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Thursday, August 12, 2004

I've been holding off commenting on the charges that KERRY LIED!!! about his service in Vietnam. My initial take was that the man has been through numerous elections and the fact that these charges surfaced now is suspicious. But it seems that at least Kerry's story about spending Christmas in Cambodia in 1968 is false.

Kerry clearly stated on multiple occasions that he was physically present with his swiftboat and crew in Cambodia on Christmas Day. The only Christmas Day he was in Southeast Asia was 1968. He says he had a kind of "Apocalypse Now" moment when he came under fire from Cambodians, Khmer Rouge troops (which would later successfully oust the US installed government of Lon Nol, the only world leader in history ever to have a name which didn't change when you spelled it backwards) and our putative South Vietnamese allies (who were drunkenly celebrating Christmas by firing their weapons into the air, with Kerry apparently located squarely in the landing zone of the bullets).

The Swiftboat Vets' book charges that Kerry was never in Cambodia. We bombed Cambodia secretly during the Nixon administration (which did not take office until early 1969) and openly invaded (we called it an "incursion") sometime around 1972. But on Christmas Day, 1968, we just weren't there. And apparently neither was Kerry, since he later claimed that he never said he was in Cambodia, only near it.

But, in fact, Kerry did claim to have been in Cambodia. Da Blogfaddah cites the Kerry claims, as reported in:

The Congressional Record (from a March 27, 1986 speech on the floor of the Senate attempting to keep us out of Nicaragua)

The Boston Globe (from a 1979 interview)

And, via JustOneMinute, in an AP story

Why is Kerry's story about where he was 35 years ago important? Just ask James Lileks:

If Kerry’s story is a lie, it’s significant, but not because we have a gotcha moment – gee, a politician reworked the truth to his advantage, big surprise. This is much larger than that. This is like Bush insisting that he flew an intercept mission with the Texas Air National Guard to repel Soviet bombers based in Cuba, and later stating that this event was “seared in his memory – seared” because it taught him the necessity of standing up against evil governments, such as the ones we face today. In other words, it would not only be a lie, but one that eroded the political persona he was relying upon in the election. Kerry has made Vietnam central to his campaign. If he’s making crap up, it matters.
Or Craig Henry:

Kerry didn't just use his Vietnam experience to enhance his stature as a man or leader. His campaign used it to shut down debate on his Senate record. They made the biography the issue.
Or Will Collier (on Vodkapundit, discussing the Henry quote linked above):

Exactly. That's why this is important--and why the press's silence would be inexplicable, if we didn't already know that they've taken sides in the election.
The silence of the press may be explainable given that they have largely taken sides in this election. But allowing the fact that you have covertly taken sides to control (not affect, control) your coverage on news stories is inexcusable.
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