ARCHIVES
CATEGORIES
Look Who's Linking to PoliBlog:
3cx.org
Absinthe and Cookies
Accidental Verbosity
Admiral Quixote's Roundtable
All Day Permanent Red
All Things Jennifer
Ann Althouse
The American Mind
Arguing with signposts
The Astute Blogger
Asymmeterical Information
Attaboy
augustus
B-Town Blog Boys
BabyTrollBlog
Backcountry Conservative
Balloon Juice
Bananas and Such Begging to Differ
The Bemusement Park
Bewtween the Coasts
Betsy's Page
The Big Picture
BipolarBBSBlog
bLogicus
Blogs for Bush
BoiFromTroy
Boots and Sabers
brykMantra
BushBlog
The Bully Pulpit
Caffeinated Musing
California Yankee
Captain's Quarters
Chicago Report
Chicagoland of Confusion
Citizen Smash
Coldheartedtruth
Collected Thoughts
The Command Post
Common Sense and Wonder
Confessions Of A Political Junkie
Conservative and Right
Cranial Cavity
The Daily Lemon
Daly Thoughts
DANEgerus Weblog
Dart Frog on a Cactus
Dean's World Dear Free World
Brad DeLong
Democracy Project
DiVERSiONZ
The Disagreeable Conservative Curmudgeon
Down to the Piraeus
Drink this...
Earthly Passions
The Education Wonks
the evangelical outpost
exvigilare
Eye of the Storm
Feste
Filtrat
The Flying Space Monkey Chronicles
The Friendly Ghost
FringeBlog
Functional, if not decorative
G-Blog.net
The Galvin Opinion
The Glittering Eye
Haight Speech
Half-Bakered
The Hedgehog Report
Heh. Indeed.
Hellblazer
Hennessy's View
High Desert Skeptic
Robert Holcomb
I love Jet Noise
Idlewild South
Incommunicado
Independent Thinker
Insults Unpunished
Interested-Participant
Internet Ronin
Ipse Dixit
It Can't Rain All The Time...
The Jay Blog
Jen Speaks
Joefish's Freshwater Blog
John Lemon
johnrpierce.info blog
Judicious Asininity
Just On The Other Side
The Kudzu Files
LeatherPenguin
Let's Try Freedom
LibertarianJackass.com
Liberty Father
Life and Law
LittleBugler
Locke, or Demosthenes?
LostINto
Gary Manca
Mark the Pundit
Mediocre but Unexciting
memeorandum
Mental Hiccups
Miller's Time
Mind of Mog
Minorities For Bush
Mr. Hawaii
The Moderate Voice
The Modulator
Much Ado
Mungowitz End
My opinion counts
my thoughts, without the penny charge
My Word
mypetjawa
Naw
Neophyte Pundit
New England Republican
NewsHawk Daily
neWs Round-Up
No Pundit Intended
Nobody asked me, but...
Obsidian Wings
Occam's Toothbrush
On the Fritz
On the Third Hand
One Fine Jay
Out of Context
Outside the Beltway
Parablemania
Peaktalk
Peppermint Patty
Phlegma
John Pierce
PiratesCove
The Politicker
The Politburo Diktat
Political Annotation
Political Blog For The Politically Incorrect
Possumblog
Power Politics
Powerpundit.com
Practical Penumbra
Priorities & Frivolities ProfessorBainbridge.com
Prof. Blogger's Pontifications
PunditFilter
Pundit Heads
QandO
The Queen of All Evil
Quotes, Thoughts, and other Ramblings
Ramblings' Journal
Random Acts of Kindness
Random Nuclear Strikes
Ranting Rationalist
Read My Lips
Reagan Country
Jay Reding.com
A Republican's Blog
Resource.full
The Review
Right Side of the Rainbow
Right Wingin-It
Right Wing News
Right Voices
Rightward Reasonings
riting on the wall
robwestcott
Rooftop Report
The Sake of Argument
Scrappleface
Secular Sermons
Sha Ka Ree
Shaking Spears
She Who Will Be Obeyed!
The Skeptician
The Skewed
Slant/Point.
small dead animals
Sneakeasy's Joint
SoCal Law Blog
A Solo Dialogue
Solomonia
Some Great Reward
Southern Musings
Speed of Thought...
Spin Killer
Matthew J. Stinson
The Strange Political Road Trip of Jane Q. Public
Stuff about
SwimFinsSF
Target Centermass
Templar Pundit
The Temporal Globe
Tex the Pontificator
Texas Native
think about it...
Tiger
Tobacco Road Fogey
Tony Talks Tech
The Trimblog
Use The Forks!!
Varifrank
VodkaPundit
Wall of Sleep
Weapons of Mass Discussion
Who Knew?
The Window Manager
Winning Again!
WizBang!
WizBang Tech
The World Around You
The Yin Blog
You Big Mouth, You!
Zygote-Design
Non-Blogs Linking to PoliBlog:
al.com - Alabama Weblogs

