« Two planes down in Russia | Main | It's Who You Know »

August 25, 2004

Comments

He also wants the mantle of moral righteousness from having opposed the war for those with a more pacifistic bent or in some cases anti-American bent.

So... you're saying John Kerry is trying to appeal to anti-Americans? You're really saying that? You're not saying, that, surely.

I am somewhat loathe to comment on Vietnam because, young whippersnapper that I am, I am familiar with it largely through the history books only. However, it's 5 AM, I'm up for some reason, and I think this is a bad lesson to be drawing from Vietnam:

The supporters of the war in Vietnam embraced this lesson because they naively believed that it would always remind everyone how anti-war protests had dispirited the nation and brought on defeat.

Anti-war protests did not bring on defeat in Vietnam. Poor decision-making on the part of the US political and military leadership, an ineffective counter-insurgency programs, and the fact that the whole purpose of our endeavor there was to shore a succession of maddeningly corrupt and widely unpopular autocratic regimes brought on defeat. Furthermore, these protests did not just spring up from nowhere: I would say, if anything, it was the continual and habitual dissembling, dishonesty, and opaqueness of the administrations leading us through a little-explained war that chewed through a large number of young American without much to show for it in the end that "dispirited" the nation.

To suggest that a tiny minority should gain veto power over American military action abroad is, of course, ridiculous. I doubt there has ever been a military campaign abroad that has enjoyed universal domestic support, and given the diverse American political landscape, I doubt there ever will be; US interventions in Somalia, Bosnia, and Kosovo all had their opponents (not a few of them Republicans) but nobody seriously considered holding out until we had somehow unified our nation in full support of them. While some fringe protest groups would no doubt love to have that sort veto power, they really don't: initial support for the Iraq war once it went underway was fairly high. So the necessity of holding out for some absolutist level of support before embarking on any military campaign is not actually a serious lesson for anyone to be drawing from Vietnam.

What is is that eventually (and this is relative), after long deployments and escalating casualties and little forthright answers from our leadership, the American public will start to get angry and start to demand answers as to why we are really being forced to pay this price now. The government can operate with a fairly free hand in foreign policy a lot of the time, because most people lack the time or inclination to inform themselves on the issues or effects of our policies abroad; the word of the chief executive and his top advisors that something is "in America's interest" is usually enough for a lot of people.. particuarly when subtly reinforced by scare-mongering and hyped descriptions of the threats presented by Country, or lately Rogue State, X. But if eventually things start to go badly, people will, however belatedly, come to question the leadership that led them into this situation, and ask just how much they trust those promises, and by extension the administration who offered them, now. Re-examining the case that was made to them, which was not the case made among foreign policy and grand strategy specialists, they see little to show for thus far and start to agitate for an exit, and the voice of smaller groups who protested from the outset starts to sound prescient. That's the situation we're finding ourselves in now, I think, and it parallels Vietnam in a sense. The lesson is not, I think, that we must only go to war with overwhelming force when supported unanimously at home as the Weinberger/Powell doctrine once expressed, but that the government owes it to its citizenry to honestly and forthrightly explain its goals and programs in foreign policy and not try to rule over the heads of the public, a lesson that the Straussian Noble Lie adherents in the Bush administration have proven very inept at learning indeed.

After reading mc masterchef's comment above, I've got two questions now. First, is Sebastian really saying John Kerry is trying to appeal to people he knows are anti-American; second, what does Sebastian think about the Vietnam War?

a policy that transforms the idiocy of Susan Sarandon and Michael Moore into self-fulfilling prophecy:

I know you didn't write this bit, Sebastian, but are you seriously concurring with the author that the only people who didn't support the Iraq war, in the whole of the US, were Susan Sarandon and Michael Moore?

Opposition to the invasion of Iraq was widespread: it was muted only by Bush & Co's lying claims of a connection between Iraq and al-Qaida and/or stockpiled WMD.

mc_masterchef: The lesson is not, I think, that we must only go to war with overwhelming force when supported unanimously at home as the Weinberger/Powell doctrine once expressed, but that the government owes it to its citizenry to honestly and forthrightly explain its goals and programs in foreign policy and not try to rule over the heads of the public.

Dead right. And, unfortunately, the lesson that Bush & Co plainly did not take in before the invasion of Iraq, and have even failed to learn now.

Sebastian -
The quoted text presents the left as overreaching for its part in believing that they have been "granted a veto against any and every war." The quoted text presents as reasonable and rational the right's belief that "whenever the nation embarked upon a war, protests would cease, and the nation would come together to 'support the troops.'"

