Monday, September 20, 2004

Why Voters Need to Know

I have posted it over and over. kerry made a huge error in judgement when he decided to try and use his Vietnam service as the centerpiece of his presidential campaign. Who ever advised him on that, just about sealed the election for President Bush. - Sailor

New York Post Editorial

September 20, 2004 -- From the moment John Kerry made his military service in Vietnam a pillar of his presidential bid, the Massachusetts senator opened himself to questions about it.
Indeed, that history — his military decorations on the battlefield, followed by his strident anti-war activism — has been the rationale for Kerry's entire political career.

Over the years, most people have accepted his account of those exploits at face value. But now that Kerry stands as a candidate for president — a goal he reportedly set for himself decades ago — it's time for a closer look.

In the opposite columns, three Weblog authors, John Hinderaker, Scott Johnson and Edward Morrissey, who led the way in exposing CBS' Memogate scandal have summarized the most serious questions that have been raised, and that linger even despite a finding Friday by a Navy investigator that Kerry won his awards through proper procedures:

* For nearly 20 years, Kerry claimed that he spent Christmas 1968 in Cambodia on a "special mission." This experience, he has said, "is seared — seared — in my memory." Indeed, he's said it was his personal knowledge that President Nixon was lying when he denied U.S. forces were in Cambodia that made him lose faith in government.

Except that according to his own Vietnam journal, Kerry was 50 miles from Cambodia that day — which, incidentally, was a month before Richard Nixon even took office. Moreover, Swift boats, which he commanded, — weren't used for secret missions in Cambodia.

Kerry's campaign now says he misremembered the date of the border crossing — which may well have been "inadvertent."

* Kerry won his first Purple Heart for a combat engagement that took place at least a week before his own journal says he first faced enemy fire. Yet his campaign said the medal was for a "combat-related injury."

The campaign now concedes the wound may have been self-inflicted, suffered when he exploded a grenade too close to shore.

* Kerry has been accompanied on the campaign trail by David Alston, who has testified to the candidate's leadership under fire by citing two engagements in which they served together. But records indicate that Alston was not present during the second episode.

* Over the years, Kerry has been given three separate citations for the engagement in which he was awarded the Silver Star. That's unusual enough — but in each, the story of what happened keeps getting more grand.

And there are other questions, beyond those covered here — like Kerry's apparent wartime meeting in Paris with North Vietnamese.

WHY does all this matter? Why, when America is engaged in a global war against terrorism, should voters care about what happened 30-plus years ago?

First of all, because John Kerry says it matters — and made it key to his presidential bid.

Second, because his heroism supposedly justifies his venomous denunciations of U.S. soldiers as war criminals and murderers — speeches to which captured POWs in Hanoi were forced to listen.

That's an argument with which we suspect most people (rightly) disagree. But if Kerry's own record is open to question, then his '70s-era attacks on American soldiers become that much more malicious.

Meanwhile, he refuses to release all of his records, which could clear up many questions.

John Kerry has made what he did during the Vietnam War — both there and here — the touchstone of his credibility as a presidential candidate. It's time for the voters to understand that record — but to do so, they need to know the entire story.

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