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August 05, 2004



Good god man why don't you devote your analytical ability to something more relevant, e.g. with all the perusing and culling of your wealth of resources could you explain what our current Iraqi policy is? I'm not even anti-Bush per se, I just honestly have no idea what the hell it is we are supposed to be, and are, doing over there?
See you after the election when such minutiae is consigned to its proiper sphere.


Well, if Kerry had devoted more time to his Iraq policy during his convntion speech, and less time 'reporting for duty", maybe my focus would be different.

Or, if I thought the matter of Bush's National Guard service was finito, I would have different priorities.

But this seems to be the subject Kerry wants to discuss.

Patrick R. Sullivan

I'm not sure "discuss" is the right word. The DNC is at this very moment attempting to suppress the versions of events offered by Lt. Kerry's colleagues in the Swift Boat fraternity.

And, has anyone ever heard of an EIGHT YEAR HITCH in the standby reserves (Kerry's enlistment contract called for him to get his discharge in 1972)?

J Mann

Tom, you are chasing red herrings. Can't you see that the real issue is:


After all, if it turns out that Kerry is "AWOL" or a "deserter," I'm sure Michael Moore will turn on him as fast as he turned on Bush . . .


Still awaiting that AP lawsuit against Kerry for the full military records...


Let's see, our current policy is to assist the Iraqi interim government to hold democratic elections, monitored by the UN, thereby aiding the process of standing up a civil and democratic society. We will provide security forces, and train new Iraqi security forces to the point where US "boots on the ground" are no longer required.

Now that wasn't hard, was it?

The history of Kerry's military service, and the parroting "volunteering" for the Navy is a bit of an overstatement considering he had received an induction notice from the Army, and his local draft board had turned down his request for a deferrment. If he had a yearning for service, why hadn't he been in NROTC, or already signed up with the reserves ensuring his trip through OCS, when he graduated. A rather disengenious use of the term "volunteer," IMO.

I think it is fair and reasonable to scrutinize Senator Kerry's service record, as it is he who celebrated his service at the convention, and it is on that basis he is staking his claim to be qualified to be COIC. His own characterization of his record is less than straightforward, in light of the history of veterans to downplay the role of one's service.

After the convention, John Kerry's four months of service in Vietnam are apparently the most famous four months of that conflict--and for what purpose? For the purpose of glossing over the past 20 years of nearly zero accomplishment (his campaign web site mentions only one--on the POW/MIA issue) in the Senate--a far more relevant period of his resume, than what he did as a 26 year old.


Thanks for the clarification Forbes. With our policy expressed thusly, I now see things are even worse than I thought.


Officers retain their commission until they resign it, whether they are an active reservist or inactive one.


Maybe those Vietcong guys are the "foreign leaders" he keeps referring to. Hey, they're old friends!


If any damage accrues to Sen. Kerry as a result of his activities in the 1960's and 1970's, the Dems only have themselves to blame. While most folks in the country don't want to pick at the scars that were the result of the Viet Nam era, is it really worth the risk politically to nominate a candidate that many would contend helped wound the nation (along with many others) in the first place?


When you're nearly">http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/040804/ids_photos_ts/r1590829396.jpg">nearly knocking over old ladies to grand-stand again about your military service, you're asking for criticism.



"Maybe those Vietcong guys are the "foreign leaders" he keeps referring to. Hey, they're old friends!"

It's not funny, but it is in a very strange way. There's supposed to be a memorial dedicated to John Kerry in Vietnam for all his help during the Vietnam War.

Anyone know if this is true and could provide a link? I know I saw a picture of this once.

what a crazy world.


Senator (and by the time, really truly ex-LT) Kerry's work in closing the files on VietNam era MIAs and POWs might be described as an "accomplishment".

But it's not like he and his team found any prisoners and brought them home. Or found any remains. Or uncovered new documentation.

In general, the "accomplishment" seems to be that whatever hopes POW/MIA supporters might have sustained were, at long last, quashed. Any documentation that confused or conflicted with the official story were dismissed or destroyed. And any impediments to "normal" relations with the communist government of Vietnam were finally removed.