Both of these positions are equally insane, and equally based upon false premises:
1) The left's position is based on the assumption that no war is ever justified, and that opposition to war is merely opposition to violence, rather than, in a limited but real sense, opposition to the stated objective of the war.

2) The right's position is based upon the assumption that all war is made just by the fact that Americans are fighting it, and to attack a political decision to go to war is to attack the troops fighting it, or America itself.

Both of these assumptions are dangerously wrongheaded, and your use of this quote, justifying a smack at Kerry for pandering to "Anti-Americans," just throws into relief how one-sided your view of this question really is.

mc masterchef: you may be a young whippersnapper, but (speaking as someone who was a kid during the 60s, but a curious kid who was interested in politics even then) I think you've got it right. No one has ever suggested that if Susan Sarandon and Michael Moore (or any two analogous people on the right) oppose a war, it should not be fought. Nor do most of us on the left think that our protests stopped the war. What I and most of the liberals I know do think is: first, as mc masterchef says, when the government does not explain itself forthrightly at the outset, and when the reasons for going to war are not really obvious (as they were in, say, WW2 or the Civil War or Afghanistan), people will eventually start to ask: what on earth are we doing here? And is it worth the cost in the lives of our sons and daughters, not to mention civilians in the country we're at war in? When this happens, there had better be a very good answer; if there isn't, real divisions in the country will probably follow. And these divisions will not be the sort that attend, say, disagreements about social security reform; those who support the war will at least be tempted to think that those who oppose it do not support their country or the troops, while those who oppose it will be tempted to think that those who support it are willing to send young people off to die, and to kill, without having bothered to really think things through. And this will make the divisions in the country deeper, and potentially more poisonous, than normal disagreements. This is, we think, a predictable consequence of undertaking a war without a clear rationale that is clearly explained at the outset, and we think it should not be taken lightly, since one of the lessons we take from the 60s is: deep and poisonous divisions in the country do more damage, and take longer to get over, than one would think.

Moreover, I and most of the liberals I know also think that the need to explain oneself to the people is a good check on an administration. If you can't generate real support for a war by being forthright, one explanation is that the citizenry is composed of idiots. Another, however, is that the case for war isn't as strong as it seems to you. We tend to favor the second, and so we think that it is a good thing to make sure that a war has broad (not unanimous) support at the outset.

However, and here I will just speak for myself, leaving the cumbersome 'I and most of the liberals I know' aside, I think that this is not an absolute requirement. There are situations in which the need to go to war is so compelling that the government can proceed in the absence of popular support. (Here is where Washington and Lincoln come in.) In practice, these situations are exactly the ones in which there is most likely to be popular support, but they are also the ones in which acting without it would be most justifiable. But Vietnam does not strike me as being one of these cases. All the adults I talked to at the time were quite clear that the South Vietnamese government was better than the government in the north, and that for that reason, if they had been able to protect South Vietnam from any northern influence by waving a magic wand, they would have waved it. But of course the question was not, is the South Vietnamese government better than the North Vietnamese government, or than the government Vietnam would have if we lost, but: is it better by enough of a margin that the cost to ourselves and to the Vietnamese of fighting this war is worth it? To a lot of people, the answer seemed to be: No. The South Vietnamese government was corrupt, brutal, and not exactly a poster child for popular legitimacy. The people we were supposedly fighting for were not thrilled by our presence, and their army was not exactly eager to fight for what was supposed to be "their" cause. Being better than the government of North Vietnam is a pretty low bar, and while the South Vietnamese government cleared it, it didn't seem to do so by nearly enough to make the deaths, the destruction of a country, etc. worth it. Nor did we seem to have any compelling national interest there. -- There are, on my view, circumstances in which fighting a war without popular support would be OK. (A President who thought we were in such circumstances should, according to me, have the guts to say that this is what he is doing, and be prepared to be defeated in the next election if he cannot bring the voters around.) Lincoln was in such circumstances. (I omit Washington since if independence from Great Britain had not had widespread support, it's not clear that the American Revolution would have been justified. I mean: would Washington have been right to fight if most of his countrymen had wanted to be British subjects?) But Kennedy and Johnson were not.

Lastly, I don't know any liberal who thinks of the need to respect the troops as some sort of tactical concession. (I am sure that there are some people who think this; there are wrongheaded people on all sides of every issue. But I would be amazed if they were anywhere near a majority.) At the time, I was mystified by the fact that anyone held the troops responsible (except when there was some specific reason to think that a particular soldier had done something wrong.) It seemed obvious to ten year old me that it wasn't the troops who should be blamed for the war, but the people who had sent them. It was easy for me to think this, since most of the adults around me took this for granted. But obviously there were altogether too many people on the left who did hold them responsible, and too few of those who did not really spoke out against this. Everyone I know who was around at the time thinks that this was a profound mistake -- not a tactical mistake, but a moral one, which caused real and serious pain to people who did not deserve it. Even those of us who did not participate in it recognize that this was just wrong, and have resolved never again to confuse opposition to a war with opposition to the kids who are sent off to fight in it. This is a lesson we have learned, not a tactical concession we have cleverly decided to make for public relations purposes.

