Roger L. Simon

The Blowhard's Lieutenant

I’m getting mighty sick of this subject… Kerry in Cambodia (or not)… and the idea that a man could base a Presidential Campaign in 2004 around four months’ participation in the Vietnam War in 1968, no matter what he did, is absurd and pathetic… maybe we should call it the Boar War (or rather the Bore War)… but this latest salvo from sometime Kerry supporter Michael Kranish in The Boston Globe deserves some comment.

Now I had never heard of Kranish before this dustup began. So I have no knowledge of the journalist’s previous work or reputation, nor any opinion of his introduction (if any) to Kerry’s campaign bio, a genre of literature I find slightly less inspiring than supermarket giveaways (it contains no stamps). But if this article is the best Kranish can do in the support of Kerry, the Senator is in deeper trouble on the issue than I thought. Capitalisation alert: KERRY’S DEFENSE CONTAINS ABSOLUTELY NO FACTS, ONLY ASSERTIONS. [I thought you swore off capitalisation on your blog.-ed. I also swore off camembert too.] But it seems, not too far from the surface, that Kranish is actually reputation salvaging here (his), not Kerry excusing, distancing himself from the statements of the Senator’s supporters, which he carefully encloses in quotes.

Carrying the water in this article… and in the world… for the Senator on this matter is longtime Kerry associate Michael Meehan found here in the aptly-named Disinfopedia. This is the man whose recent response to attacks on Kerry is “no longer found” — not a hopeful state of affairs. In Kranish’s piece, Mr. Meehan tells us:

“During John Kerry’s service in Vietnam, many times he was on or near the Cambodian border and on one occasion crossed into Cambodia at the request of members of a special operations group operating out of Ha Tien,” Kerry spokesman Michael Meehan said in a statement. The statement did not say when the cross-border mission took place.

No mention of “Christmas in Cambodia” yet. But Meehan’s wooden nose keeps growing:

“On December 24, 1968, Lieutenant John Kerry and his crew were on patrol in the watery borders between Vietnam and Cambodia deep in enemy territory. In the early afternoon, Kerry’s boat, PCF-44, was at Sa Dec and then headed north to the Cambodian border. There, Kerry and his crew along with two other boats were ambushed, taking fire from both sides of the river, and after the firefight were fired upon again. Later that evening during their night patrol they came under friendly fire.”

Oh, really? We could call this Meehan’s Pirandello Defense… “It Is So If You Think So.” Kranish’s article goes on, however:

James Wasser, who accompanied Kerry on that mission aboard patrol boat No. 44 and who supports Kerry’s candidacy, said that while he believes they were “very, very close” to Cambodia, he did not think they entered Cambodia on that mission. Yet he added: “It is very hard to tell. There are no signs.”

Another crewmate who said he was with Kerry on Christmas Eve, Steven Gardner — who is a member of the veterans group opposing Kerry’s candidacy — said Kerry was 50 miles from Cambodia at the time. He accused Kerry of lying about being in Cambodia or by the border. “Never happened,” Gardner said.

Separately, according to Meehan’s statement, Kerry crossed into Cambodia on a covert mission to drop off special operations forces. In an interview, Meehan said there was no paperwork for such missions and he could not supply a date. That makes it hard to ascertain or confirm what happened. Kerry served on two swift boats, the No. 44 in December 1968 and January 1969, and the No. 94, from February to March 1969.

No paperwork? No date? I’m shocked. Frankly, this is embarrassing. Why don’t we admit the truth – Kerry Lied – and move on? He won’t be the first politician to pad his resumé, even if it is in phony blood.

The New York Times still has no report on this controversy, branding it, I suppose, as peripheral. Instapundit’s Dad, a Democrat, takes it more seriously, seeing in what I call Kerry’s “braggart soldier“-like behavior the roots of more dangerous LBJ-like military overcompensation. Who knows? But what I do know is the most risible aspect of today’s Boston Globe article is its headline: “Kerry Disputes Allegations on Cambodia.” Talk about desperation in the copy editing department! It should have read: “Kerry Hack Offers No Facts!” or some such.

UPDATE: Donald Sensing reports that Sen. Tom Harkin, who recently attacked VP Cheney as a coward, trumps Kerry in the whopper department: Harkin himself claimed to have battled Mig fighters over North Vietnam while a Navy pilot. He was a pilot, but never went to Vietnam.

If this is true, we’re back in the schoolyard with infant politicians. As Sensing accurately puts it:

When I was a kid I learned that the only kids who always talked tough were either bullies or were in reality just chicken. The real war heroes I have known hardly ever talked about it and certainly didn’t want to be heroic again.