Roger L. Simon

Don't Go for the Gold

Those who have been following the Kerry/Swift Boat controversy on this blog know that I agree with Glenn and am not especially concerned with the medals argument. It’s not that I don’t think the Swifties are right. In the end, I just think it’s an unwinnable argument. To put it in a context many of us have been watching of late, the medals controversy is not like the 100-meter butterfly where there is (usually) one discernible winner. It is like the 10-meter dive where there are too many judges handing out conflicting and biased 6.7s, 7.2s, etc. (at least the East Germans are gone!).

The crux of this discussion is what it reveals of the character of a man aspiring to be President of the United States who used his Vietnam service as the basis of his campaign. Two problems have been revealed.

1. Kerry’s so far unexplained braggadocio about being under fire in Cambodia (based on several assertions, including one on the Senate floor) is highly disturbing because it indicates either a liar or someone out of touch with reality.

2. His willingness to testify before Congress on behalf of the Winter Soldiers, likening his former comrades to “Ghengis Khan” without seeming to question whether his sources (those same Winter Soldiers) had gone off the deep end (boy, had they ever!)raises significant questions about Kerry’s ambitiousness, values and loyalty. Speaking personally on that one, I was completely anti-war at that time, but thought the Winter Soldiers were nuts (to put it bluntly). And I wasn’t the only one on the anti-war side who felt that way. I can assure you.

UPDATE: Mickey K. is predicting “a big Sunday paper** pro-Kerry eyewitness hit (on the Silver Star incident–that’s the one with the beached boat and the fleeing VC)” — the double stars, I take it, are from the Chicago Trib. To me that is all spin, whatever it is, and a perfect example of why the medal issue is beside the point. No one can prove whether someone really deserved a medal under fire thirty-five years ago or whether he didn’t. That is subjective in the end. Who cares? [Don’t you have a framed Academy Award nomination on the wall of your office?–ed. Yes, and I’m just showing off, still am by mentioning it.]

What is genuinely important is that Kerry appears (at least so far)to have lied on the floor of the Senate during a foreign policy debate. He also repeated that self-congratulatory lie (Cambodia) on several other occasions. It is also important that he hugely over-stated the supposed war crimes of his comrades in front of Congress. He can have all the medals he wants. Il Capitano always has.

UPDATE: Mathew Continetti appears to strike the right balance so far.