The author suggests that Kerry broke this truce on the interpretation of the Vietnam war by, typically for Kerry, trying to have it both ways depending on the audience.

Interesting.

Why did Kerry put on his war hero hat before a crowd of liberal activists, most of whom opposed the Great Iraqi Adventure?

As a citizen maybe Kerry felt he was doing his duty by volunteering to fight for his country in a time of war.
And, as a citizen maybe he felt he was doing his duty by protesting what he felt were unjust American policies when he returned from that war.

Conflict?
I hope all Americans feel both of those responsabilities.

please excuse typo above: "responsibilities"

Hilzoy,
"Lastly, I don't know any liberal who thinks of the need to respect the troops as some sort of tactical concession."

I think one of the lasting lessons the American people learned from Viet Nam is exactly what you are stating. War protesters directed their anger at the soldiers of that conflict. It was a national shame of misplaced anger. I think and hope we have evolved in our understanding of the role of the soldier vs. the policy maker who guides their actions.

"The quoted text presents the left as overreaching for its part in believing that they have been "granted a veto against any and every war." The quoted text presents as reasonable and rational the right's belief that "whenever the nation embarked upon a war, protests would cease, and the nation would come together to 'support the troops.'"

Both of these positions are equally insane, and equally based upon false premises: "

To echo my sentiments from a recent discussion, a set of political parameters doesn't always make logical sense. I'm not at all sure that Adeimantus is asserting that the political truce had particularly logical underpinnings. If anything he describes a number of reasons why the US polity has not closely examined Vietnam and has not come to a general understanding of what happened. It is perfectly possible that both sides learned completely wrong and illogical 'lessons' from the Vietnam war.

Hilzoy, I agree that the left ought to have learned a lesson about supporting the troops, but I don't think you are correct that the lesson was actually learned. I live in San Diego and have a large number of military friends. All of them, every single one, complains of constantly being harassed about murdering people in Iraq. Ted Rall's treatment of Tilman was awful, yet he still gets published all over the place, and is touting a brand new (and successful) book. I'm not convinced that the left has learned any such lesson in that the more respectable parts of the left still embrace those who demonize the troops.

" the more respectable parts of the left still embrace those who demonize the troops."

Darn, I was so hoping that my attempts to become respectable had finally paid off...

I'm not convinced that the left has learned any such lesson in that the more respectable parts of the left still embrace those who demonize the troops.

Surely not all of them, Sebastian. I'll bet Lieberman doesn't.

Ted Rall is America. And all democrats too.

Sebastian you have got to be kidding. One intentionally controversial and semi-obscure cartoonist (judging by the placement of his cartoons in the alternative alternative weekly paper - ie. not the successful alternative paper - in my town. And, his lack of name recognition among non-political types.) and his limited success is your proof that democrats can't differentiate between soldier and policy maker?

Under your example I guess best selling author Jerome Corsi speaks for all republicans.
Hope you're proud.

Surely not all of them, Sebastian. I'll bet Lieberman doesn't.

Is Lieberman "the Left"? With his lifetime ADA rating of 76, I'd call him a moderate.

Idle thought: is Ted Rall read by more on the left or right?

"Why did Kerry put on his war hero hat before a crowd of liberal activists, most of whom opposed the Great Iraqi Adventure?"

I presume you are aware that conventions are intended to be televised?

Carsick I think it is clear that I used Rall as a supporting point not as a keynote. I suspect you will find that if for your purposes the clause containing Ted Rall's name vanishes from my post, it doesn't hurt things.

I also note that you had no trouble identifying Ted Rall.

I also note that the Tillman slam was most specifically NOT limited just to Ted Rall. In our community see also the dKos controversy. And for many of those on the left who balked at going to Rall's extreme in that case it was explained in the 'raises important points' rubric.

I further note that I have personally seen the derision aimed at active-duty soldiers (as reported above) and have had further such acts reported to me on a regular basis by my large group of military friends and acquaintances. Dismiss it as anecdotal if you want, but 'Ted Rall' was not the whole of what I presented. He is merely a particularly vicious and illustrative example.

I personally know black people who have been harrassed for the color of their skin. Their harrassers may vote democratic but I doubt it. So if their harrassers vote republican can I assume the republican party is the racially harrassing party?