AJC's 2004 Election Politics Sites and Blogs Campaign Finance
Welcome to newcounterculture.com World O' Blogs
Yahoo! Directory Political Weblogs
Young Elephant
Monday, April 19, 2004
More Nuance?

By Steven Taylor @ 11:20 am

Via this NYT story, Kerry Backs Off Statements on Vietnam War, we have the following from Kerry’s MTP interview.:

Senator John Kerry on Sunday distanced himself from contentious statements he made three decades ago after returning from the Vietnam War, saying his long-ago use of the word “atrocities” to describe his and others’ actions was inappropriate and “a little bit excessive.”

“If you wanted to ask me, `Have you ever made mistakes in your life?’ sure,” Mr. Kerry, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, said in an hourlong interview on the NBC program “Meet the Press.” “I think some of the language that I used was a language that reflected an anger.”

OK, so he’s backing off his statements, right?

Well, perhaps not:

“The words were honest,” Mr. Kerry said Sunday, “but on the other hand, they were a little bit over the top.”

So, which is it: did troops commit atrocities and break the laws of war or not?

What is he backing off of? His delivery?

As usual, it is difficult to figure out what the Senator’s position is. I am more than willing to give him something of a pass on things he said over 30 years ago-indeed, I have written very little about about the things he said then-but I think he does have to explain whether he holds the same positions now or not. He made some rather dramatic accusations at the time, and he does have to explain himself, I would argue-especially since he said, at the time, that he himself had engaged in acts that could be defined as war crimes.

Indeed, the following from the MTP Transcript for April 18 is rather interesting, given the way that Kerry does not directly answer Russert’s questions.

First, there is videotape of Kerry on MTP in 1971, with some rather dramatic accusations:

(Videotape, MEET THE PRESS, April 18, 1971):

MR. KERRY (Vietnam Veterans Against the War): There are all kinds of atrocities and I would have to say that, yes, yes, I committed the same kind of atrocities as thousands of other soldiers have committed in that I took part in shootings in free-fire zones. I conducted harassment and interdiction fire. I used 50-caliber machine guns which we were granted and ordered to use, which were our only weapon against people. I took part in search-and-destroy missions, in the burning of villages. All of this is contrary to the laws of warfare. All of this is contrary to the Geneva Conventions and all of this ordered as a matter of written established policy by the government of the United States from the top down. And I believe that the men who designed these, the men who designed the free-fire zone, the men who ordered us, the men who signed off the air raid strike areas, I think these men, by the letter of the law, the same letter of the law that tried Lieutenant Calley, are war criminals.

(End videotape)

Then comes the interchange between Kerry and Russert. Note the rather direct question (indeed, statement) by Russert and note Kerry’s attempt at humor, but more importantly the fact that he never answers the question:

MR. RUSSERT: You committed atrocities.

SEN. KERRY: Where did all that dark hair go, Tim? That’s a big question for me. You know, I
thought a lot, for a long time, about that period of time, the things we said, and I think the word is a bad word. I think it’s an inappropriate word. I mean, if you wanted to ask me have you ever made mistakes in your life, sure. I think some of the language that I used was a language that reflected an anger. It was honest, but it was in anger, it was a little bit excessive.

MR. RUSSERT: You used the word “war criminals.”

SEN. KERRY: Well, let me just finish. Let me must finish. It was, I think, a reflection of the kind of times we found ourselves in and I don’t like it when I hear it today. I don’t like it, but I want you to notice that at the end, I wasn’t talking about the soldiers and the soldiers’ blame, and my great regret is, I hope no soldier-I mean, I think some soldiers were angry at me for that, and I understand that and I regret that, because I love them. But the words were honest but on the other hand, they were a little bit over the top. And I think that there were breaches of the Geneva Conventions. There were policies in place that were not acceptable according to the laws of warfare, and everybody knows that. I mean, books have chronicled that, so I’m not going to walk away from that. But I wish I had found a way to say it in a less abrasive way.

