It is probably coincidence, but we wonder if the Kerry camp is engaging in a bit of pre-emptive news management. The NY Times delivers an interesting Week in Review piece, "Swift Boats and the Lessons of Dukakis".
"He'll often thrash around in the night," the filmmaker George Butler, who is one of Kerry's oldest friends, told me. "He smashed up a lamp in my house in New Hampshire, in the bedroom where he was staying. Most Vietnam veterans go through this." [Emph. added]
Yikes! And are the flashbacks worse at night or in the day, Senator? ...
OK, I had some fun, too. But recently Glenn linked to an American Thinker article that raised the stakes considerably. Their gist - there is evidence that Kerry suffers, or suffered, from a significant sleep disorder; according to a doctor they quote, "'We treat patients with medication, psychotherapy, CBT, acupuncture or a mixture of them all."
The American Thinkers point out, rather forcefully, that Kerry has not released his medical records, and ask this:
Is Kerry getting medical and or psychological treatment including drugs or counseling for parasomnia or any other sleep disorder? If he is not getting therapy for it now, did he ever get therapy for it in the past - and if so what kind of therapy?
I'm with Mickey on this - Yikes!.
Kerry was asked about this by the WaPo in 2002 and more recently by Tim Russert this April, so the question is certainly in bounds and in play. However, in each case, Kerry managed to deflect the point of the question. Here he is with Russert:
MR. RUSSERT: Your wife said recently--a few years ago--that you had bad nightmares, which were very frightening, about Vietnam. Do you still have nightmares?
SEN. KERRY: No, I don't. I don't, but I did for a period of time. You know, movement or sounds might jostle you into a kind of awareness. I don't know a lot of people who were in combat who haven't had them, but, no, I don't anymore, I'm glad to say. I don't even have nightmares about George Bush and this election, Tim.
Russert moved on, so there was no follow-up about therapy or medication.
But is this question going to fade back into the shadows? Or should we look forward to a calm, non-partisan discussion of sleep disorders sometime in September on Crossfire? Perhaps Lanny Davis and James Carville can explain to us that their candidate acts sedated because he is sedated, but that is a good thing. Yikes, again.
Anyway, a hint as to how Dems might attempt to close off this line of inquiry is revealed in the NY Times piece:
One damaging rumor, that Mr. Dukakis had undergone psychiatric treatment, was pushed onto the front page when President Ronald Reagan was asked about it and joked that he didn't want to pick on "an invalid." Mr. Dukakis's advisers said later that he dropped 8 points in the polls after that report.
The campaign held a news conference with the candidate's doctor and released his medical records, all knocking down the story, but Ms. Estrich recalls, "The problem with rumors is the more you answer them, the more play they get."
Ahh! We can hear the Kerry spokesperson now - "Anyone who asks these questions is simply participating in a Republican dirty trick, just like the one Bush's dad pulled in 1988! We deplore these shameless, baseless attacks, and refuse to release the medical records on principle!"
Hey, it might work. Or, it may not matter. But I suspect we will find out.
MORE: Oh, you want to get nasty, do you? You're thinking that maybe Cambodia was "seared" into Kerry's memory because he is a bit foggy from the downers, is that it? You don't think Kerry is lying about the infamous Kansas City meeting of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, with his baffling explanation that "[he] must have been in Kansas City for the November meeting" but "he had "no personal recollection" of the contentious debate" - you think he was too spaced out from his meds to remember it.
Well, you are a cog in the lying, crooked Republican attack machine.
Kerry now often proudly tells audiences how he survived cancer and how ordinary Americans deserve the type of high-end insurance he, as a senator, benefited from during the operation.
Kerry's Dec 14, 2003 speech would provide an example, if it had not been moved off of his website - the excerpt is here.
And my point - based on Kerry's tax return, he had $9,000 in unreimbursed medical and dental expenses. Just what sort of health coverage is the Senate offering, and what sort of coverage might be enjoyed by folks who are not married to billionaires? If Kerry wants to extend the plan covering him to the rest of us, he ought to show us why he got stuck with $9,000 in bills. Release the records.
THE GQ UPDATE: GQ asks the tall, well dressed chap about Vietnam and nightmares:
GQ: Did you come back from Nam with any psychic damage? JK: I was very lucky, Mike. I think I was able to take that pain and put it out there in my efforts to end the war. And so I very publicly laid out my depth of opposition to what was happening and my feelings about what had happened over there in a way that, you know, a lot of guys didn't have that opportunity, or couldn't or didn't, and they kind of held it in. And I think that's the harder thing; that's the problem for a lot of guys. So I never did have any of those issues. It doesn't slow me down; it motivates me.
GQ: You've never seen a therapist? JK: No. I had some nightmares when I came home, which is not unusual.
When he "came home"? Check with Teresa.
STILL MORE: Wishful thinking begets wishful reporting at the Times:
[The Dukakis campaign] was a searing experience, which helped forge the rapid-response Clinton campaign of 1992 - and helps explain the Kerry campaign's furious reaction to the attacks of a group of Swift boat veterans. The memory "really added to the decision-making on how to engage these kinds of scurrilous attacks," said Tad Devine, a senior adviser to Mr. Kerry and a Dukakis veteran. Mr. Dukakis himself said, in an interview, "This time, having learned from '88, nobody is going to sit around and let it happen."
Huh? Was it only last week that Adam Nagourney had an article about Kerry's response to the Swift Vets titled "Kerry Might Pay Price for Failing to Strike Back Quickly"? Did it not inform us that:
"The question now is whether [Kerry's] response came in time.
Mr. Kerry's aides said the candidate's decision to confront the questions had undercut the accusations and put the White House on the defensive by forcing Mr. Bush's political aides to deny that he had orchestrated the attack.
Still, more than a few Democrats expressed surprise on Friday that a campaign that has made such a point of presenting itself as aggressive and fast-footed had let this story go on unattended for so long.