There were widespread reports of returning Vietnam veterans being spat on by peace protesters. None of these reports could be proved to be true: there was never any evidence that such a thing had ever happened.

The only time Vietnam veterans were undoubtedly spat upon was when the VAW group attended a Republican convention, whereupon some of the Republican delegates spat on the veterans who were protesting the war. (A kind of SBVFT in minature, in fact.)

I have a friend who is currently on leave from Iraq. She hasn't mentioned any hostility towards her: her worst problem at the moment is that her 15-year-old cat went missing two days before she got home. Anecdotal evidence? Sure. But that's all Sebastian seems to have, too.

Sebastian: I agree that the left ought to have learned a lesson about supporting the troops, but I don't think you are correct that the lesson was actually learned.

Given that the SwiftBoatVets have such close ties to the Bush/Cheney campaign, and the SBVs modus operandi is to smear all Vietnam veterans in order to get at one, it would appear that the Bush/Cheney campaign hasn't learned that lesson either. Nor, it seems, have you. If you claim to support the troops, if you claim to believe that Vietnam veterans deserve respect, why on earth defend a political attack group whose purpose is to attack a Vietnam veteran?

What an incredible disconnect! Sebastian, when a substantial (ie well over 33%) of americans oppose the war, it's time to start asking hard questions of the leadership, or we are no longer a representative democracy. Your original post, and your thread comments, are infused with the idea that the opponents of both the Vietnam and Iraq war somehow count less as Americans. I profoundly disagree.

And since the moderate Right has spoken out so often about the lack of mainstream Muslim voices opposing radical Islam, here's turnabout for you: the moderate left is now requesting that the mainstream soldier each individually justify the appalling conduct of Abu Ghraib. Payback's a bitch, ain't it? Both sides, in my view, are wrong. But the desire for explanation, admission, confession runs deep in the american spirit. The right uses it often enough, now you're seeing how unpleasant it is to be on the receiving end.

I'd draw a different conclusion, equally illogical, from the excerpted post: Bush, not Kerry, broke the truce. He wanted to wrap himself in the mantle of American imperialism, despite a lack of personal experience or professional understanding of the risks involved. And now that his dream of Muslims around the world accepting american dominance, american liberalism, and american values is collapsing, true to form he seeks to blame internal dissent.

As usual, Bush confuses cause with effect. Widespread American dissent arises when two American soldiers DIE EVERY SINGLE DAY on average with no adequate explanation of why they're there, or when they're coming home. Neither Susan Sarandon nor Michael Moore nor Ted Rall are responsible for the effective resistance of Afghanis and Iraqis to american imperialism. They are nothing more than high-profile representatives of a profound dissatisfaction with the administration's foreign policy.

Who's the truce-breaker? I think you gotta point the finger at the guy who's responsible for sending the troops overseas.

cheers
Francis

By the way, another O'Neil point loses the wind in it's sails due to the official record.

"O'Neill said no one could cross the border by river and he claimed in an audio tape that his publicist played to CNN that he, himself, had never been to Cambodia either. But in 1971, O'Neill said precisely the opposite to then President Richard Nixon.

O'NEILL: I was in Cambodia, sir. I worked along the border on the water.

NIXON: In a swift boat?

O'NEILL: Yes, sir."

Sebastian wrote: "the more respectable parts of the left still embrace those who demonize the troops."

I have no doubt that Sebastian's reports are true, and thus that there are some people on the left who do demonize the troops. Likewise, I have no doubt that some people on the right agree with Jerome Corsi's comments on Free Republic. This just goes to show that, as I've said before, there are jerks on all sides of the political spectrum. It does not show that Sebastian's claim is true, any more than my claim about the right shows that the more respectable parts of the right embrace those who say that "boy buggering in both Islam and Catholicism is okay with the Pope as long as it isn't reported by the liberal press", or "Anybody ask why HELLary couldn't keep BJ Bill satisfied? Not lesbo or anything, is she?"

What would show that are examples of respectable liberals embracing people who demonize the troops. I don't claim to know what all respectable liberals think, or even who they are; this is, of course, why I am forever talking about 'I and the liberals I know', not liberals generally. But I do think I have some idea of what goes on on the left, and based on this idea (which is, of course, open to correction), I will say: I would be surprised if any significant number of either mainstream liberals or "respectable" liberals thought it was OK to demonize the troops.

Eek! Sorry!

"I personally know black people who have been harrassed for the color of their skin. Their harrassers may vote democratic but I doubt it. So if their harrassers vote republican can I assume the republican party is the racially harrassing party?"

First, we should establish that you do not already assume that the republican party is the racially harassing party. Do you already assume that?

