(Page 2 of 2)
With rueful admiration, former Senator and Navy Seal Bob Kerrey called the last Democratic president, Bill Clinton, “an exceptionally good liar.” Unfortunately Senator John Kerry is an exceptionally bad liar. How many lies he has told and how serious they are remains a question that is now under examination. Perhaps no one really cares. These days historians, journalists and the public alike appear to value sheer celebrity more than any standard of truth.
Today’s journalists have so little experience with the military they haven’t a clue how to evaluate the charges brought by the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth about Kerry’s quest for medals. They can’t tell the difference between a bronze star and a Boy Scout merit badge, and can’t be bothered to learn. What does the press care about cowardice, deceitful conduct, and lying about a mere war record? At least Kerry has one and there is no arguing with that. But it will be very hard for Kerry to swim out of the Cambodian fiasco without getting all wet. For here Kerry was lying directly to the press itself and they know it.
NOW DOUGLAS BRINKLEY HAS taken on the thankless task of trying to explain the florid Cambodian Christmas fairytale Kerry has been flogging for 30 years to the press, in speeches, and in his own campaign publications and Internet site. In a speech on the floor of the Senate Kerry called it one of the defining moments of his life. Now it is time to redefine it to save Kerry’s political life, before the embarrassed silence of the media gives way to a real desire to find out what else Kerry has lied about. And it’s not going to be easy. Look at the challenge Brinkley has set for himself in his statement to the London Telegraph last week:
“Kerry went into Cambodian waters three or four times in January and February 1969 on clandestine missions. He had a run dropping off US Navy Seals, Green Berets and CIA guys.”
That is really raising the ante. All Kerry had said until now was that he had been in Cambodia on “more than one occasion.” It won’t be easy to find “three or four” occasions in that time period. Remember Kerry crewmember Steve Gardner was with Kerry for almost all of January, and Gardner has already said he never went into “Cambodian waters.”
These missions took place under the direction of Kerry’s superior officers who had to detach Swiftboats from other duties to handle these insertions. And there were indeed missions like this. Swiftvet leader Admiral Roy Hoffmann is perfectly well aware of them. How likely are any of Kerry’s commanders to support his latest insertion assertion?
Kerry was stuck down on an isolated base at An Thoi on Dao Phu Quoc Island off the coast of Cambodia during February 1969. He certainly wasn’t going on these missions on his own without his superior officers being aware of them. Who else was going to pick Kerry out of the other Swiftboat commanders for the assignment? And “three or four times” is pretty conspicuous in a month with only 28 days.
Kerry has stated, “I took my patrol boat into Cambodia.” He recalled it was his Swiftboat, which most likely would have been PCF94, with full naval markings. And that means he had his crew on board. He couldn’t operate the Swiftboat on his own. Which of his crew will back Kerry up with memories of “three or four” trips into Cambodia the way they did on stage at the Democratic Convention? Or is there an ancient CIA man out there eager to try on his hat in a photo op with Senator Kerry?
Perhaps there is a pumpkin in a patch somewhere hiding microfilms of secret Kerry papers explaining all this written on his old Underwood typewriter. But after so many “memory failures” based on selections from Kerry’s journals, they are unlikely to be taken at face value at this point. Whatever Brinkley comes up with, the payoff on this story is likely to be at least as fascinating as Nixon’s secretary Rose Mary Woods’ explanation of how she accidentally erased the 18 and a half minutes of a crucial Watergate tape. I can’t wait.