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Tuesday, August 24, 2004
Hitchens on Kerry and Viet Nam

By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 7:37 am

Writes Hitchens in Slate

John Kerry actually claims to have shot a fleeing Viet Cong soldier from the riverbank, something that I personally would have kept very quiet about. He used to claim that he was a witness to, and almost a participant in, much worse than that. So what if he has been telling the absolute truth all along? In what sense, in other words, does his participation in a shameful war qualify him to be president of the United States? This was a combat of more than 30 years ago, fought with a largely drafted army using indiscriminate tactics and weaponry against a deep-rooted and long-running domestic insurgency. (Agent Orange, for example, was employed to destroy the vegetation in the Mekong Delta and make life easier for the swift boats.) The experience of having fought in such a war is absolutely useless to any American today and has no bearing on any thinkable fight in which the United States could now become engaged. Thus, only the “character” issues involved are of any weight, and these are extremely difficult and subjective matters. If Kerry doesn’t like people disputing his own version of his own gallantry, then it was highly incautious of him to have made it the centerpiece of his appeal.


He continues:

Meanwhile, even odder things are happening to Kerry’s “left.” Michael Moore, whose film Kerry’s people have drawn upon in making cracks about the president and the My Pet Goat moment, repeatedly says that you can’t comment on the Iraq war—or at least not in favor of it—if you haven’t shown a willingness to send a son to die there. Comes the question—what if you haven’t got a son of military age? Comes the next question—should it only be veterans or potential veterans who have a voice in these matters? If so, then what’s so bad about American Legion types calling Kerry a traitor to his country? The Democrats have made a rod for their own backs in uncritically applauding their candidate’s ramrod-and-salute posture.

Also indeed. Further, this whole public discussion over Viet Nam era service has been, at its base logic, surreal. The basic argument is that Kerry is qualified to be CinC by virtue of his service, and that the vets who support him are unimpeachable because they are, well, vets. Hence, the underlying logic of the Kerry campaign position is: Viet Nam service confers veracity and wisdom. However, since he is being criticized by other veterans of the same war, often of the same incidences, if we apply the logic of the Kerry camp, they should be believed also, excpet for the fact that they are partisan hacks and aren’t covered in the same magic that veterans who support Kerry are draped.

Please understand: I am not saying that being a veteran means you are automatically to be believed, nor am I making this argument to support the claims made against Kerry’s record (as I have noted on numerous occassions, I think that attacking his medals was a mistake)-however, that is precisely the predicate upon which Kerry’s arguments are based, until such a time as a veteran opposes him.

Ultimately, it seems to me that it would be a wonderful thing if we stopped the Vet v. Vet routine and talked about stuff that happened in Kerry’s life, oh, I don’t know, during the last three decades.

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  1. This logic doesn’t even meet the whif test.

    Kerry’s campaign is NOT saying that “Viet Nam service confers veracity and wisdom". That is something YOU are saying. Kerry is saying that his experience and documented ACTIONS confers veracity and wisdom.

    Are all soldiers equal? Is there a reason why we give awards and medals for extraordinary behavior? If so, then your logic is nothing more than a complete straw man.

    I understand why you want to frame it this way. But really. It doesn’t even meet the whiff test.

    Comment by Hal — Tuesday, August 24, 2004 @ 2:36 pm

  2. Hal, the logic is strained, and that’s the point. It is the logic that Kerry is using, i.e., A Bronze Star + a Silver Star = the ability to be COmmander-in-Chief. If that logic is true (which it isn’t) then if I can find a Silver and Bronze Star winner shouldn’t he have as much credibility as Kerry?

    Aside from that: tell me in all honesty what you think Kerry’s main argument is for his election to the presidency. I argument that he has based his campaign on his Viet Nam service.

    Comment by Steven Taylor — Tuesday, August 24, 2004 @ 4:21 pm

  3. It seems that Mr. O’Niell was caught on Nixon’s secret tapes describing HIS illegal trip to Cambodia
    in the ’60s.

    Either he was LYING then or he’s LYING now in saying he was never there.

    The simple fact is is that the"swifties” allegations have been all proven false.

    So who are we supposed to believe?

    Comment by Ericl — Wednesday, August 25, 2004 @ 8:30 am

  4. I haven’t heard that one-do you have a cite?

    Comment by Steven Taylor — Wednesday, August 25, 2004 @ 8:48 am

  5. The simple fact is is that the “swifties” allegations have been all proven false.

    Actually, the Kerry campaign has so far admitted that two are true, and one “could be” but I doubt that will make any difference to you.

    Comment by triticale — Thursday, August 26, 2004 @ 11:40 am

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