August 28, 2004

A LOT OF PEOPLE EMAILED ME about irregularities in John Kerry’s citations, including the fact that his Silver Star citation was signed by John Lehman, who wasn’t Navy Secretary until the Reagan Administration. I put it down to some sort of paperwork mixup (I didn’t even link this piece when everyone was sending it to me).

But now the Chicago Sun-Times’ Thomas Lipscomb, who had an article on those records yesterday, has another article out today, quoting Lehman as saying that the whole thing’s a “total mystery” to him. (“It is a total mystery to me. I never saw it. I never signed it. I never approved it. And the additional language it contains was not written by me.”)

I think it’s far too early to speculate, as some readers are, that this is a case of fraud or forgery, and it’s entirely possible that there’s an innocent explanation, but I’m glad that someone with Big Media resources is looking into it. It’s puzzling that Kerry hasn’t simply released all his military records to clear up these questions. Nonetheless, I continue to regard the medals issue as a distraction, though perhaps a better-founded one, on closer examination, than I had originally thought.

UPDATE: Reader Andrew Lloyd emails:

When I got a law school transcript reissued to me a couple of years ago, it was certified by someone who wasn’t the registrar when I was there. That doesn’t mean I didn’t graduate in 1997 because someone else signed it in 2002.

I don’t know Navy process, but Kerry may have asked for a new certification in the 1980′s, and Lehman’s signature may have ended up on it as a matter of course.

See, that’s what I thought initially. But the language of the citation also changed, suggesting that it’s not a simple clerical thing. What’s more the “V” on the silver star doesn’t exist. You’d certainly be suspicious of a transcript with a different signature and different grades. Or of a Yale Law School transcript from recent years that showed an A+ average (Since Yale doesn’t have those letter grades). . . To the extent that analogy applies, anyway.

UPDATE: Ed Morrissey:

Just when I think this story may lose momentum, it just grows new legs. The Torricelli option continues to beckon the Democrats the longer Kerry refuses to release all the records and put an end to all the speculation.

Meanwhile, ABC’s The Note is looking to the future:

The new joke in Washington — told by all gallows, quasi-panicked Democrats — goes like this:

“John Kerry read in The Note that this was his race to lose, and he’s giving it his best shot.”

Someday, Karl Rove’s precocious grandchildren will say to him, “Grandpapa, what’s it like to run a presidential campaign against an opponent who has had his own background thoroughly researched well before the general election; who is broadly personable and possessed of great campaign skills; and who projects an image of constancy?”

To which Grandpapa Rove will reply, “I haven’t the slightest idea.”

(Via Power Line.) Somehow, though, “Grandpa Rove” makes me think of Grandpa Munster, but they’re in different parties.

MORE: This John Kerry timeline may be useful in keeping track of what happened — or didn’t happen — when.

More observations here, making me wonder if Kerry didn’t order duplicates and get “crosstalk” between the Bronze and Silver Star citations.

STILL MORE: Meanwhile, Matt Rustler is looking into questions about Bush’s medals. Bush had medals? Well, that’s the question. No clear answer yet, but we do learn that Mark Kleiman is now getting his stuff from Democratic Underground, which is informative in itself. And certainly Rustler’s inquiry is more searching than anything the left side of the blogosphere — including Kleiman — engaged in when the Kerry / Cambodia story was appearing.