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May 4, 2004
Canelos to Kerry: Exploit Vietnam Vets Now, Not Later

Peter S. Canelos must have missed reading the news yesterday, which can be the only explanation for his column in the Boston Globe this morning. Canelos wonders what happened to John Kerry's "band of brothers," a tiresome phrase that has gone from Shakespearean to sappy in the space of a few months. The BoB haven't made an appearance since Kerry clinched the nomination, and Canelos exhorts Kerry to bring them back now:

The mute testimony of the veterans ennobled Kerry, shining more light on his character than the loyal gazes of Nancy Reagan or Laura Bush could ever confer on their men. Kerry seemed to grow more formidable, and his sudden surge to the nomination coincided with the veterans' arrival at his side.

Now, Kerry mostly campaigns alone, with aides, local politicians, and a cranky, sleep-deprived press corps as his entourage. His much-decorated service in the Vietnam War has become a dry fact on his rsum, something to be parsed and debated. The mystical bond with others who've seen combat is no longer palpable. It's vanished into the political haze.

The Band of Brothers aren't gone for good, of course. Expect to see them at the Democratic convention and, for sure, in the last few weeks of the campaign. In all of his toughest campaigns -- 1984, 1996, and this year's primaries -- Kerry has brought the veterans in for a closing rush, like the New York Yankees turning the ball over to Mariano Rivera. And late surges pushed Kerry over the top in all those races.

But this time, he needs their help sooner _ a fact at least partly reflected in his campaign's decision, announced yesterday, to run new ads stressing Kerry's life story, and drawing in part on the accounts of his crewmates.

Canelos somehow missed the story yesterday where not just a mere band of Kerry's brothers in arms, but an entire fleet of them have "banded" together to declare Kerry unfit for the presidency. What's particularly striking about the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth is the composition of the group -- 19 of 23 officers with whom Kerry served, and every commanding officer under which he served, are signatories to their declaration, which will be released today at a press conference:

Hundreds of former commanders and military colleagues of presumptive Democratic nominee John Kerry are set to declare in a signed letter that he is "unfit to be commander-in-chief." They will do so at a press conference in Washington on Tuesday.

"What is going to happen on Tuesday is an event that is really historical in dimension," John O'Neill, a Vietnam veteran who served in the Navy as a PCF (Patrol Craft Fast) boat commander, told . The event, which is expected to draw about 25 of the letter-signers, is being organized by a newly formed group called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.

Canelos fails to mention this in his strategic advice for the Kerry campaign, making one wonder whether he simply missed this story or whether he ignored it. Either way, his description of veteran appearances at Kerry rallies, including the tiresome Max Cleland and the lie about besmirching his patriotism that every left-leaning columnist must regurgitate, should resonate in stories about the SBVT press conference today:

At each campaign stop, they were joined by other Vietnam veterans, including hundreds from Massachusetts, their faces etched with wisdom culled from battlefield horrors and the special pain of having suffered in a war that divided the country.

As John O'Neill and his band of brothers intend on reminding people today, John Kerry personally caused a great deal of that "special pain" himself by launching his political career on their reputations. John Kerry's testimony encapsulates the type of activity that divided the nation, not so much about the politics of the war, but about the easy, breezy way the radical left painted the servicemen as evil war criminals and the US government as war profiteers. In fact, you can hear strong echoes in war protests today, from the incessant allegations from Kerry himself in lies about Dick Cheney's alleged war profiteering to Ted Rall's despicable cartoons calling the late Pat Tillman a sap, a dupe, and implying that he also was a war criminal.

Peter Canelos invokes the pain while never acknowledging the agent of that pain, and encourages John Kerry to exploit the Vietnam veterans that he once broadly slandered as murderers, rapists, and drug addicts, all in order to win the presidency for the Democrats. In the same breath, Canelos ignores those veterans who refuse to stand by while the man who unfairly fouled their reputations for a generation attempts to use them once again as a stepping-stone for his political career. Canelos' cynicism and hypocrisy unfortunately only find their match in the Kerry presidential campaign.

Addendum: John O'Neill writes his own column in today's

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at May 4, 2004 5:53 AM

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