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The Flag of the World

-G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

This here blog is a glimpse or two or three at the condition of the 'fortress of our family' through the eyes Timothy Goddard, a Christian writer with an unhealthy interest in politics living in the Puget Sound area.

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Thursday, August 05, 2004

More on Kerry in Vietnam
I'm reading through the free chapter of Unfit for Command offered by Human Events Online. Unfit for Command is the book put together by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth about Kerry's time in Vietnam. (It's currently the top seller on Amazon.)

I'm trying to read this with a critical eye. I don't want to attack Kerry regarding his service. But at the same time, I want us to hear what these people have to say (even if John McCain doesn't want us to). Most of the chapter is pretty much he said-she said sort of stuff (or more accurately, he said-all his commanding officers said sort of stuff). It's convincing if you're already apt to think of Kerry as untrustworthy, but there's not a lot of hard evidence (in part because Kerry won't release some of that hard evidence).

But one section is surprisingly damning, as it points out a portion of Kerry's story that has completely changed over the years. Consider this claim Kerry made on the Senate floor on March 27, 1986:
I remember Christmas of 1968 sitting on a gunboat in Cambodia.I remember what it was like to be shot at by the Vietnamese and Khmer Rouge and Cambodians, and have the president of the United States telling the American people that I was not there; the troops were not in Cambodia. I have that memory which is seared—seared—in me.
But in Kerry's book Tour of Duty, he gives a different story: he was in Sa Dec, fifty-five miles from Cambodia, with an amusing story of getting lost while trying to find the Bob Hope Christmas show.

So Kerry undeniably flat out lied about his time in Vietnam: either on the floor of the Senate (and in several other instances) or in his book. Which was it?

The writing itself is not very good. It takes each and every opportunity to bash Kerry six ways from Sunday, instead of taking one or two specific faults and fleshing them out. The book fails the "show, don't tell" test of writing: though it shows Kerry's flaws very effectively, it tells us about them every other sentence, making the book seem more like overwraught polemic than it really is. It's also a little unclear how the book is organized. The free chapter, chapter three, is called "The Purple Heart Hunter," but the chapter ranges into a lot of other subjects, including the Cambodia story above. It may be a chronological telling, but it doesn't appear that way at first. This may well make more sense in the book as a whole.

Overall, the video is much better than the book, but they are both worth a look. I'm honestly surprised at the amount of rumors about Kerry's service that appear to be true, and it makes Kerry's intense and nearly exclusive focus on his Vietnam service appear rather foolish.
Agree, disagree, have more information on the topic? Please, feel free to leave a comment. No profanity!

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