Second, we should establish why you doubt that the harrassers vote democratic? Why would you believe that? Do you believe that racism has a vanishingly small presence in the Democratic Party?

Third, we should establish that this doubt is as strong as a parallel doubt about the political leanings of those in my examples. Are they really parallel?

As for the border, testimony isn't needed on the location of the border. That can be determined by consulting maps. Also I googled your quote and couldn't find it. Where did you get it?

Hilzoy, you may be correct. We can often identify dynamics in our own parties that are far different from how they are perceived from the outside. For example I am confident that the Christian Right was far more powerful in the late 1980s within the Republican Party than it is now--but that seems to go against the common perception of liberals in the US. I say that as someone who is still in the Republican party, and as someone who in my pre-gay years was part of the Christian Right. The Christian Right organized in direct response to Roe v. Wade and gathered power through the 1970s and early 1980s. Its power had already peaked within the party before Robertson's run for President in 1988.

(Opposition to gay marriage is not a counterexample. Sad as it may be, such opposition is far broader in the US than the Christian Right ever was.)

So for the moment I will defer the question of whether the left has learned the lesson regarding demonizing the troops, or if it was just part of a political stalemate. The question is likely to be answered more definitely in the next few years as we are forced to deal with Islamists in Iraq and elsewhere.

We should establish that you made comments using a wide number of ASSUMPTIONS to condemn democrats for their behaviour to your military friends. Did the folks who said disparaging things to your military friends have "I am a democrat" buttons on or something?
I followed suite to show you the error of your ASSUMPTIONS. Both cases (mine and yours)are a result of folks being identified by something visual so I'm making the analogy on that basis.
You turn around and accuse me? Ha ha ha

Border comment by O'Neill?
http://www.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0408/24/asb.00.html

scan down about a quarter of the page. It's caught on video.

Sebastian,

Here is the link to the transcript from last night’s CNN News Night:

The co-author of the book "Unfit for Command," former swift boat commander John O'Neill said Kerry made up a story about being in Cambodia beyond the legal borders of the Vietnam War in 1968.

O'Neill said no one could cross the border by river and he claimed in an audio tape that his publicist played to CNN that he, himself, had never been to Cambodia either. But in 1971, O'Neill said precisely the opposite to then President Richard Nixon.

O'NEILL: I was in Cambodia, sir. I worked along the border on the water.

NIXON: In a swift boat?

O'NEILL: Yes, sir.

Note that nothing in the transcript provides anything to resuscitate Kerry’s previous story that he was in Cambodia in 1968. Moreover the transcript fails to (a) provide any direct quotation from O’Neill stating that he had never been to Cambodia and (b) we don’t know the context of O’Neill’s remarks to then President Nixon. Mr. O’Neill’s comments that he was “in Cambodia” seems to be confined to having “worked along the [Cambodian] border on the water” as opposed to trying to regale President Nixon with stories of how he ran supposedly stealth missions of CIA agents deep into Cambodian territory.

Hilzoy, you may be correct. We can often identify dynamics in our own parties that are far different from how they are perceived from the outside. For example I am confident that the Christian Right was far more powerful in the late 1980s within the Republican Party than it is now--but that seems to go against the common perception of liberals in the US. I say that as someone who is still in the Republican party, and as someone who in my pre-gay years was part of the Christian Right. The Christian Right organized in direct response to Roe v. Wade and gathered power through the 1970s and early 1980s. Its power had already peaked within the party before Robertson's run for President in 1988.

(Opposition to gay marriage is not a counterexample. Sad as it may be, such opposition is far broader in the US than the Christian Right ever was.)

thorley
What about this claim by O'Neill?
“By claiming we were engaged in a war crime and crossing international borders, John Kerry damaged the credibility of all the commanding officers above him and insulted the sailors who served with him,” said John O’Neill, member of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.”

O'Neill was asked 'were you in Cambodia?' He could have answered 'no sir but I was near the border'.

Carsick wrote:

What about this claim by O'Neill?

Here’s a link to the full claim by O’Neill:

Commenting on the "clarification," O'Neil, author of Unfit for Command, said, "John Kerry describes Christmas Eve in Cambodia as a critical turning point in his life. We now know that his story is completely false. My question is how many people do you know have invented a turning point, one that is seared in his memory?"


"By claiming we were engaged in a war crime and crossing international borders, John Kerry damaged the credibility of all the commanding officers above him and insulted the sailors who served with him," O'Neil added.


The only thing O’Neill is claiming is that they weren’t in Cambodia in Christmas Eve of 1968 which Kerry previously claimed and has pretty much had to back away from.

