Speaking to the New Hampshire Examiner as part of their "Meet The Candidates" series John Kerry promises to deal manfully and vigorously with the Swift Boat Veterans:
Asked if he dreads the prospect of being “Swift-Boated” all over again, Kerry counters that he would relish such a fight.
“I’m prepared to kick their ass from one end of America to the other,” he declares. “I am so confident of my abilities to address that and to demolish it and to even turn it into a positive.”
John O'Neill responded sensibly [and in this column]:
Kerry’s tough talk triggers laughter from John O’Neill, a fellow Vietnam veteran who helped found Swift Boat Veterans for the Truth and wrote a blistering 2004 book on Kerry, “Unfit for Command.”
“Well, he’s got eight times as much time to prepare for us as he spent in Vietnam,” says O’Neill, referring to Kerry’s short tour of duty.
Will John Kerry hold the Tough Guy pose until 2008? Please - John has as many personas to try on before the Iowa caucuses as Teresa has scarves.
Meanwhile, the last we heard on this topic was an absurd Times puffer by Kate Zernike. We cited a specific error here, and noted many other open questions about Kerry's Swift Boat service; perhaps he will take a break from his ass-kicking to clear up a few simple points:
(1) Will he ever, ever, pretty please sign a non-restricted 180 disclosure form so that John Q. Public can get access to his military record? Where we stand now is that Kerry has signed a 180 authorizing release only to some friendly media. What kind of ass-kicking is that? C'mon John, bring it on!
(2) Where oh where are Kerry's "War Notes", Kerry's diary and collection of letters which formed the basis for the Brinkley "Tour of Duty" book? I hope Kerry is not planning to kick our asses while keeping that secret - surely the press won't allow that sort of selective non-disclosure, will they?
If I could pick one issue on which to see some documentation it would be Kerry's first Purple Heart. Two of the Band of Brothers, Zaladonis and Runyon, back up Kerry's account of the incident, described by Runyon as tthe scariest night of his life. However, press accounts do not make this link until early 2004 (I recall a February story, but can link to an April one).
Yet oddly, Zaladonis said nothing about this to Douglas Brinkley when he was interviewed (repeatedly) for Brinkley's book back in (I presume) 2003. Zaladonis sailed on PCF-44, Kerry's first boat, just a few days later, yet he never mentioned his first encounter with Kerry, where Kerry had his first combat and earned his first medal. That is some odd memory by Zaladonis and quite a ghastly interview technique by Brinkley. (What did Brinkley ask, anyway - "Tell me about the second time you first met John Kerry? Do you remember any dramatic events other than ones that led to medals?).
Also oddly, Brinkley makes no reference whatsoever to Kerry's War Notes to recreate the night of Kerry's first combat and first Purple Heart. One might have thought Kerry would have jotted down a few thoughts, or maybe even mentioned who was with him that night.
Well. Presumably this will all come out in the ass-kicking.
I have no doubt that Kerry's remaining admirers thrill to his manly talk, but his only hope is that media such as the Times remain firmly in the tank for him. And that is not a bad strategy, since at this point, it may very well serve their interest to do so. For example, almost any Times follow-up on the Swift story would reveal Ms. Zernike to have prepared a flawed, uncorrected story, and would further reveal that the Times gave short shrift to a legitimate series of stories during the election campaign; better for the Times to continue to pretend this is a non-story.
My guess - the most logical explanation for Kerry's ongoing non-disclosure is that the facts are against him. Consequently he will try to deliver just enough that his cheerleaders in the media can pretend that the Swift Boat Veterans have been rebutted. However, the Times and others will not apply any investigatory muscle, in order to paper over their past non-coverage. "Nothing to see here, move on". Dot Org.
MORE: Look, the Times will never correct that old Zernike piece, and I wasted pixels writing to the public editor a while back, but... email@example.com