaurier-Smith Says:

    “Honest to Jesus, I don’t really care what JFK did in Vietnam – I care about what he did after he came home.” Since you say “Honest to Jesus,” you obviously realize how incredible (and discrediting of you) your statements are; so I, for one. think we should believe you.

  15. s graham Says:

    You will not read a more important book than the new one,”To Set The Record Straight”.I could not put it down although I thought I knew what had happened.
    These men are heroes and the MSM is revealed once again to be the shills that we know them to be.
    Read it.

  16. harry McHitlerburtonstein the Extremist Says:

    This is all so deeply rooted. You will never get beyond the legitimacy of the 2000 elections, never mind anything subsequent to that.

    What we’re talking here is much more serious than placing polar bears on the threatened species list to maintain a part of a global climate hoax, they put Scooter Libby in jail over a lie.

    This is going to come to ahead sometime in the near future. With the press, academia and probably soon the entire government with the power to enforce willful insanity, its going to get pretty ugly around here.

  17. harry McHitlerburtonstein the Extremist Says:

    Man, I shoukld have made that clear.

    They put Scooter Libby in jail over their lie.

    There was no conspiracy to “out” Plame, and they knew it when they procecuted Libby.

  18. ELC Says:

    Over at Michelle Malkin’s blog, “Swiftboating” is defined as “Telling the truth about Democrats”. That sounds about right to me.

    And since so many others are seeing fit to comment on JFK, here’s something I blogged, 4/26/2004: “What a piece of work this man is. During one stage of his public life, he used his service in the war — and the medals he supposedly had been awarded — as bragging rights to protest the war at the very same time he threw away those medals to win bragging rights as an anti-war activist. But he only pretended to throw away his medals; he actually threw away part of his medals (the ribbons associated with the actual medals) and then the medals of two other soldiers — one of them from World War II! During another stage of his public life, he went back to bragging about his service in the war, trying to glide over his years of anti-American, pro-Communism agitprop… er… excuse me… his years of anti-war activism, proudly displaying the very medals he had formerly been proud to have supposedly thrown away. What a freaking piece of work.”

  19. Gringo Says:

    My take on JFKerry’s time in Vietnam is as follows. 1) He got Purple Hearts etc. for wounds that were more trivial than I got while playing sandlot football and soccer. 2) By leaving after only 4 months, and getting such medals for which the wounds were trivial, he was gaming the system. Which is OK; nearly all of us who were draft age during that time did so in one form or another. But if you are gaming the system, don’t go on about how you served and others were getting away with gaming the system. Don’t play holier than thou.

    I also did not like how he wore his service record on his sleeve. People I knew who had been in Vietnam or WW2 or Korea did not toot their horns about their service. I include a Tuskegee Airman, father of a long-time friend, who while he was justifiably proud of what he did, never tooted his own horn. JFKerry did.

    It was also a contradiction to do the “Reporting for Duty” stuff at the convention, when 2 decades before he had compared US troops to Genghis Khan. You can’t simultaneously call US soldiers war criminals and do that “Reporting for Duty” shtick, without people noticing the contracidtion.

  20. Gringo Says:

    correction:
    contracidtion change to “contradiction”

  21. Cake Says:

    Isn’t this really just a matter of creating our own term and REALLY infuriating the libs?

    I prefer to think of McCain being sullied by the NYT as “Rathering”. You know, fake but accurate and all that.

    Feel free to use it but send me a nickel for any time you do.

  22. gcotharn Says:

    You want to have your nickel and be cake too.

  23. Ymarsakar Says:

    Often people mean the exact opposite of what they are stating.

    When Al Gore, for example, speaks about how he intends to save the environment and help conserve resources, what he really means is that he intends to destroy the environment in order to create justifications for political programs while consuming as many resources as needed for those political programs.

    When members of Al Qaeda say that they will bring justice and strength with Sharia, what they really mean is that they have perfected the ultimate system of injustice and weakness.

    In a way, John Kerry was swiftboated in the eyes of the Left both because John Kerry was attacked for things he actually did and because attacking John Kerry for things he did is unfair and swiftboating: an unfair and misleading attack.

    It is misleading and a deception on the part of the Swiftboat group to allege that John Kerry’s character is based on his actual actions in Vietnam and out of Vietnam. We all know that what really matters is the fact that Kerry was a killbot trained to massacre women and children, by the US Navy, but was able to overcome this conditioning through willpower and the material that makes Presidents.

    As Code Pink says, don’t join the Marines since they’ll just teach you how to kill babies without a flicker in your conscience, cause your conscience will have been gone. So when Kerry ordered massacres on civilians in boats and personally hunted down unarmed targets, that’s not something we should hold against him given the historical fact of US atrocities. Kerry gets kudos for speaking truth to power and exposing the reality of American atrocities.