O'Neill was asked 'were you in Cambodia?' He could have answered 'no sir but I was near the border'

Unless you have a link to another (preferably more complete) transcript, we don’t know what O’Neill was asked by President Nixon and as I said earlier his comments that he was “in Cambodia” seems to be confined to having “worked along the [Cambodian] border on the water” rather than Kerry’s more colorful and (apparently) fictitious accounts of stealth missions via swift boat.


It's astounding how right you can be when you dramatically revise history, redefine the terms, construct false dichotomies, weave anecdotes into data, and confuse arguments and conclusions.

I'm not sure what it buys you, but wow. . you sure get to be right.

Thorley
My old office was on the border of Kentucky. No one. Absolutely no one referred to my office as being IN Kentucky.
Interesting that O'Neill would use such a phrasing when meeting with the president of the United States.
Are you next going to come back and say, " He was possibly nervous meeting the president and misspoke due to that nervousness"?


"Here's what you said: "Kerry was never in Cambodia during Christmas 1968"--and now [the Kerry campaign] has been trying to change this and say it was in January or something like that. But you say:

"or at all during the Vietnam War."

"You're saying he was never in Cambodia, and then you say that all the living commanders in Kerry's chain of command--you spell them all out--deny that Kerry was ever ordered to Cambodia. You still stick by that?

O' NEILL: Oh, absolutely..."

http://www.humaneventsonline.com/article.php?id=4803


By the way, there are many books describing clandestine American missions into Cambodia. Are you prepared to deny all of them too?

I would like to take this opportunity to recommend William Shawcross' excellent Sideshow.

Praktike
Perfect timing for a spot on recommendation.

Thorley,

Give it up. O'Neill has been saying no Swift Boats were ever in Cambodia. Turns out he was on one. One more lie.

By the way, for more anti-Swiftie evidence take a look at:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5818634/

As this sort of thing piles up I am beginning to think that there is not a single Republican with the combination of brains and courage to state the obvious - that this whole SBV thing is a total fabrication.

Carsick. Kerry doesn't even claim to have been in Cambodia on Christmas Eve anymore.

Sebastian, this kind of sophistry is unlike you. At the time of the Iraq invasion, the support for going in was very lukewarm indeed. The active opposition was in the millions. But the passive opposition was very high too: popularity polls for going in were 75% in favor with UN support; 45% in favor without. This is not Susan Sarandon vetoing the war, by a long shot. That 45% is presumably the same 45% who are still solidly pro-Bush.

Then you compound the sophistry with a comment like "I notice you have no trouble identifying Ted Rall". Well, yes. I would never have heard of Ted Rall if he weren't the poster-boy for proof that anti-war activists are assholes. It's exactly the same straw-man tactic. Rall is published in the Village Voice and a few free alternative newspapers. I'd never even noticed his work in the Seattle Stranger, and they don't get more offensively alternative than that. But suddenly all blog-readers recognise Rall's name ... and the only place we've ever seen his work is in links from conservative bloggers!

So thanks sebastian for your invaluable contribution to the War On Straw.


Kerry may have participated around Christmas time and not exactly on Christmas eve. It isn't like he had a lot of reminders like family sitting around the hearth making ornaments.
If you want to hang him for being a week or two off on a specific date then let's ask the president just how many DUI's he actually had. And just why did he never get his flight qualifying physical. And why the press shouldn't expect answers when they ask about the 'mistakes' he's 'learned from'.

"If you want to hang him for being a week or two off on a specific date..." He hasn't told us what the real date was, so we can't really judge that can we? He hasn't even confirmed since the story came out that he definitely was in Cambodia at any time. So I suspect it is a bit premature for you to suggest that I'm hanging him for being a few days off.

And if you don't think soldiers typically know what day Christmas Eve is on the battlefield, you don't know much about soldiers.

Already two links to Bush's re-election campaign have resigned and nearly every single assertion in "Unfit" has been debunked by mainstream press.
If Kerry's lazy memory or story telling embellishment (the point of his original story, by the way, was that the US was denying we were in Cambodia at all) is enough to get you to not vote for him (as if!) then feel free.
It is unusual that you see that as a major character issue when the current president has a number of less flattering and more recent areas of his life that he won't even talk about.

This one's not so recent but still a mystery to me considering his refusal to take the flight physical:

"As I understand it, the current form asks the question, ‘Did somebody use drugs within the last seven years?’ and I will be glad to answer that question, and the answer is no." Thursday morning in Virginia, Bush said, "Not only could I have passed in today's White House, I could have passed the standards applied under the most stringent conditions when my dad was president, a 15-year period."

Hmmm.

Carsick wrote:

Interesting that O'Neill would use such a phrasing when meeting with the president of the United States.

Again we don’t know what the circumstances were of the meeting of which we have three whopping lines with zero context. Provide a full(er) transcript so that we know what was said before and after, and then we’ll have something interesting.

