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‘Swifties’ Sink the USS John F. Kerry

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 05, 2004 6:26 am    Post subject: ‘Swifties’ Sink the USS John F. Kerry Reply with quote

‘Swifties’ Sink the USS John F. Kerry
by Gary Larson
03 December 2004

John O'Neill's Swift Boat Veterans for Truth attacked John Kerry where he was most vulnerable and helped prevent his ascension to the Presidency.
    . . . never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense.
    -- Winston Churchill, October 1941, to the boys at his old prep school, Harrow.
God bless our vets. Especially U.S. Navy "swifties" who challenged Senator John Kerry’s war record. Mainstream media - -hereafter, MSM -- all but avoided that record, when not extolling it. The 260-plus swift boat men -- officers and enlisted -- stepped up, duty-bound, to put Kerry’s character on the line. Their last mission of their war might well have denied victory to MSM’s clear preference in this presidential race.

Kerry reported for duty at the Boston convention. Boldly, but not wisely, he made his war record the centerpiece of his campaign. After all, his 20-year U.S. Senate record was hardly distinguished. Besides, America cried out for a fearless warrior leader to fight terrorism.

If only his fellow vets would roll over. Maybe they’d forget, for starters, his imaginary Christmas in Cambodia. There Kerry said he listened on a short-wave radio in 1968 to a yet-to-be sworn-in president disavow the incursion. Like hell he did.

Would vets forget his early exit? Thrice scratched, with sought Purple Hearts, Lt. (jg.) John Kerry took the first ticket out of Vietnam. Saying he was gaming the system is a indictment too far, but it does cross skeptical minds. Kerry came home after four months and 12 days -- one-third of a 12-month tour. GIs left behind served their whole 12 months. Some did not return alive.

At his side (literally at the convention), Kerry lined up a tiny band of believers. His crew mates (minus gunner Steve Gardner, who would be threatened for not falling in line) reported for campaign duty. Loyalists all, they would attest to Kerry’s claims, with the notable exception of the Cambodian caper. Tellingly, no one vouched for it. Not even Kerry’s official biographer. (Who called whom a "liar" in the campaign?)

A band far larger than Kerry’s, 40 times larger, including his CO (Commanding Officer) and entire chain of command, took a stand against his candidacy. Not so much that he might be president -- but, egad!, commander-in-chief. This could not stand. So the band of 260-plus swift boat brothers sought to sink the White House-bound USS John Kerry.

Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (SBVT) was led by John O’Neill, a Houston attorney and longtime Kerry antagonist. The two had debated in 1971 on The Dick Cavett Show, re-run this year on C-Span. (Kerry’s people begged C-Span not to air it.) O’Neill, who succeeded Kerry as skipper of swift boat PCF-94, proved to be a worthy adversary for a would-be president. By the way, Kerry refused to debate him.

Running on his record, Kerry did not fully divulge it. Instead he doled it out in thin slices, only the Right Stuff. Paeans to his sterling medals, praise for his most assuredly heroic Vietnam duty, these portraits of his valor were credible enough, but stilted, in overblown military prose. With good reason: They were based primarily on his official medal citations. (I know about such things. As additional PIO duty then, I wrote them by the hundreds from USAF after-action reports.)

Disclosing only bits of his record, Kerry took a page from Machiavelli’s play book: "A prince must. . .so contrive that his actions show [only] grandeur, spirit, gravity, and fortitude." (The Prince at Chap. 19) In short, show no warts.

Party faithful might be taken in, but most vets were not. Kerry had voted against all sorts of military things, intelligence capabilities, and Gulf War I. Sort of a patrician geek know-it-all, he did not talk, he pontificated, playing to the galleries, in well-rounded but mushy paragraphs. (Ah, but he had "a plan.") He was disliked vaguely, but not loathed as Bush, his candor in question. Some in his own party shared this discomfiture, but few would admit it.

Kerry’s antiwar past made him poison to GIs of Vietnam vintage. No way he’d get our (my) vote. Others might vote for the tax-happy liberal because, well, partisan party politics was their Everything. Kerry was nearest to antiwar in Iraq and politically correct as they’d get. To us (me), not voting for Kerry was a matter of principle. Die-hards in blue states may never grasp this, nor the resolve of the never-give-in "swifties" of SBVT. Some dare call it duty, a moral value not well understood on the Left and, it appears, among liberal MSM.

After his early exit from "our" war, Kerry became the point man for a rabid, ragtag outfit, the Vietnam Veterans against the War (VVAW). Who among us, vets at least, could forget their defamatory lies? Malicious by any libel standard, their tales could not be forgotten. The monstrous injustice of it all was seared -- yes, seared - -into our ex-GI psyches.

Some of us vets awaited an apology. Kerry’s nearest brush with one was telling Ted Koppel on ABC-TV’s Nightline that he [Kerry] "had not expressed myself [in ‘71] as well as I might have." A genuine "Gee, I’m sorry" could have sunk his swift boat foes. Call that ironic.