    Does it really matter if Kerry joined the Navy in order to acquire political benefits through ordering and observing massacres? No, it doesn’t. None of that matters to Democrats when it comes time to decide on who the US President will be.

    John Kerry is a war hero and nothing the Swiftboaters can say or do will change any of that. For the only way to become a hero in the child murdering and civilian butchering US military is to… butcher many civilians and admit that you have seen and done such things to the world. That is what makes a real war hero, ladies and gentlemen.

  24. harry McHitlerburtonstein the Extremist Says:

    Cake:
    “I prefer to think of McCain being sullied by the NYT as “Rathering”. You know, fake but accurate and all that.
    Feel free to use it but send me a nickel for any time you do.”

    Oooh!! Me like! I will remember this line and its creator. Although the dimes might have to be deferred.

  25. Eric Chen Says:

    Reactions:

    Humble veterans. I don’t mind when veterans are open about their military histories. I encourage it. I just care that they’re real histories. Much of why many veterans are silent about their military histories isn’t out of intrinsic humility about their service but because, as with any esoteric field of knowledge, it’s awkward to talk about things with people who don’t understand. I’ve found that to be the case even as a peace-time veteran, and it’s more the case with war veterans. When veterans get together? Believe me, the stories come out.

    I encourage veterans to be open about their service because I was a campus military advocate in college who was sensitive to the civil-military gap. I believe veterans should take it upon themselves to build a greater presence and profile in our society, so that, one, our extended military community has a greater role in mainstream culture and infuses more military-related values into general civil society, and two, so veterans’ hard-earned honor and their years given to service can be meaningfully transferred as a competitive advantage in the civilian world. As it stands, many veterans earn their honor with years of sacrifice for the greater good of country and people, only to find out that they’ve lost those years as prime career-building time in the civilian world. Veterans deserve better, and to make it better, they have to compete for it just like any other identity-based special interest in our society.

    “little yellow people”: that can be taken two ways – reducing our fear of a competent enemy – which our opponents in Vietnam certainly were – with a slur, like ‘Kraut’. Or, as some characterize our role in the Vietnam War, we were the oppressor of innocent powerless folks – which I find to be the more disrespectful and insulting view of our opponents in the Vietnam War.

    Swiftboat. I didn’t read the books, but I knew the Swiftboat campaign in 2004 was legitimate in its own right because veterans denouncing John Kerry for his ‘Winter Soldier’ actions against the Vietnam War have been known in the military community for decades. I heard about it before I served, learned to appreciate the context while I was a soldier, and learned a lot more about the history after I came home from the Army and spent most of one Saturday in summer 2001 reading through an anti-Kerry veterans website. Kerry and the Dems brought the swiftboating upon themselves in 2004. When his status as a war veteran was made a leading theme in the 2004 Presidential campaign, he may as well have placed his long-standing critics on centerstage himself. Doing so was a remarkably obtuse decision on the part of the Kerry campaign.

  26. Trimegistus Says:

    Of course liberals lie and distort. It’s all about perception and emotion with them. Reality doesn’t exist. So for a liberal the truth is what you can be made to believe. They want “swiftboating” to mean an underhanded political tactic, so that’s what it means as far as they’re concerned. Saying “that’s not true” is a non sequitur.

  27. md Says:

    You are shameless Neo, with your “mind is a difficult thing to change.” Day after day you talk to your agreeing audience here– someone who disagrees is a “troll”. “Swiftboating” has entered the terminology for a good reason. In war many things happen very quickly, and there are as many different opinions as there are observers. Kerry’s later testimony to congress about the war was resented by many veterans, but was also appreciated by some. Read Colonel Hackworth’s book about his service in Korea and Vietnam. He was a soldier’s soldier, but would come to agree with much of Kerry’s testimony. I believe this testimony played a role in the “truth” the Swiftboat veterans were telling. There are stories by other veterans that differ. The galling thing, however, is that Keryy, and Gore for that matter, actually served in Vietnam– and for this they are traduced by those who did not serve.

  28. nyomythus Says:

    My wife watches CNN and it’s stunning to see how moderate and opposition voices are almost non-existence. And how Jack Cafferty reads viewer e-mails as if they were the opinions of Political Scientist and Foreign Policy experts, creative aphorism and witless solipsism rule of the day.

  29. nyomythus Says:

    It’s part of a lowbrow elitism that will soon manifest as a rising voter block for Nader … cool!

