During the better part of the last three years we have endured an endless series of offerings from the Bush-Haters-Book-of-the-Month Club. These volumes have overexerted titles and overly verbose subtitles like Big Lies: The Rightwing Propaganda Machine and How It Distorts the Truth or Worse than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush. They contain very little unique information from one to the next. Most are petty; some are demonstrably fraudulent, such as Joe Wilson’s The Politics of Truth. They are mostly written by people who are professionally distasteful of President Bush. All of them have been written by people who don’t know him personally.
Unfit for Command by Vietnam veteran John O’Neill and Jerome Corsi, an expert on antiwar movements, shares none of those characteristics. It is a book unlike other campaign cycle books in that it injects new information into the public dialogue, avoids redundant circular arguments about issues, and, well, it has a point. That point is summed up with Thomistic bravado by John O’Neill in the book’s first chapter: “I resolved that I would refute Kerry’s lies.”
The chapters in Unfit for Command are testimonies by swift boat captains and crew who knew current Democratic hopeful John Kerry personally. These men offer no insinuations. Their vignettes are not the paranoid ramblings of obese, low-budget filmmakers. The accusations are laid out in black-and-white for Sen. Kerry to read and respond to. That is, if anyone in the gaggle of reporters he travels with daily would bother to ask him about them.
O’Neill clearly loathes Kerry. He launches the book with a chapter highlighting their semi-famous debate on The Dick Cavett Show in 1971, a debate in which a friendly audience slowly turned on Kerry, finally booing him by the end. O’Neill attributes Kerry’s lies about Vietnam to a hyperactive political libido. Indeed, during the debate, O’Neill predicted Kerry would use his newfound fame to launch a Congressional campaign in Massachusetts, which Kerry denied. A few months later Kerry announced his campaign for Congress in Lowell, MA.
THE SUBSEQUENT CHAPTERS contain the meat of the book. The authors present two broad categories of concern. The first are legitimate issues of debate, such as: Did John Kerry’s anti-Vietnam War activities provide aid and comfort to the enemy? Reasonable people can disagree about these. But the second category — his conduct during the war — places Kerry on perilous ground. For if the swift boat operators are correct — and it’s vital to note John Kerry has never refuted these charges — then John Kerry is a liar, an incompetent, a slanderer, and guilty of war crimes.
One officer shares his testimony of Kerry’s bellyaching in Vietnam: “He objected to the various operations, complaining that they were poorly thought out.” He is still doing so today, only the war in question is in Iraq. Kerry’s Vietnam journal is bursting with fabrications, not unlike the fantastic story he lately tells about a New Hampshire woman who was forced to work through her chemotherapy just to keep her health insurance. And Kerry concocted elaborate, hero-villain conversations with his superiors that never occurred, reminding us this man claims to have met with the United Nations Security Council before his vote to authorize the use of force to remove Saddam Hussein.
The authors provide a disappointing analysis of John Kerry’s anti-war star turn in 1971. Indeed, everyone has given us too little analysis of this period of Kerry’s public career. The only person to come close to grilling him is Tim Russert from NBC’s Meet the Press who broadcast footage from a 1971 interview in which Kerry charged the United States with genocide.
“Thirty years later, you stand by that?” Russert asked him.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
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The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
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