Accusing GIs of "atrocities in the style of Ghengis Kahn," such as lopping off ears and worse, made veterans’ humanity suspect, homecomings often bittersweet. "Babykiller" entered the vernacular. Many vets returned to plain hostility, to lost chances, lost loves, public contempt, homelessness. Some of their wounds would last a lifetime, while Kerry’s three scratches healed in hours. He lost no duty time in his one-third tour of duty, but won three Purple Hearts. Go figure.

In Hanoi, POWs were tortured to confess to Kerry’s bogus allegations. In Paris, he met privately with the enemy, discussing Godknowswhat. He wrote a book, titled The New Soldier, a deceitful litany of GI Joes’ barbarity. Old Glory flies upside down on its cover; inside, vets are demeaned, too. (Good luck if you try to buy a copy. Kerry has retrieved nearly the entire press run. Why?)

Fogies still recall Jane Fonda, Kerry’s ideological kin. She’s smiling still, perched atop an antiaircraft gun in Hanoi, giving aid and comfort. A few miles away, our GIs suffer unspeakable torture in the "Hanoi Hilton." (A photo of Smiling Jane hangs today, next to Kerry’s smiling countenance, at the Vietnamese War Museum. They’re lionized as "foreign heroes.")

For these bitter pills and more, U.S. Navy "swifties" felt obliged to step forward. They spoke really for all military branches. At first MSM would have none of their talk, protecting their guy Kerry. But the swift boaters’ message eked out, like forbidden tales from the Gulag, via blogs and alternative news platforms such as the Drudge Report. Soon even MSM could not disregard it.

Well-crafted TV spots, on a slim national budget ($150,000 to start), went directly to the public. "Swifties" gave interviews and speeches. In time, news-hungry 7/24 cable news -- even CNN -- picked up on their salvos. SBVT’s spots were replayed endlessly, for free, on talking-head TV programs.

Donations poured in -- astonishingly, over $26 million. Result: Additional airtime buys, new spots. Nothing fancy, nothing nasty. Just a plain-speaking narrator reciting details of Kerry’s undisclosed war record. Outspent over 100 to 1 by the Bush-hating "527" groups (George Soros, et al.), these spots resonated. Kerryites fought back, flinging epithets. Swift boaters not saluting Kerry’s line were called "liars" and (gasp!) "right-wing ideologues." What could be worse?

A New York Times item quoted a Kerry attack dog saying it was "a Republican smear." Another labeled SBVT "a Nixonian dirty trick." O’Neill was dubbed "a Republican stooge." (No matter he was a registered Democrat, same as several others in SBVT. Truth is often immaterial in MSM with an agenda.)

Media did not urge Kerry to let loose his records, as they had Bush for his Air National Guard stuff, disgorged by the reams, to be combed for "inconsistencies." MSM’s smug, smirking punditry class -- Dowd, Ivins, Krugman, et al. -- acted as a partisan goon squad shilling for Kerry. Anything their hero said was Gospel; i.e., there was no "there" there, as in his full records. "Swifties " knew better. After all, they had actually been there with Kerry under fire at the time.

Kerry had multiple choices, including:

1. Ignore the issue. Hope it would fade, untouched by MSM.

2. Confront it head-on. Speak truth to reputed lies. Bring facts to bear on allegations. Let loose the records, as Bush did. Sign that military Form 180, a two-page release.

3. Dig in his heels. In the style of Clinton, deny, deny, deny. All who disputed Kerry’s recall were to be labeled as "liars" out to "destroy him personally."

Af first Kerry ignored the issue. Blogs and the vast Internet kept it alive. Next, the Kerry camp tried a novel approach. SBVT members did not expect it, and MSM ignored it: Kerry tried to "fix" the problem. He and surrogates contacted SBVT members (e.g., retired Rear Admiral Roy F. Hoffmann) with "what’s up, old Navy buddy" calls. Vague promises were made, if they’d only change their tunes. No deal. "Swifties" did not break ranks, not even PCF-94 gunner Gardner, his job threatened by Kerry acolytes.

Kerry dug in, in the style of Clinton. Speculate, if you will, why he chose not to divulge his record: Was that early ticket home planned? Were two out of three wounds self-inflicted? Accidental shrapnel, maybe? Was his discharge in some way tainted? Why was it re-issued after he was a senator? How did he get those medals back? Did he "toss them" in the first place? Or were they ribbons? That Viet Cong youth, or young man with a weapon he chased down, then shot, did Kerry have any second Geneva Convention-type thoughts about it? Did he truly spend Christmas ‘68 in Cambodia? Or was that a macho speech posturing for his Senate colleagues? Finally, what was the story on that river rescue of Lt. Rassman? Not under fire?

Fifty years hence, historians might mull the big ‘04 question: "With the election in the balance, why didn’t Senator Kerry sign the Form 180 to lay bare his military records?" Only Kerry knows. Like the dog in a baked bean commercial, he’s not talking.

Gary Larson is a retired association CEO and former newspaper and business magazine editor. He is a graduate of the School of Journalism at the University of Minnesota, and NOT the retired cartoonist. Larson is a regular at Intellectual Conservative; prior columns are found under Culture, Media.

Email Gary Larson outing@earthlink.net

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 05, 2004 11:54 pm    Post subject: USS Kerry Reply with quote

Couldn't happen to a nicer person. HEE,hee,ha,ha, HooRaw.

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