Showboat

One recent political surprise is the fact that the swift boat controversy has actually become a controversy. Normally this kind of thing just gets buried. I don’t know if this issue has feet because of Internet coverage, because of Fox News, or because there are some Democrats who don’t really want a Kerry win to keep Hillary from running in 08.

But however it got out and around, the controversy is showing considerable signs of life. If you want to check it out, you can get started at swiftvets.com. As controversies go, this is a good one.

John Kerry, from the time of his youth, appears to have had a considerable talent for showboating. Here was a man who made movies of himself At War, capering prettily across the battlefield. Here was a man who wrote up his own heroism, wrangling enough purple hearts to get a short tour of duty. And then, when he got back home, he threw his medals away and accused his thoroughly disgusted band of brothers of being guilty of various war crimes.

A generation later, why is there any surprise, when this man makes his Vietnam service a centerpiece of his campaign for president, that his former comrades turn out, almost to a man, to denounce him as a scoundrel? There is really only one way for Kerry to answer these men. He cannot say they are doing this because they are Republicans. These are the men he accused of committing war crimes in an almost nonchalant fashion. He either needs to renew the accusations he made a generation ago, and say that these men are attacking him now because they were war criminals then, or he needs to acknowledge the force of what they are saying, and open up all his military records for public scrutiny. But all the early indications are that these records would not bear up well under scrutiny.

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