Friday, August 20, 2004

Kerry's Vietnam moments: fact and fiction

William Kristol writes that John Kerry is a creature of the anti-Vietnam war movement and he's trying to hide that fact from the voters.
[John Kerry] is entitled to ask us to place weight on the testimony of the band of brothers with whom he served in Vietnam. But he has a problem. A substantial number of Kerry's band of brothers--those who served in close quarters with him in Coastal Division 11 and Coastal Division 14 from late November 1968 to March 1969--oppose his candidacy for the presidency. What they "learned as soldiers" has led them to distrust--in many cases, deeply to distrust--John Kerry.
And Matthew Continetti writes that John Kerry wanted his "Vietnam years" to be the central debating point of his campaign for President and, thanks to a group of Swift Boat Veterans, it will be.
The Anti-Kerry Swiftees were in Washington last week, attending planning sessions and break-out panels at the Key Bridge Marriott, across the Potomac river from Washington's Georgetown neighborhood. They are middle-aged men now, their hair gray or absent, their paunches established, their combat fatigues replaced with golf shirts and khakis. Most are from the Midwest. Politically, they range from conservative Democrat to conservative Republican to independent-minded Perotista. In fact, most dislike politics altogether. "This is not about politics," one of the veterans, a 61-year-old man from Montgomery, Texas, named Jack Chenoweth told me. "This is about telling the truth." Van Odell, who in 1969 was Jack Chenoweth's gunner, said the anti-Kerry vets were making progress. "I feel optimistic," Odell said. "I felt when we started this thing we'd be a one-day news story. But we're still here."