  30. Sergey Says:

    Political history as known to scholars is always different from its popular, garden variety, more akin to mythology. This is due to mythologizing power of mass consciousness which fits and molds every perception to preconceived formes and shapes taken from a rather limited repertoire. A good part of this deformation job is done by the mass media, inevitably oriented in their work on these known or expected perceptions.

  31. Vince P Says:

    All of a sudden Leftists care about military service.

    Does anyone buy this?

  32. nyomythus Says:

    Vince P, only when they shoot their officers.

  33. Eric Chen Says:

    md,

    “The galling thing, however, is that Keryy . . . actually served in Vietnam– and for this they are traduced by those who did not serve.”

    That’s where you lose your argument, md. It was effective precisely because Kerry’s critics in the Swift Vets and POWs for Truth are legitimate. They weren’t a false slander formulated during the 2004 campaign by “those who did not serve” (Rove? Cheney?); rather they were a long-standing movement. In fact, at the time I served, before the 2004 Presidential campaign, the military community in the folk-lore sense had an institutional memory about John Kerry’s betrayal, because there was still an institutional memory of the pain of the Vietnam War defeat.

    Even when he became the presidential nominee, Kerry could have avoided the flak if his military credentials hadn’t been made a cornerstone, even center-piece, of his campaign to become a war-time President. With that action, the reaction didn’t need to be formulated because it was already there, had been there for decades.

    My opinion is that I don’t like to see Kerry’s military service belittled, especially by those who have not served. Whatever ambition that may have pushed him to go to war, the time he did over there was real. But, does that render Kerry immune to criticism? Well, Benedict Arnold was a far more accomplished, respected, and decorated soldier than Kerry.

    You can certainly contextualize the Swift boat vets’ criticism of Kerry when defending him, but it’s wrong to say they falsely slandered Kerry or imply they were a 3rd-party creation by non-veterans.

  34. md Says:

    Eric, you have a point, but within the constraints of such a forum–that is, any blog–it is trying to others to go on overlong with one’s opinion.

    I’m just saying that this issue, as so many others, is not simply black and white. I know this is old news, but for instance, see the link below for another veteran’s take on Kerry. I know that this in no way negates what other’s have said…but I still think belittling the military service of another is not an honorable thing.

    http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110005460

  35. Thomas Says:

    It’s just one example Neo. So much of our political culture has been written / rewritten by these people in similar means.

    Goldberg’s book Liberal Fascism (bad title, but ironic when you know where it came from) is a similar story or trying to dig out from the Orwellian propaganda… and dealt with via the same means as the Swiftboat vets (ignore, smear, repeat old story until it keeps hold).

  36. N. O'Brain Says:

    The conservative definition of swiftboating: telling the truth about a Democratic politician.

    The leftist definition of swiftboating: telling the truth about a Democratic politician.

  37. OBloodyhell Says:

    > After all, “a mind is a difficult thing to change“

    I believe the Dem/Lib version of this is a couple words shorter and one word different:
    “A mind is a terrible thing.”

  38. The Thunder Run Says:

    Web Reconnaissance for 02/26/2008…

    A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day…so check back often….

  39. Jimmy J. Says:

    As one who served in Vietnam, I can say that there were many medals awarded that were not deserved, many not awarded that were deserved, and many combinations of the foregoing. A few in the military see combat ops as a stepping stone to bigger things. Ambitious warriors always kind of made me nervous. Tehir forte seemed to be to rush in and attempt some vanity raising operation that made little operational sense. The Swift Boat veterans noticed the ambition and vanity of JFK while they served with him. Some of them resented it and some it made nervous.

    However, had JFK tried to use his service in helping the U.S. to win the war in Vietnam, I doubt any of them would have spoken up when he ran for President. He may have been a glory hound and been awarded some medals he didn’t deserve, but that is not what won him the enmity of his fellow sailors. It was his use of his position as a Vietnam vet to attack his country and his shipmates, which drove their attitude. It certainly drove mine and I didn’t even know who he was until he started testifying before Congress.

    What particularly angered me was his consorting with the enemy in Paris while he was still a commisioned Officer in the Navy Reserves. Anyone with any sense of honor would at least have resigned his commision before committing such treacherous acts.

    He has still not released his Naval records in full and Boone Pickens is still waiting to see them. I think that speaks volumes.

  40. Bugs Says:

    To the two incoherent idiots who replied to my previous comment:

    GWB’s NG record is sterling as far as I’m concerned. If you’ll recall, no one has produced reliable documentation proving that Bush’s activities in the ANG were anything but typical. And if merely serving in the ANG stateside rather than in Vietnam was dishonorable, then thousands of other veterans from that era are also dishonored.

    Regarding my old man and John Kerry: My old man was being honest about what he did in the war. Cynical, maybe, but honest. And you know what? I’ve read all of his aviator’s logbooks from that period, and it’s true: he dropped a lot of bombs on a lot of little yellow people. We have yet to see logbooks or any other service documentation from JFK. I believe the clock is still running on that.