So “atrocities” and “war criminals” are honest, but just over the top. Pardon?

It continues:

MR. RUSSERT: But, Senator, when you testified before the Senate, you talked about some of the hearings you had observed at the winter soldiers meeting and you said that people had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and on and on. A lot of those stories have been discredited, and in hindsight was your testimony…

SEN. KERRY: Actually, a lot of them have been documented.

MR. RUSSERT: So you stand by that?

SEN. KERRY: A lot of those stories have been documented. Have some been discredited? Sure, they have, Tim. The problem is that’s not where the focus should have been. And, you know, when you’re angry about something and you’re young, you know, you’re perfectly capable of not-I mean, if I had the kind of experience and time behind me that I have today, I’d have framed some of that differently. Needless to say, I’m proud that I stood up. I don’t want anybody to think twice about it. I’m proud that I took the position that I took to oppose it. I think we saved lives, and I’m proud that I stood up at a time when it was important to stand up, but I’m not going to quibble, you know, 35 years later that I might not have phrased things more artfully at times.

He essentially wants to have it both ways: yes, I was right in 1971, but I am right now to say that I was too angry in 1971. Indeed he seems to be saying that the words “war crime” and “atrocity” simply shouldn’t be used, even though he believes that war crimes and atrocities wer committed,

This kind of inability to stake out clear ground on issues, let alone his own past, is going to be a major problem for Kerry. He knows that being perceived as overly nuanced, a flip-flopper, a waffler, etc.., is one of his key weaknesses (or, at least, you’d think he would) and yet he seems incapable of overcoming his tendency to speak in the grammar of non-commitment.

Filed under: 2004 Campaign
  • The American Mind linked with Kerry's House of Ketchup #8
  • Fringe linked with Nuanced Kerry

Click here to go to the main page.

5 Comments»

  1. This is a good point. Kerry really blew the chance to look strong here. The recent Toledo Blade stories on Vietnam murders by soldiers was phenomenal reporting and a great look into acts that can only be called atrocities. Kerry is so swept up in trying not to lose the rah-rah military vote that he can’t even stand on the thing that made him famous in the first place. Good observation. And could there be a worse time to make a hair joke?

    Comment by Stephen — Monday, April 19, 2004 @ 12:54 pm

  2. Wow! This was such a long post that I didn’t read it. …but that didn’t stop me from commenting.

    Comment by John Lemon — Monday, April 19, 2004 @ 7:42 pm

  3. You criticize Kerry for avoiding taking a position because you feel he is missing opportunities to get away from the “waffle” problemn, but that is because you are coming at it from a different perspective entirely.

    This appearance - using these types of conversational evasions - are -precisely- what Kerry and his advisors want on this type of issue.

    Kerry wants to stay vague enough that people on both sides of the issues can -think- that his position is theirs. He desparately wants to avoid taking a position, because a position can be criticized. This “nuanced” type of answer can be defended when attacked by the typical response
    (and we’ve seen this from him) “That is not what I meant’That is not what I said/You misunderstood/You are taking that out of context.”

    You believe it to ultimately be a mistake in strategy, and I personally agree. But it is not that Kerry does not see the problem or people’s perception, its that he has chosen to accept that possible problem ("waffler") to avoid the clearer problems associated with actually taking a position. He feels that if he nuances (hey, it could be a verb) well enough, he can avoid more problems than he creates. And, if the press never holds his feet to the fire, maybe he’ll ultimately be right.

    Comment by Steven L — Wednesday, April 21, 2004 @ 9:06 am

  4. Point taken-and it likely is the strategy. However, like you, I simply think that ultimately won’t work to his favor. Now, of course, that is fine by me, but I think that it ultimately creates far more problems for him than it solves.

    Comment by Steven — Wednesday, April 21, 2004 @ 9:53 am

  5. Think simple. Learn different. Macinstruct.net

    Comment by Phillipa — Monday, July 5, 2004 @ 5:21 pm

RSS feed for these comments.

Leave a comment

Line and paragraph breaks automatic, e-mail address never displayed, HTML allowed: <a href="" title="" rel=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>

(required)

(required)


Take a Look At This!
  • Tabloid News
  • Word of The Day
  • Chronograph Watches
  • Office Shredders
  • Cash Registers
  • Ricoh Fax Machines
  • IBM Typewriters
  • Copy Machines
  • UNIX Consulting
  • Web Design
Inquiries
Blogroll


Visitors Since 2/15/03
---

Powered by WordPress