Are you next going to come back and say, " He was possibly nervous meeting the president and misspoke due to that nervousness"?

Actually that’s probably a pretty plausible explanation, and consistent with what Elliot said in his recent interview on Hannity and Colmes:

COLMES: You said to Richard Nixon, "I was in Cambodia, sir."

HANNITY: On the border.

COLMES: There's a tape of you saying that to Richard Nixon.

O'NEILL: What's the next sentence? I was along the Cambodian border. That's exactly right. What I told Nixon and was trying to tell him in this meeting was I was along the Cambodian border. As Sean clearly read...

COLMES: "I was in Cambodia," Those are your words.

O'NEILL: Yes, but you missed the next sentence. You're not reading the next sentence, Alan.

COLMES: Yes, along the border. But you're in Cambodia or you're not in Cambodia.

O'NEILL: Well, I'm sorry, Alan. I was talking in a conversation. And the first thing, by the way, I told him in the conversation, as you know, was that I was a Democrat and I voted for Hubert Humphrey.

This seems to mesh with what I wrote earlier that O’Neill misspoke and said “in Cambodia” when he meant that he “worked along the [Cambodian] border on the water” which is consistent with pretty much everything he’s said since then. A misstatement in a conversation is hardly comparable to stating something that you know or ought to know is untrue on some twenty (perhaps fifty but I’ll be conservative here) occasions including on the floor of the United States Senate or in your own formal writing. Try again.


Oh and BTW the link you provided went to a column by Pat Buchanan and had nothing to do with the supposed quotes you pulled up from O’Neill. Given that this is a rather casual forum, we’ll assume it was just an inadvertent error rather than a deliberate attempt at deception.

Bernard Yomtov wrote:

Give it up. O'Neill has been saying no Swift Boats were ever in Cambodia.

Really, please provide evidence showing that O’Neill made the claim that no Swift Boats were ever in Cambodia.

The AP agrees with Bernard: 'Swift Boat Writer Lied on Cambodia Claim'. There's also this exchange.

Media Matters has quotes:

"From Unfit for Command: Kerry was never in Cambodia during Christmas 1968, or at all during the Vietnam War. ... Areas closer than 55 miles from the Cambodian border in the area of the Mekong River were patrolled by PBRs, a small river patrol craft, and not by Swift Boats. Preventing border crossings was considered so important at the time that an LCU (a large, mechanized landing craft) and several PBRs were stationed to ensure that no one could cross the border. [pp. 47-48]"

"O'Neill on ABC's This Week With George Stephanopoulos: How do I know he's [Kerry] not in Cambodia? I was on the same river, George. I was there two months after him. Our patrol area ran to Sedek, it was 50 miles from Cambodia. There isn't any watery border. The Mekong River's like the Mississippi. There were gunboats stationed right up there to stop people from coming. And our boats didn't go north of, only slightly north of Sedek. So it was a made-up story. [8/22]"

From 1971: "O'NEILL: I was in Cambodia, sir. I worked along the border on the water.

NIXON: In a swift boat?

O'NEILL: Yes, sir.""

And about the 'nervousness': note that what O'Neill originally said was that neither he nor anyone else in a Swift Boat had been closer than about fifty miles from the border. His new explanation is that he was on the border with Cambodia, not actually in Cambodia. This still flatly contradicts what he said earlier.

hilzoy, for the sake of completeness: could O'Neill have been in Cambodia at a time later than the period during which it would supposedly have been impossible for Swift Boats to be there, or at a different place?

"Is Lieberman "the Left"? With his lifetime ADA rating of 76, I'd call him a moderate."

Um, what?

As this sort of thing piles up I am beginning to think that there is not a single Republican with the combination of brains and courage to state the obvious - that this whole SBV thing is a total fabrication.

Hilary Bok,

You realize of course that not a single one of the quotes you cribbed from Media Matters amounts to O’Neill making the claim that no Swift Boats (as opposed to just those in his group) were ever in Cambodia.

"From Unfit for Command: Kerry was never in Cambodia during Christmas 1968, or at all during the Vietnam War. ... Areas closer than 55 miles from the Cambodian border in the area of the Mekong River were patrolled by PBRs, a small river patrol craft, and not by Swift Boats. Preventing border crossings was considered so important at the time that an LCU (a large, mechanized landing craft) and several PBRs were stationed to ensure that no one could cross the border. [pp. 47-48]"

Here O’Neill has said that it was PBRs rather than Swift Boats which were responsible for patrolling within 55 miles of the Cambodian border and that they and the LCU were stationed there to prevent border crossings.

