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Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Caasandra at I love Jet Noise

This is a very good post from Casaandra at I love Jet Noise I will post the whole thing. Another reason I would not ever vote for Kerry.

August 24, 2004

Tired of Vietnam?

I have a confession to make: I’m sick and tired of hearing about Vietnam. But not for the reasons you might think.

Growing up, I watched my country being torn apart by an unpopular war. As a young girl, I heard body counts on the evening news. I watched riots erupt on the streets. In Newport, Rhode Island my neighbor’s son was drafted, left for ‘Nam, and came home in a body bag. I saw his father change from a quiet, kind man into a bitter, angry person who yelled at the neighborhood kids and threatened to shoot my dog.

In the fourth grade, I learned not to mention that my Dad was in the Navy after my teacher called me a little liar and launched into an anti-war diatribe one day in class.

Oh yes, I remember Vietnam.

But unlike the media, who gush endlessly over John Kerry’s medals but gloss over the hateful words he spoke on the Senate floor in 1971, I don’t think the painful memories of that conflict should be exploited to satisfy one man’s ambition.

And that is precisely what John Kerry is doing. With their enthusiastic and willing help.

My father taught me that real heroes don’t need to brag. Why is it then that Mr. Kerry feels the need to remind us – constantly - that he served in Vietnam? Why does the media pick up and repeat pompous statements like this?

“"More than 30 years ago, I learned an important lesson - when you're under attack, the best thing to do is turn your boat into the attacker, and that's what I intend to do today," he said, noting that he still carries shrapnel in his leg from the wounds that led to one of the Purple Hearts.

It is supremely ironic that Kerry accuses the Bush campaign of re-opening the wounds of Vietnam, because it is Senator Kerry who made that conflict the centerpiece of his presidential campaign. This is a classic sucker-punch move: Kerry constantly reminds voters that he served while allowing DNC officials and a plethora of Democratic-funded 527s to question George Bush’s National Guard service.

As campaign strategy, it is nothing short of Machiavellian. The Bush campaign can't respond in kind without being accused of “refighting the war”. It doesn’t take a genius to see that Republicans cannot mention Vietnam without reviving Terry McAuliffe's unfounded AWOL smear. Of course, Mr. McAuliffe’s accusations aren’t the least bit suspect on account of their being partisan: the unbiased media reserves that accusation for veterans who served a complete tour of duty in the combat zone.

If anyone has reopened the wounds of Vietnam, it is Senator Kerry. Kerry supporters wonder why the Swift Vets waited until now to come forward. The answer to this is so obvious I’m amazed anyone would ask: the Swift Vets came forward shortly after Super Tuesday when it became apparent Mr. Kerry would be the Democratic nominee. Why should they come forward sooner?

Just as Clinton supporters sought to reframe his impeachment hearings as being about adultery rather than perjury and obstruction of justice (offenses for which he was later disbarred), the media are trying to reframe this debate as being about medals and questioning Kerry’s service. They are dead wrong.

The truth is, I don’t really care whether John Kerry deserved his medals. Plenty of men got medals who didn’t deserve them, and we will never know the truth of what happened over thirty years ago.

I don’t care if John Kerry was in Cambodia on Christmas Eve, or whether David Alston was on his boat for 7 days, or 13, or 6 weeks. I don’t much care whether there was return fire on December 2nd when John Kerry received his first Purple Heart, or whether his ‘wound’ was a scratch or a gaping hole the size of a Casaba melon. I don’t care that John Kerry and Jim Rassmann can’t agree with each other (or even with their own published accounts) about which boat Mr. Rassmann was on the day he was pulled from the river. None of these things matter.

This is not about what John Kerry did back then.

It is about what John Kerry is saying right now. And about what he said on April 22, 1971 in the Winter Soldier investigation. What matters is that he was lying then. He has lied for over thirty years. And he is still lying today. And that should matter to everyone. This is something voters need to know. Because honesty matters. His lies hurt good and honorable men who fought and bled and died for a cause that the majority of them still to this day believe was worth fighting for (even if John Kerry does not).

In 1971, John Kerry testified in front of the Senate that his band of brothers had committed atrocities against innocent Vietnamese:

"They told stories at times they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires with portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan.".
He testified that these crimes were "not isolated incidents" but were "committed on a day-to-day basis".
He testified that atrocities were committed with the "full awareness of officers at all levels of command".

Although a subsequent investigation revealed that Kerry’s ‘highly decorated veterans’ were frauds who refused to repeat their testimony under oath even when promised immunity, Kerry has never corrected the record or retracted his false statements. If his testimony was based on personal knowledge, he should say so and stand by it. If it was based solely on the testimony of men who were shown to be frauds, an honorable man would repudiate it. Kerry has done neither.

On Meet the Press, Kerry said that he, himself, committed war crimes.

"There are all kinds of atrocities, and I would have to say that, yes, yes, I committed the same kind of atrocities as thousands of other soldiers have committed in that I took part in shootings in free fire zones. I conducted harassment and interdiction fire. I used 50 calibre machine guns, which we were granted and ordered to use, which were our only weapon against people. I took part in search and destroy missions, in the burning of villages."
The future presidential candidate added:
"All of this is contrary to the laws of warfare, all of this is contrary to the Geneva Conventions and all of this is ordered as a matter of written established policy by the government of the United States from the top down."

On the Dick Cavett Show Kerry said that he never witnessed any atrocities. If they were committed on a “day-to-day” basis with “full knowledge of the command”, how is it that Mr. Kerry spent four and half months in Vietnam without ever witnessing any?

He has said Communism was never a danger to South Vietnam. When we withdrew from South Vietnam, thousands of Vietnamese were massacred by the Communists and a wave of boat people fled the country. How many Little Saigons are there in the US and Canada today? What were the Boat People fleeing from, if not from the Communists John Kerry met with in Paris while still a commissioned officer the Naval Reserve? If Communism was “never a danger”, how does Mr. Kerry explain the millions murdered under Joseph Stalin and Pol Pot?

When I got my first AA degree, one of my classmates was a young Vietnamese man whose parents handed a newborn infant to total strangers on a boat as it pulled away from the dock in Saigon. That young man was never reunited with his mother and father – they were taken away one night by John Kerry’s “harmless” Communists. His aunts and uncles never saw them again. They never found out what happened.

John Kerry was wrong about Communism then. He is wrong about Iraq now, when you can pin him down at all. And there are very real consequences, to very real people, to being wrong on issues of this magnitude. But the reason I have focused on his war record is not because it matters: it doesn’t. He is not running for Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

It is because he is running on his war record. And because he continues to lie about what he himself insists is his main qualification for office – several times, on the record, over the last thirty years. And because, having mocked Marines and the Iwo Jima memorial in his book The New Soldier, having met with the enemy during wartime while a commissioned Naval officer, and having grievously slandered and insulted his fellow veterans during his Winter Soldier testimony, I don’t believe he should be allowed to exploit the pain he caused for his own selfish gain.

Am I tired of hearing about Vietnam? You bet.

But the men who fought there - who completed one or more tours of duty there - are even more tired. If they are willing to continue the fight, how can we let them down? How can we face those names on the Wall, knowing we were too absorbed in our daily routines to clear their names of the vile calumny heaped upon them by a self-serving politician?

They fought and died for us. Some days I wonder why.

- Cassandra

August 24, 2004 at 10:08 AM | Permalink

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