Some of us hold more grudge than admiration for such "accomplishments" ...


ed - It's a bit premature for a "memorial" to Kerry anywhere. But I believe the story was that he was mentioned in a museum section on the American anti-war movement. (I could be wrong about that).



"ed - It's a bit premature for a "memorial" to Kerry anywhere. But I believe the story was that he was mentioned in a museum section on the American anti-war movement. (I could be wrong about that)."

Yes that's it! Sorry about the use of the word "memorial". It was rather late in the night and I couldn't come up with the proper word. From memory it was basically a plaque of Kerry and a number of North Vietnamese diplomats shaking hands and smiling for the camera. It might be a picture taken from Kerry's independent "peace talks" in Paris.


Maybe the assignment got dangerous all of a sudden:

"After a year in flight school, Bush spent five months learning how to fly an F-102 fighter-interceptor and then 22 months as a part-time pilot. He stopped flying in April 1972 -- 30 months before his formal commitment would normally have ended.

Nonetheless, the biography of Bush on the US State Department's website credits him with almost six years in the F-102's cockpit -- two years on active duty flying the plane and nearly four more years of part-time service as an F-102 pilot. The websites of at least five American embassies -- those in Germany, Italy, Pakistan, Vietnam, and South Korea -- use the identical language, even though Bush spent barely two years flying the airplane.

After the 2000 election, when evidence of Bush's abbreviated flying career and his propensity to miss required drills became public, the presidential biography written for the White House website made no mention of the period of Bush's service, only that he served as an F-102 pilot.

But the State Department biography of Bush, which has been on its website since 2001, makes the president out to be more of a frequent flyer than the embellished account in Bush's 1999 autobiography, "A Charge To Keep." In that book, Bush said he flew with his unit for "the next several years" after his five months of training on the F-102 concluded in June 1970.

Dan Bartlett, the White House communications director, asked yesterday about that language, said: "It does not reflect the facts of his service. It will be corrected."

Damning! Damn damning!


I'd find that all a lot more interesting if I thought Bush was going to make his National Guard service the centerpiece of his conventon and his campaign.

But since it is Kerry that thinks his four months in Vietnam is more important than his twenty years in the Senate, it seems appropriate to spend a bit of time pondering his service record.

I'd be happy to stop if he would.



"Maybe the assignment got dangerous all of a sudden:"

Maybe I don't care anymore.

You know. This could be really amusing. If everyone responded to an attack on Bush's NG record with:

"Who cares. The question is about Kerry."

It would drive some people absolutely nuts.

I like it! :)


When Kerry applied for a billet serving on a Swift Boat, it was a relatively safe assignment for a Naval combat unit during the Vietnam era, patrolling coastal waters. Kerry specifically gave that as a reason for requesting that duty, saying that he didn't want to be very involved in the war. As it turned out, soon after his assignment, the Swift Boats were ordered into the rivers for more action.

When Bush entered the Texas Air National Guard and flight school, it was a relatively risky assignment for a NG unit during the Vietnam era. The F-102 is a dangerous plane to fly - it has two to three times the crash rate of other contemporary fighters. The normal duty of Bush's TANG unit was border patrol which included confrontations with Soviet nuclear bombers that probed the US territorial limits during the cold war. Also, at the time that Bush enlisted in the TANG, his unit was rotating pilots to Vietnam. As it turned out, by the time he was trained on the F-102, that plane's role in the Vietnam conflict was being phased out and the Air Force had a surplus of pilots so GWB never got rotated. This surplus of pilots also explains some of the issues surrounding the end of GWB's NG service. As a F-102 pilot, he wasn't really needed anymore.

Both Bush and Kerry served our country during the Vietnam era. Perhaps an actuary can determine who was exposed to greater risk to life and limb - I can't.


I just wanted to point out one other item:

Per your post, the LA Times says...
"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."

Yet the NY Times says...
"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."

I know that the Viet Cong were operating in South 'Nam, but the LA Times leads you to believe that he was meeting with both sides, not the two operators on the opposing side.