"O'Neill on ABC's This Week With George Stephanopoulos: How do I know he's [Kerry] not in Cambodia? I was on the same river, George. I was there two months after him. Our patrol area ran to Sedek, it was 50 miles from Cambodia. There isn't any watery border. The Mekong River's like the Mississippi. There were gunboats stationed right up there to stop people from coming. And our boats didn't go north of, only slightly north of Sedek. So it was a made-up story. [8/22]"

In this case “our boats” clearly refers to “our patrol” which means that he is merely claiming that his patrol only went slightly north of Sedek. The burden is on Kerry apologists on this forum to provide evidence that this wasn’t the case and that Kerry actually did make his mythical forays into Cambodia. Keeping in mind though that the Kerry camp has already retreated on this and we’ve gone from his oft-repeated "Christmas in Cambodia" ala "Apocalypse Now" to maybe he did yet no one else has come forth to corroborate his latest version.


Please feel free to try again.

Thorley
O'Neill has a specific story he wants to tell and many of it's details don't seem to match with what actually happened - unfortunately some of what actually happened was recorded at or near the time of the actual events doesn't mesh with his story - so O'Neill is forced into the position of coming up with semi-plausible excuses time and time again.
You don't have kids do you?
Credibility is not earned when you continually hear "Yes but..." "Okay but..." "I know I said that but I meant..."

"Yes but..."

In an interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday, O'Neill did not dispute what he said to Nixon, but insisted he was never actually in Cambodia.
"I think I made it very clear that I was on the border, which is exactly where I was for three months. I was about 100 yards from Cambodia," O'Neill said in clarifying the June 16, 1971, conversation with Nixon.


Oh, well that makes it perfe-

In an interview Sunday on ABC's "This Week" O'Neill said: "Our boats didn't go north of, only slightly north of Sedek," which he said was about 50 miles from the Cambodian border.


And about that watery border he keeps denying...

http://www.nexus.net/~911gfx/vietnam/maps/nc48-06/nc48_06c.html

The dashed blue lines represent marsh and related.

Thorley,

Why do you feel the need to address people by their full name instead of their handle? That behavior is pretentious and bad netiquette, and I fail to see how it advances your argument at all.

I think an apology is in order, Thorley.

let these swift boat vets know what you think:

[home addresses/phone nubmers deleted] -Ed

Okay, elmerfudd, you've managed to show Thorley up in the slimy breaches of etiquette department.

Yeah, that should probably be deleted.

Hey, two of those guys live right near me.

Never trust anyone from Richland, WA. The whole tri-cities area is pretty shadowy.

Thorley does indeed have an irritating habit (one that he's been warned about before, in the bygone Katherine days), but that doesn't justify posting personal info. Nor does it justify naming a town 'Flower Mound'.

Flower Mound has got to be better than
http://blueballpa.usl.myareaguide.com/

Of course Blue Ball, PA and Blue Ball, Ohio are probably better hometowns for someone like Ralph Reed or Bill Bennet and not Swift Boat Veterans.

"Of course Blue Ball, PA and Blue Ball, Ohio are probably better hometowns for someone like Ralph Reed or Bill Bennet and not Swift Boat Veterans."

You're thinking of the boring, old Bill Bennett. The new Bill Bennett is a party animal! Do as he says, not as he does, baby!

[home addresses/phone nubmers deleted] -Ed

er, that should be "numbers"...I'm too lazy to log back in and correct it.

Please do NOT post people's contact information, or real names, on this site. It's not polite.

I'm just surprised he (or she, or it) bothered to find out my not particularly well concealed name. It's not a big deal, but given the choice I do like to keep my professional and blogging identities separate.

I got it (I got it)
I got it
I got your number on the wall
I got it (I got it)
I got it
For a good time
For a good time call

*Instrumental Break*
(HEY!)

Chorus

Jenny, Jenny, who can I turn to?
(867-5309)
On the bright side,
I can always turn to you
*Repeat Until Fade*
(867-5309)
867-5309
(867-5309)

Personally if the idea here is to exchange ideas then I have a hard time understanding why we don't just let those ideas stand for themselves. Nothing seems to be gained by knowing someone's name, address, etc.

But if you have Jenny's NEW number and area code...

Nor does it justify naming a town 'Flower Mound'.

And did you notice before they were deleted by Ed ( btw, was that "Ed" short for Edward or Editor?) that the fellow lived on something something Wildflower Lane? I felt compelled to pull up the town on Mapquest just to see if all of its streets were named after different flowers. Alas, most were decidedly non-floral. I had been picturing something along the lines of a Saturday morning cartoon where all the characters were bugs and this "town" was just a hillock in a meadow.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Blog powered by Typepad