Thursday, August 26, 2004

KERRY: STRANGE, STUCK-UP... AND STUPID

William's note: You have to go to British newspapers (The Guardian) to read this type of opinion

By Mark Steyn

According to Francis Harris in Saturday's Telegraph, allegations that John Kerry "lied about his Vietnam record" are "unravelling". Oh, I wouldn't say that. Right now, it looks like the sanity of the Kerry campaign and its pals in the media that's beginning to unravel.

Switch on the TV these days and you'll see John O'Neill, principal spokesman for the hundreds of Swift boat veterans who oppose their old comrade Kerry, talking calmly and patiently about the facts, citing chapter and verse and relevant footnotes, while some deranged interviewer is going berserk.

The other day it was CNN host James Carville, former skinhead-in-chief to Bill Clinton, yelling and howling all over O'Neill's answers before brushing him aside with, "I've got no use for this man."

Meanwhile, the grandees at the New York Times, having studiously ignored the story for two weeks, decided that, with the Kerry campaign all but paralysed by the issue, they'd have to sully their lily-white hands with the ghastly business and kill it themselves. Maureen Dowd, the paper's elderly schoolgirl columnist, dismissed the dissenting Swiftees as "creepy-crawly", "stomach-turning", "sleazoids".

Pat Oliphant, who appears in the Washington Post and many other newspapers, offered a cartoon showing the Swiftees as Bush-backing deadbeats sitting round a bar bitching: "I never seen Kerry do nothing hee-roic," says one loser. "Damn right," says another. "You and me was right there in latrine maintenance. We orta know."

The redneck spelling's a nice touch, ain't it? I wonder which of the anti-Kerry campaign's 254 Swift vets, including 17 of Lieutenant Kerry's 23 fellow officers, Oliphant thinks were in latrine maintenance. Maybe he's got in mind fellows like Paul Galanti, who appears in the latest anti-Kerry ad and whose plane went down over North Vietnam in 1966. He was held in the "Hanoi Hilton" Viet Cong POW camp until 1973. That's seven years getting tortured by the gooks, only to be mocked by some lame-o cartoonist as a redneck latrine operator.

I've never quite understood the preferred formulation of big-time Democrats – that "of course" they support our troops even though they oppose this war. But in practice they "support our troop" – singular – just Lieut Kerry and the handful of Swiftees willing to appear in public with him. The rest can go to hell and any of 'em impertinent enough to question the Senator are just "sleazoids" wading through their own backed-up latrine. I wonder if the Kerry campaign and its media cheerleaders have really thought this one through.

Nothing the "sleazoids" say about Kerry is as bad as what he said about them 33 years ago in his testimony to Congress, when he informed the world that his comrades – his "band of brothers" – had "personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads" etc, throughout their time in Vietnam.

Unlike John O'Neill's book, he didn't bother to give specifics: the US Army in general was rife with ear-severers. If you want to know why Paul Galanti is appearing in an anti-Kerry ad, it's because he first heard about this speech from his Viet Cong captors who cited it to try to persuade him and his fellow prisoners that resistance was now futile and they might as well cross over to the other side.

I said a couple of weeks back that John Kerry was too strange to be President, and a week or two earlier that he was too stuck-up to be President. Since I'm on an alliterative roll, let me add that he's too stupid to be President. What sort of idiot would make the centrepiece of his presidential campaign four months of proud service in a war he's best known for opposing?

I wouldn't stand for Parliament on a family values platform because I know someone's bound to bring up the 123 gay porn movies I had a bit part in back in Amsterdam in the 1970s.

How cocooned from reality do you have to be to think you can transform one of the most divisive periods in American history – in which you were largely responsible for much of the divisiveness – into a sappy, happy-clappy, soft-focus patriotic blur without anybody objecting? Most Vietnam veterans of my acquaintance loathe John Kerry, and, if he wasn't aware of that, he's too out of it to be President.

That can happen to rich guys, particularly touchy, thin-skinned rich guys who prefer to surround themselves with yes-men. Kerry was apparently infuriated by the cool reception he got from a veterans' audience last week. But why would he expect anything different?

And even if he'd never slimed his comrades, there's something ridiculous about a fellow with four months in Vietnam running as Ike, the Duke of Wellington and Alexander the Great rolled into one. On Sunday, after calling on the Senator to apologise to the 2.5 million veterans he slandered, Bob Dole couldn't resist chipping in his own view of Kerry's wounds.

"Here's, you know, a good guy, a good friend. I respect his record. But three Purple Hearts and never bled that I know of," he said. "I mean, they're all superficial wounds." Dole's right arm is withered and useless from wounds received in World War Two, and he never made a big hoo-ha about it in the '96 campaign.

But, more significantly, Dole prizes bipartisan Senatorial chumminess over almost everything, and my guess is he wouldn't be slamming Kerry if he weren't so revolted by the unseemly showboating of this campaign. If Vietnam vets loathe him, World War Two vets seem to think he's a buffoon. Short of reversing over the last 128-year-old Spanish-American War veteran in the retirement home parking lot, it's hard to see how Kerry could more comprehensively diminish his military support.

Still, he's doing his best. After going around huffing and a-puffing that, if Bush wanted a debate about Vietnam, "Here is my answer: BRING. IT. ON," he's now gone to ground and is demanding Bush call it off. Meanwhile, his lawyers are threatening suits and the campaign's complained to the Federal Election Commission to get the Swift vets taken off air.

His hagiographer Douglas Brinkley, after an intriguing interview with the Telegraph's David Rennie, seems to have entered the witness protection programme. If this campaign were any more inept, Michael Moore would be making a documentary claiming Kerry's a Republican plant secretly controlled by Karl Rove and the House of Saud.
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