I'd like to know exactly what you are implying. You point out some problems with dates and things like that, but you don't seem to have a point. Don't dance around what you want to say like a slimy little jerk: just come right out and say it.

Additionally, I have to wonder, for instance, why you don't think of the fact that these press releases and newspapers stories weren't all discussed and written by the same people. How many times have you heard different figures from different people about unemployment statistics and job losses? I've heard at least 7 different figures.


Ed and Crank:

Here's the photo link. It's from wintersoldier.com



Ed and Crank:

Here's the photo link. It's from wintersoldier.com


R C Dean

There's supposed to be a memorial dedicated to John Kerry in Vietnam for all his help during the Vietnam War.

There is - one of the swift boat groups has multiple photos commemorating this.

And he was a US officer at the time! Sweet. I guess he was opposed to the Communists before he was for them, or something.

Israel Espinoza

I'm a newcomer to reading blogs. I am impressed (mostly) by the incisive insights and comments. The commentary on Kerry's record has led me to this conclusion: I had 3 cousins that served in Vietnam. All served in combat units. None dodged, applied for a deferment, or had strings pulled on their behalf. Nor did they meet with the enemy. Nor is there any convenient film footage of their time in Vietnam. My cousins are heroes in my mind. Cinton, Kerry and Bush can't begin to compare to them.


John Moore at Useful Fools has been hammering this point for a couple months. There is an argument that Kerry is constitutionally prohibited from any federal office including the Senate by the 14th amendment, which provides in part:

No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President... who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States... to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.


When the issue of the "backdoor draft" came up recently, it was pointed out that when you are discharged from "active duty", you are put on "ready reserve" for some number of years.
Obviously, in Kerry's case, he was "ready reserve" for 8 years and there really never was a "gap", just a badly written media release.


"just a badly written media release"

Oh, that explains it. Does Kerry bear any responsibility at all for the fact that his own campaign couldn't get the basic facts of his military record straight? Or that no one has gotten this right in over thirty years?

Convenient misunderstandings follow this guy around - must be the luck of the Irish.

tom beta 2

"could you explain what our current Iraqi policy is?"

Well, he could, but he refuses to do so until he's elected president.


I come to notice that just like Woodward and Bernstein actively defend their title to "first reporters on the greatest American political scandal of all time", John McCain has appointed himself as the gatekeeper of all stories that involve the VietNam War (or conflict).
He "called an ad criticizing John Kerry's military service 'dishonest and dishonorable' and urged the White House on Thursday to condemn it as well."
First off, just how does he know it is dishonest ? As for the dishonorable part, there is enough dishonor to go around for all.
Secondly, just what does the White House have to do with this ad ? It's from one of the 527 organizations that slipped through the McCain-Feingold campaign reform legislation. The White House has nothing to do with this ad and shouldn't say anything about the ad (1st Admendment is for all, you know) unless it knows there is some untruth involved. Otherwise might indicate there is some sort of (illegal) connection to the organization which produced the ad (remember Kerry has no connection to MoveOn.org, Americans Coming Together, et al).
As far as I'm concerned McCain should butt out. His campaign reform helped make this mess, so until he (or someone better) fixes his mess, he should leave the 1st Admendment to flourish on it's own.

Bruce Moomaw

Regarding the clash between Thurlow and Rassmann over the Bronze Star Incident -- which, as Maguire remarks, resembles Rashomon (with both men flat-out calling each other liars before Judy Woodruff, and both of them apparently disagreeing with Brinkley's account), the obvious thing to do is to track down the skippers of the other three Swift Boats and find out what THEY say. According to Brinkley (if he's right), they were Rich Barker, Don Droz and Rich McCann.

Well, a 2-minute stroll through Google reveals that:

(1) Barker is an wildly enthusiastic supporter of Kerry. (See http://www.abclocal.go.com/kgo/news/politics/072804_politics_kerry_vet.html and http://www.al.com/news/mobileregister/index.ssf?/base/news/1090919792168000.xml , to name just two of dozens of entries.)

