Now it is the paper of record that cannot get its facts quite straight, so let's be clear - Senator Kerry is not Irish, and he was an officer in the Naval Reserve during his anti-war days from 1970 to 1972.
[August UPDATE - The Kerry campaign has finally admitted the point made below, but no corrections have appeared anywhere.]
David Halbfinger of the NY Times gets a Saturday front pager, providing a long piece about Kerry's anti-war days with the Vietnam Veterans Against The War. Mr. Halbfinger covers many highlights, discussing the "Winter Soldier" event, Kerry's controversial medal-toss, Kerry's trip to Paris where he met with a member of the North Vietnamese delgation, and the VVAW meeting that discussed the assasination of several US Senators (with ensuing row-back by the Kerry people); we are quite interested to see whether the Kerry critics feel that Mr. Halbfinger covered these topics adequately.
However, our current obsession is the dates of Kerry's military service. As we noted in an earlier post, the Kerry campaign has been saying that:
Kerry volunteered for the United States Navy after college and served from 1966 through 1970 rising to the rank of Lieutenant, Junior Grade. Afterwards, Kerry continued his military service in the United States Naval Reserves from 1972 through 1978.
So why is the paper of record getting these basic facts wrong, in an otherwise exhaustive story:
A few months later [in 1970], Mr. Kerry, freshly out of the service, ran in an antiwar caucus in Concord, Mass., that was convened to pick a primary challenger to a hawkish incumbent congressman....
Two weeks later, he married Julia Thorne, and on a trip to Europe with his new bride, Mr. Kerry, the 26-year-old ex-lieutenant took a taxicab from Paris to a suburban villa. The son of a diplomat, Mr. Kerry had managed to arrange a private meeting with North Vietnamese and Vietcong emissaries to the peace talks.
Does it change the story to say that Mr. Kerry, while still in the Naval Reserve, ran in an anti-war caucus?
Does it change the story to say that Mr. Kerry, the 26 year old Navy Lieutenant, had arranged a private meeting with North Vietnamese and Vietcong emissaries to the peace talks?
Maybe not much. But one might hope that both the Kerry campaign and the "All the News" folks would be able to report accurately the basic facts of Kerry's military service.
And we wonder why this confusion persists - we seem to be back to "Kerry never said he was Irish" with this one.
SECOND UPDATE: Let's bring the LA TImes to task, since they appear to be victims of the same misinformation. From their Friday, April 23 story, third paragraph:
"Mr. Kerry, please move your microphone," Sen. Stuart Symington (D-Mo.) prodded the 27-year-old former Navy lieutenant during a climactic appearance before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee [in April, 1971]. "You have a Silver Star, have you not?"
And further down in the story, they exhibit the same confusion as their NY counterparts:
By January 1970, Kerry had left the Navy to run as an antiwar congressional candidate in Boston. Outflanked by the sudden entry of peace activist the Rev. Robert Drinan, Kerry pulled out, canny enough to know his aspirations for office needed a base.
The war kept drawing him back. Newly married and on honeymoon in France, Kerry detoured from his vacation to meet with South and North Vietnamese delegates to the Paris peace talks. How a 26-year-old private citizen without a political track record connected with the negotiators is unclear.
Wrong twice - Kerry was a commissioned officer in the Naval Reserve (the same commission he held while in Vietnam, BTW - the difference was that he was no longer on active duty.)
BACK TO THE HEADWATERS: The intrepid Mickey Kaus takes us to the headwaters of the confusion. The Harvard Crimson famously interviewed John Kerry in February 1970, as he considered his first run for Congress. How many confused staffers could Kerry have had with him? How could the Crimson get this wrong, and why did Kerry let it stand uncorrected?
Now 26, he was honorably discharged from the Navy last month but has been laying the groundwork for the race ever since November.
We should add that Douglas Brinkley, in his "Tour of Duty" book, gets it wrong as well, stating that Kerry was honorably discharged on Jan 3, 1970 (see p. 338).
As best I can tell, the closest the Kery camp will be able to come to validating the claim will be this DD-214 and DD215. DD-214 shows an honorable discharge from Officer Candidate School in 1966, and a transfer to active status. It also shows a release from active duty and a transfer to Naval Reserves in Jan 1970. Maybe someone glancing at it quickly could get confused. However, checking these or others shed more light (computer crash coming, sorry):