“Senator John Kerry has made his 4-month combat tour in Vietnam the centerpiece of his bid for the Presidency. His campaign jets a handful of veterans around the country, and trots them out at public appearances to sing his praises. John Kerry wants us to believe that these men represent all those he calls his ‘band of brothers.’
“But most combat veterans who served with John Kerry in Vietnam see him in a very different light.”
So proclaims the homepage of a group calling itself “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth,” which claims to consist of Vietnam veterans angered by Kerry’s accusations of war crimes in the 1970’s and is said to include veterans who served alongside Kerry as well as some of his superiors. Trina of “Reflections” pointed out the site by way of a comment on my write-up about Kerry’s acceptance speech. Trina is quite passionate about Vietnam Veterans and her journal is worth a read.
The “Swift Boats” site has some disturbing accusations against Kerry, including the suggestion that his war crimes claims were phony, that he exaggerated claims about his own service and that for all the calls his side has made to President Bush to release all of his service records, there are still parts of Kerry’s own record that hasn’t been made public, either.
If that’s true, you have to wonder why someone who wants the public to be able to see all of Bush’s records hasn’t already handed over all of his own. The insinuation (which sometimes isn’t presented at all as a mere insinuation) in Kerry’s military service stance is that he wouldn’t ask any of our nation’s troops to do something he wasn’t willing to do himself. So why would he ask Bush to make all of his records public if Kerry hasn’t already made all of his public?
How accurate is this portrayal of Kerry? It’s hard to say. Some of what is written there contains an apparent anger in the words. That is because, they claim, that they are tired of being used for the political gain of someone who doesn’t have their support. They have an axe to grind. (In one example, right on the site’s first page, only one of the 18 soldiers pictured with Kerry is said to consider himself part of Kerry’s “Band of Brothers.”)
But given the fact that Kerry’s camp screamed about Bush’s records not being completely available, cried foul when some of them did turn up, claimed that they were released as some sort of political conspiracy, then renewed their claims that Bush was hiding something when the “new” details didn’t really provide new information, one cannot be entirely surprised that Kerry’s own record is being called into question. It’s that age-old story about what’s good for the goose being good for the gander.
If the fact that Kerry is a war veteran makes his point of view more important and his claims more credible than those of someone who hasn’t served, you should feel the same way about these folks’ points of view and claims, whether you ultimately believe them or not.
If their claims carry no credibility with you at all, despite the fact that they, too, have served our nation proudly, then you should wonder why Kerry’s own military service seems to carry such weight.