(2) Droz was killed in Vietnam -- but not before sending his widow a whole series admiring letters about Kerry (whose anti-war views he shared):

and not before (according to Brinkley's book) accompanying Kerry in his unsuccessful attempt to confront Captain Adrian Lonsdale about supposedly lousy, destructive orders by Adm. Hoffmann -- at which point, according to Kerry, Lonsdale told them he had no power to countermand those orders:

Again, there are literally dozens of Google entries about Droz and Kerry. What's especially interesting about this is that Lonsdale is now a member of SBVT on the grounds of Kerry's accusations of frequent US war crimes -- but nevertheless told "South Coast Today" in Nov. 1996: that he had known Kerry very well and that they had frequent political debates: "He was opposed to the war but it didn't make any difference in his performance...He was a very good officer."

(3) There's only one other Google entry on Rich McCann, and it's from another Kerry article Brinkley did for "Salon" this April ("Why Kerry Threw His Ribbons", cached on Google) in which he says: "Watching TV that evening was Rich McCann, who had traveled the Mekong Delta rivers with Kerry and was now a graduate student at George Washington University. 'When he threw those medals over the fence, I was pretty upset,' McCann recalled. 'I was grappling with a lot of issues myself. It was hard to accept that I had given a year of my life for a lost cause. In retrospect, however, what he did was right.' "

Now, the obvious next step is to (A) find out whether Brinkley's correct about the IDs of those three skippers, and then (B) to talk to McCann, Barker and Droz's widow (who kept her husband's handwritten letters). If Brinkley IS right about their identities, then it seems just a wee bit strange that none of them raised hell about Kerry's behavior during that incident.


Ok, good job. Bruce, are you getting yourself a blog?

My schedule today is a joke, but I want to move this comment into a post.



J Murphy

The Kerry campaign has an elastic definition of "serve." Kerry claims to have "served" in the Reserve. Having seen pictures of him during his anti-war protestor days, he was not attending any Reserve drills with that haircut. So, like I was at that time, he was probably "serving" in the Ready Reserves which carried NO obligation to do anything, although you were subject to call up in a national emergency.

However, according to the Kerry campaign the Swifties are LYING when they say they "served" with John Kerry.

I can't decide if Kerry's use of language is Orwellian or simply something from Alice's Adventure in Wonderland.


The relevance of Kerry's Vietnam past is simple-- character. A 26 year old man is not an embryo. The choices that Kerry made in the military (and after) are highly revealing and important for him to explain.



1. "A 26 year old man is not an embryo."

If he was then we could clone him and then harvest his stem cells.

Sorry. Bad joke.

2. Frankly a lot of people look at this debate/fight with some dismay. A lot of people think it's old history and it should be buried. I disagree.

Vietnam has been festering in America's soul for decades now. We've never really duked it out and every previous attempt has resulted in the subject being buried again. Let's look at the stereotypes that have come out from the Vietnam war. All of which are bad.

I think we as a nation have been spoon-fed nonsense over the years. Now it's time for the country to strip away all the propaganda and pretensions. It's time to really understand the Vietnam War not as we believe it was, but as it really was.

Like my dad said when he first saw Apocolypse Now.

"What a crock of bullshit!"


The May 3rd reference at KERRY/EDWARDS has both the two year error and true reference to his service dates.

Eric Rasmusen

I looked at your CNN link, with the Thurlow-Rassman debate. Notice how Rassman never answers Thurlow's pointed question of why nobody got hit if the enemy fire was so heavy while the four men overboard were floundering around.

The account raises another question for me. Four men were in the water and were pulled out-- Rassman, two 3-boaters, and Thurlow himself, who fell in later while rescuing the 3-boat (for which he got a Bronze Star). Only one person-Kerry- got a medal for pulling a man out of the water. Why not the other 3 people? (I think the two 3-boaters were even slightly injured-- remember it was their boat that was mined-- while Rassman was healthy and presumably easier to pull out.)

Jerry Haberer

I understand be received a dishonorable discharge and it took him the extra time to get an honorable dischage. He could sign a release for his military records and we all could learn the truth.

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