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August 26, 2004

Four Good Pieces on Kerry/SwiftVets

Former Salon reporter Jake Tapper, now working for ABCNews, shocks me by actually reporting -- not grudgingly, either -- that John Kerry has a lot more "links" to a lot more "shadowy 527's" raising a hell of a lot more "unregulated soft money" than George Bush could even dream of.

The NYPost sums up the confrontation in Crawford, noting an interesting irony. (Hint: How many Purple Hearts did Max Cleland receive for losing three limbs? And why?)

More thoughtful, more rewarding, but also more meandering is this Opinion Journal piece from a blogger I linked once and expect to be linking again. He takes a while to get there, but his thesis is that a grudging post-Vietnam domestic truce was declared between the left and the right, in which both sides conceded points to the other in the interests of political peace.

The writer argues that John Kerry is exploiting one half of this truce to his advantage while refusing to honor the other prong-- and is thereby re-opening Vietnam as an issue, and bringing this all on himself.

And then there's this, a reminiscence of a Vietnam combat surgeon who had a lot of experience with troops begging for Purple Hearts in order to get their ticket home. The article contains the following "new information" -- new to me, at least. It seems that it has never been the case that you automatically get a Purple Heart for a wound, even if inflicted by enemy fire:

In the absence of the medical records that Mr. Kerry apparently declines to make public, the only details we have about his second and third Purple Hearts are that he also based them on wounds too minor to require hospitalization. My reason for refusing to verify insignificant wounds as the basis for a Purple Heart was the regulation covering Purple Heart awards. In Part B, Paragraph 2, of the Army Purple Heart Regulation (600-8-22 of 25 February 1995), we find "the wound for which the award is made must have required treatment by a medical officer."

Dr. Louis Letson was entirely correct in turning down Lt. Kerry's first Purple Heart β€” even if the wound had been the result of enemy action. Can there be any doubt that the tiny metal sliver could have been removed easily, and safely, by a Navy corpsman? It certainly did not "require" treatment by a medical officer (an MD).

Purple Hearts are not supposed to be awarded for self-inflicted wounds, nor for wounds too minor to require treatment by a physician. So where and how did Lt. Kerry eventually obtain a Purple Heart for his first wound? Nobody seems to know. Only his medical records will tell β€” and the American public needs that information to evaluate candidate Kerry's qualifications and candor.

All three of Kerry's wounds-- even the one most likely to have been inflicted by hostile enemy action -- were of such a trivial nature that none "required" medical treatment by a doctor. Only one arguably did; even if we grant that one, Kerry was still two legitimate Purple Hearts shy of an early ticket stateside.

I should note that I don't think it's necessarily cowardly or even blameworthy to game the system to your advantage; but it's definitely not heroic. We may say that we can hardly blame Vietnam vets for wanting to get home as soon as the system could possibly allow, but we certainly wouldn't call such men "War Heroes" for doing so.

And yet that's precisely what John Forbes Kerry has done, and is doing. He could have simply gotten three bullshitty Purple Hearts and gone home, confident that he had honorably served, while not heroically. Or he could have braved the bullets and bombs and possibly given life or limb for the country, in which case he would have in fact served heroically.

The problem is once again one of trying to have it both ways. After serving in Vietnam for just four months before engineering an escape hatch of his own contrivance, John Forbes Kerry was not content to simply call himself a veteran, but a courageous hero.

A lot of liberal pundits make the case that criticizing John Forbes Kerry's service in 'Nam demeans other veterans.

They fail to comprehend -- or, more likely, refuse to acknowledge -- that awarding John Forbes Kerry the accolades reserved for heroes demeans true heroes. The guys who risked all and died for it. The fewer band of heroes who risked all and actually lived to tell the tale.

John Forbes Kerry risked as little as possible in Vietnam, and yet he wants to wear the wreath and laurel of a modern day Achilles. Every day the media calls him a "war hero," either dishonestly or negligently failing to report that probably two thirds of all Vietnam Vets did as much or more in Nam as John Kerry, but very few of them have medals or were ever called "war hero" -- or got an early ticket home on the basis of two scratches and a sliver in the keister.

An Unrelated Aperitif: I always loved Isaac Asimov's science essays as a kid (detested his fiction-- ucch). The cool thing about Asimov is that you could begin reading an essay convinced you had absolutely no interest whatsoever in the topic and yet be thrilled by the conclusion. And you'd learn something along the way.

Steven den Beste isn't quite up to Asimov's level yet, because den Beste tends to interest me with stuff I'm already interested in. If he can finally sell me on his passion for Japanese Anime, maybe I'll acknowledge him as Asimov's heir.

But you just can't help feeling smarter by the end of this piece on Saddam's nuclear reactor, and its capacity to produce weapons-capable fuel, than you were befoe you started it.

And along the way, he ferociously bitch-slaps a libdweeb jerkoff from Paris Match magazine; so what's not to love?


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posted by Ace at 02:36 AM

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