WSJ: Kerry's Cambodia Christmas Story Falls Apart.Roundup: Media's Take
Robert L. Polock, i the WSJ (Aug. 16, 2004):
John Kerry volunteered for service in Vietnam. John Kerry was wounded in Vietnam. And a number of the men with whom John Kerry served testify to acts of courage on his part.
This much seems beyond question, and I see no reason to weigh in on the factual disputes surrounding Mr. Kerry's medals being waged by pro-Kerry vets like Jim Rassmann and the anti-Kerry vets of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. Both sides strike me as sincere, but eyewitness accounts of fast-moving and stressful situations like combat are too unreliable for there to be much hope of getting at the "truth" here.
But Americans have never accepted that a record of service, however honorable, should forever entitle a man to deference on matters of war and peace. (Ask George McGovern.) And the political uses to which Mr. Kerry would later put his Vietnam experience are certainly fair game for criticism. Which brings up Mr. Kerry's claim--repeated in at least three different decades, and on the floor of the Senate--that he spent Christmas Eve of 1968 not in Vietnam but in Cambodia. He obviously considered it a point of some significance, since he used it to impugn the integrity of those who waged the Vietnam War.
This is how he described it to the Boston Herald in 1979: "I remember spending Christmas Eve of 1968 five miles across the Cambodian border being shot at by our South Vietnamese allies. . . . The absurdity of almost being killed by our own allies in a country in which President Nixon claimed there were no American troops was very real."
In 1986 Mr. Kerry argued on the Senate floor against U.S. support for the Nicaraguan contras, again citing the 1968 Christmas in Cambodia and "the president of the United States telling the American people I was not there; the troops were not in Cambodia. I have that memory which is seared--seared--in me." In a 1992 interview with the Associated Press the story came back: "By Christmas 1968, part of Kerry's patrol extended across the border of South Vietnam into Cambodia."
Trouble is, the person who appears to have been wrong here about Mr. Kerry's location was not the president--who was Lyndon Johnson, not Nixon, by the way--but Mr. Kerry himself. His commanding officers all testify to this fact, as do men who were on his boat at the time. And so now, reluctantly, does the Kerry campaign.
Last Wednesday Kerry spokesman Michael Meehan sent me a statement saying that
"During John Kerry's service in Vietnam, many times he was on or near the
Cambodian border and on one occasion crossed into Cambodia. . . . On December
24, 1968 Lieutenant John Kerry and his crew were on patrol in the watery borders
between Vietnam and Cambodia deep in enemy territory." I asked for clarification
as to whether the "one occasion" was Christmas Eve 1968. "No,"
was the reply.
"Watery borders" is something of an evasion, intended to imply that Mr. Kerry's "seared" memory might have been easily confused. But according to both the maps and the testimony of swift vets, the Mekong doesn't run along the Cambodian border but bisects it, such that the coincidence between the two is obvious. In any case, Mr. Kerry's own journal, as cited in Douglas Brinkley's biography, records him being 50-some miles from the border at Sa Dec on that day contemplating visions of "sugar plums."...
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Dave Livingston - 1/7/2005
If this story is correct, Kerry now admits he lied in order to acquire his first Purple Heart, that it may have been self-inflicted. Evidently, he also admits he has lied for decades about his supposed secret mission into Cambodia. AND this GUTLESS WONDER admits that he fled the scene of the action on 13 March 1969.
The Swifties are vindicated, they havre successfully shown Kerry up to be a coward & a mutiple liar who campaigned for & accepted unearned decorations for wounds received & for nonexistent valor in Viet-Nam. H3's a despicable disgrace to the nation.
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