Roger L. Simon

The Braggart Soldier

capitano crop.GIFCapitano or “The Braggart Soldier” is one of the stock figures of ridicule in commedia dell ‘arte. (I had to memorize them, alas, when John Kerry and I were at Yale.) Actually this figure goes back to Roman times, as does much of commedia, to Plautus and “the swaggering soldier.” So there is nothing particularly new about Kerry in the history of military braggadocio, but it is unique, I imagine, that such a man is running for President of the United States. Do I exaggerate? Well, you decide. Apparently, Mr. Kerry did tell the US Senate he had fought in Cambodia, after all:

Mr. President, I remember Christmas of 1968 sitting on a gunboat in Cambodia. I remember what it was like to be shot at by Vietnamese and Khmer Rouge and Cambodians, and have the President of the United States telling the American people that I was not there; the troops were not in Cambodia.
I have that memory which is seared-seared-in me, that says to me, before we send another generation into harm’s way we have a responsibility in the U.S. Senate to go the last step, to make the best effort possible in order to avoid that kind of conflict.

Seared into you, Capitano? Let’s hope you weren’t tooting your own horn a bit…

UPDATE: Well, apparently you were, Capitano mio, at least according to this footnoted excerpt from a letter from the Swift Boat veteran’s attorneys. It was sent to the Station Managers at television stations that had previously received the letter from Kerry forces threatening to sue the stations if they ran their anti-Kerry ad:

C. Christmas In Cambodia

The story is a total preposterous fabrication by Kerry. Exhibit 8 is an affidavit by the Commander of the Swift boats in Vietnam, Admiral Roy Hoffmann, stating that Kerry’s claim to be in Cambodia for Christmas Eve and Christmas of 1968 is a total lie. If necessary, similar affidavits are available from the entire chain of command. In reality, Kerry was at Sa Dec — easily locatable on any map more than fifty miles from Cambodia. Kerry himself inadvertently admits that he was in Sa Dec for Christmas Eve and Christmas and not in Cambodia, as he had stated for so many years on the Senate Floor, in the newspapers, and elsewhere. Exhibit 27, Tour, pp. 213-219. Sa Dec is hardly “close” to the Cambodian border. In reality, far from being ordered secretly to Cambodia, Kerry spent a pleasant night at Sa Dec with “visions of sugar plums” dancing in his head. Exhibit 27, p. 219. At Sa Dec where the Swift boat patrol area ended, there were many miles of other boats (PBR’s) leading to the Cambodian border. There were also gunboats on the border to prevent any crossing. If Kerry tried to get through, he would have been arrested. Obviously, Kerry has hardly been honest about his service in Vietnam.

For the entire letter, see Captain’s Quarters.