    Kerry’s postwar activities are documented all too well. He was a disgrace back then, and he still is. My old man, on the other hand, raised a family, and retired after thirty years of honorable service. He didn’t brag about it or tell stupid war stories; he just did his duty.

    For what it’s worth, I haven’t seen any documentation proving that Jesus was in Vietnam, either. Maybe he was stationed in Germany…

  41. harry McHitlerburtonstein the Extremist Says:

    For what it’s worth, I haven’t seen any documentation proving that Jesus was in Vietnam, either. Maybe he was stationed in Germany…

    Coleman barracks, if memory serves.

  42. Synova Says:

    “By leaving after only 4 months, and getting such medals for which the wounds were trivial, he was gaming the system. Which is OK; nearly all of us who were draft age during that time did so in one form or another. But if you are gaming the system, don’t go on about how you served and others were getting away with gaming the system. Don’t play holier than thou.”

    A point I’ve made often enough. Kerry was a self-promoter and we’ve all served with people like that. And it’s not a problem. But don’t pretend that’s not what it is. If you do your job, no one cares, even if it’s annoying from time to time.

    And no one would fault him for getting out of Vietnam on a technicality, either. Except that he was presenting himself as a willing warrior.

    “As one who served in Vietnam, I can say that there were many medals awarded that were not deserved, many not awarded that were deserved, and many combinations of the foregoing.”

    Absolutely. And it makes a huge difference if you’ve got commanders who believe in putting their people in for any possible medal or if you’ve got one that is on a one-person crusade to stop the habit of giving medals to anyone who isn’t superman.

    I’ve got a medal. The citation is pure fiction. Do I think I deserved it? Yes, probably. Do I understand the process? Yes. Someone sat down with a list and made check marks after names… Achievement, Commendation, etc., And then they (or someone else) wrote up a crap load of citations that supported those judgments and submitted them. (Not war time but after the mass evacuation of Clark and Subic Bay, so the element of disorder may be similar.)

    The idea that medals or citations are writ by the finger of G-d is silly.

    Veterans understand this. Their criticisms about Kerry were not about this. A purple heart is important for what it represents but everyone understands that not all purple hearts are equal. It doesn’t *matter* if Kerry should have gotten them or not. What matters is that he didn’t spend a day in the hospital.

    I’ll give an example that might help to explain it. I *have* a Desert Storm ribbon. This is a fact. Were I to present that ribbon as important, however, would be entirely out of line. Because I was never there. All Desert Storm ribbons are not created equal. I got mine by being “forward deployed” at Clark. Now that was no picnic either, and the hazardous duty pay was nice, but I would be misrepresenting myself if I claimed that I was involved in Desert Storm. I wasn’t.

    I watched the video interviews on the Swiftboat Vets for Truth website and they refused to say anything but that Kerry was brave and that being assigned a Swift Boat was dangerous. It was what it was.

    And it wasn’t what it wasn’t. And charges that his “war hero” status was a mite overwrought were simply *true*. And nothing about his ordinary four months of being stationed in Vietnam in any way excused his activities afterward.

    It’s interesting that his defenders focus so incredibly sharply on a single medal… was it won under fire?.. and utterly ignore the bulk of the Swiftboat charges. Because there is no “smear” with the rest of what is absolutely public record, often with video of Kerry saying what he is “accused” of saying.

  43. douglas Says:

    Bugs, sorry you are so irritated. If I had a clue what your point was in your first post, I guess I’d be more “coherent”.

    From your recent reply, I guess the point (already addressed) is that Kerry made it an issue by centering his campaign around his service, whether you cared or not.

    Have a nice day :)

  44. Trimegistus Says:

    MD: I agree that belittling other people’s military service is not nice.

    Of course, Kerry did that very thing repeatedly, even during the Vietnam War. And his supporters in the last election were awfully hot to criticize Bush’s service, to the point of fabricating evidence. I never heard of Kerry calling them dishonorable for doing so.

    When Kerry and his supporters get that great big beam out of their collective eye, they can start complaining about the mote in the Swiftboat vets’ eyes.

  45. Eric Chen Says:

    An irony is that if the Dems really wanted a President with warrior cred, they had GEN Clark running. I was a volunteer on his campaign until he dropped out when Kerry swept the primaries.

    Bugs: “He didn’t brag about it or tell stupid war stories …”

    Again, “stupid war stories” are different for different audiences. For those of us who’ve worn the uniform, that stuff is history and heritage, sometimes tragic, sometimes legend, that defines what means to be a soldier.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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