everything old is new again

Kerry 1, GOP Spin Machine 0

April 22, 2004
Kerry 1, GOP Spin Machine 0

I haven’t been talking much about Kerry as of yet; it’s going to be a long campaign, after all. But his deft playing of the GOP Wurlitzer is utterly brilliant. What am I talking about?

His initial “refusal” to release his Vietnam records to the press.

Kerry knew exactly what he was doing, making the SCLM think he was hiding something in them, to the point where a man who never served with Kerry was trotted out to claim Kerry wasn’t what his records stated he was. Funny thing about that guy — he served in Kerry’s unit — two months after Kerry came home.

Kerry’s record, which shows him to be nothing but an exemplary officer, is a study in contrasts compared to the Shrub’s. Kerry asked to be transferred to Vietnam.

The Shrub asked to be transferred to Alabama, and asked not to be sent to Vietnam.

Oops.

As I said, deftly played. By forcing the huge stink, when the truth comes out, it only makes him look better and better.

Today’s NY Times has this:

WASHINGTON — Records of John Kerry’s Vietnam War service released Wednesday show a highly praised naval officer with an Ivy League education who spoke fluent French and had raced sailboats — the fruits of a privileged upbringing that set him apart from the typical seaman.

With Republicans questioning his service in Vietnam, the Democratic candidate for president posted more than 120 pages of military records on his campaign Web site. Several describe him as a gutsy commander undertaking a dangerous assignment in Vietnam and detail some of the actions that won three Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star and a Silver Star.

Kerry’s most harrowing experience came during the nearly five months when he commanded a swiftboat along Vietnam’s Mekong Delta. The future Massachusetts senator was commended for gallantry, heroism and valor during the tour, which was cut short when Kerry was wounded three times and sent back to the United States.

Throughout his four years of active duty, Kerry’s superiors gave him glowing evaluations, citing his maturity, intelligence and immaculate appearance. He was recommended for early promotion, and when he left the Navy in 1970 to run for Congress, his commanding officer said it was the Navy’s loss.

The lowest marks Kerry earned were the equivalent of average — in military bearing, reliability and initiative. But narrative comments from his commanding officers said he was diplomatic, charismatic, decisive and well-liked by his men.

“Intelligent, mature and rich in educational background and experience, Ens Kerry is one of the finest young officers I have ever met and without question one of the most promising,” wrote Capt. Allen Slifer, Kerry’s supervisor aboard the USS Gridley, where he served his first tour in Vietnam but was far removed from combat as an electrical officer.

Kerry’s education included Swiss boarding school, and he won speaking and debating awards and was class orator at Yale University’s commencement. He lettered in varsity soccer and lacrosse, fenced, had a private pilot’s license and had experience sailing and ocean racing.

Kerry traveled throughout Europe in his youth and spoke fluent French and some German. His supervising officer later commended him for taking it upon himself to learn Vietnamese.

Kerry cited his sailing experience before the Navy when he volunteered to command a swiftboat, a 50-foot-long craft that could operate at high speeds in the rough waters of Vietnam’s rivers and tributaries.

Some critics have questioned whether Kerry’s injuries were severe enough to warrant his reassignment to the United States. The records briefly describe shrapnel wounds to his arm and thigh for the first two Purple Hearts, but they don’t detail the severity of the wounds.

According to a naval instruction document provided by Kerry’s campaign, anyone serving in Vietnam who was wounded three times, regardless of the nature of the wound or treatment required, “will not be ordered to service in Vietnam and contiguous waters.”

On Feb. 28, 1969, Kerry’s craft and two other boats came under heavy fire from the riverbanks. Kerry ordered his units to turn into the ambush and sent men ashore to charge the enemy. According to the records, an enemy soldier holding a loaded rocket launcher sprang up within 10 feet of Kerry’s boat and fled. Kerry leapt ashore, ran down the man and killed him.

Kerry and his men chased or killed all the enemy soldiers in the area, captured enemy weapons and then returned to the boat only to come under fire from the opposite bank as they began to pull away. Kerry again beached his boat and led a party ashore to pursue the enemy, and they successfully silenced the shooting. Later, the boats were again under fire, but Kerry initiated a heavy response that killed 10 Viet Cong and wounded another with no casualties to his own men.

He won the Silver Star “for gallantry and intrepidity in action” that day. Two weeks later, Kerry was engaged in another fire fight that resulted in a Bronze Star for heroic achievement and the third Purple Heart that would result in his reassignment out of Vietnam.

Kerry was commanding one of five boats on patrol on March 13, 1969, when two mines detonated almost simultaneously — one beneath another boat and one near Kerry’s craft. Shrapnel hit Kerry’s buttocks, and his right arm was bleeding from contusions, but he rescued a boatmate who had been thrown overboard in the blast and was under sniper fire from both banks. Kerry then directed his crew to return to the other damaged craft and tow it to safety.

In April 1969, Kerry was sent stateside to the Military Sea Transportation Service, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, in Brooklyn, N.Y. On Nov. 21, 1969, Kerry requested that he be released from his commitment to serve actively until August 1970 so that he could run for Congress.

He was promoted to full lieutenant on Jan. 1, 1970, and soon after was discharged from active duty and became a reservist.

When you look at the two records, there is no comparison. Kerry did his service, the Shrub didn’t.

Strike this one from your reasons to support the Shrub.

One Response to Kerry 1, GOP Spin Machine 0

  • Having released all this, it annoys me that the only thing that gets a look in on the right side is that the medical records for the first purple star were never released because ‘Kerry considers it a private medical record’.

    It annoys me that such a small thing can put such a smear in the eyes of so many silly people.