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August 11, 2004
Christmas In Cambodia, Part VII: The Inevitable Flip-Flop

Unsurprisingly, the Swiftvets' attack on John Kerry's credibility scored its first direct hit even before their book Unfit For Command has been released to the general public, and the Kerry campaign has been forced into its usual strategy -- yet another flip-flop. Human Events Online notes the transcript from today's Fox and Friends, in which Kerry's advisor Jeh Johnson beats a hasty retreat from both Cambodia and the Swiftvets.

First, here's what John Kerry told the Boston Herald in a letter dated October 14, 1979, and reproduced by the Swiftvets in their book:

I remember spending Christmas Eve of 1968 five miles across the Cambodian border being shot at by our South Vietnamese allies who were drunk and celebrating Christmas. The absurdity of almost being killed by our own allies in a country in which President Nixon claimed there were no American troops was very real.

As discussed earlier, Nixon wasn't president in 1968, he was president-elect, and he wouldn't have been on the radio discussing troop deployments over which he had no control and probably little information that wasn't already public. No matter; by the time Kerry spoke about this seminal event in his life to the Senate in 1986 in order to argue against assisting the Nicaraguan contras against the Sandanista junta, he'd dropped the Nixon reference and made it more generic (Congressional Record, March 27, 1986, page S3594):

I remember Christmas of 1968 sitting on a gunboat in Cambodia. I remember what is was like to be shot at by Vietnamese and Khme[r] Rouge and Cambodians, and have the President of the United States telling the American people that I was not there; The troops were not in CambodiaI have that memory which is seared--seared--in me....

Now the campaign has this to say about that seared-in memory:

JOHNSON: John Kerry has said on the record that he had a mistaken recollection earlier. He talked about a combat situation on Christmas Eve 1968 which at one point he said occurred in Cambodia. He has since corrected the recorded to say it was some place on a river near Cambodia and he is certain that at some point subsequent to that he was in Cambodia. My understanding is that he is not certain about that date.

[BRIAN] KILMEADE [co-host]: I think the term was he had a searing memory of spending Christmas - back in 1986 in the senate floor in Cambodia.

JOHNSON: I believe he has corrected the record to say it was some place near Cambodia he is not certain whether it was in Cambodia but he is certain there was some point subsequent to that that he was in Cambodia.

This is, of course, complete crap. For thirty years Kerry has pushed that Christmas In Cambodia myth in order to explain his embitterment about the Viet Nam war, as the catalyst that transformed him into an eager young officer to a cynical anti-war activist. Until this year, no one challenged him even on naming the wrong president, which you think a newspaper like the Herald would have caught. Now he wants people to believe that he meant he was near Cambodia. Well, he was at Sa Dec, which is almost as close to Cambodia as it is to the Mekong Delta -- about 55 miles away. (See the map at Power Line.) What of it? He was supposed to be in Viet Nam! So why the disillusion and embitterment?

The truth is that John Kerry never went to Cambodia on Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year's Eve, or Arbor Day. He certainly never went there on a Swiftboat, as the Mekong was blockaded to keep all but the light-drafting sampans from crossing the border in either direction, as Stephen Gardner -- Kerry's shipmate -- pointed out yesterday. None of his shipmates, in fact, have ever agreed with Kerry's contention that he went to Cambodia, and even his official biographer left that claim out of his book, released earlier in the primaries.

John Kerry lied about his service record. He took a contentious issue and simply pasted it into his narrative of his military experience in order to add a certain cachet, an odd credibility to his assertions of widespread atrocities when he turned his back on his fellow vets, once stateside. Don't believe me, Kerry could say? Well, I've run illegal clandestine missions into Cambodia and seen it all. I even have the hat! And I tell you, everyone there committed atrocities ...

This isn't just a politician's fib about supporting federal funding for Head Start; this is a man who tells fundamental lies about his background in order to puff up his importance, and for what? To gain the notoriety needed to stick his fellow veterans in the back. To step on the corpses of their reputations into a political career. To get in good with the cool people. What else has John Kerry lied about, and what new versions of his life will be forthcoming?

Tell me I'm wrong. Demand that Senator Kerry release his full service record so that he can prove me and the Swiftvets wrong. If he can't get his dates and places straight for what he's featired as his primary qualification for the Presidency, then let's get the records out and see what they say. He and his party demanded it of George Bush when they called him a deserter with a hell of a lot less cause than the Swiftvets have provided. It didn't take much courage for him to press Bush for those records when everyone happily smeared with the AWOL charge; failure to produce them now will demonstrate Kerry's cowardice in the most clear and objective manner possible.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at August 11, 2004 6:12 PM

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» Tales from Behind Enemy Lines or How to Not to Answer a Scandal from The Pink Flamingo Bar Grill
Here is a copy of a letter being sent around to Democrats. Pretty short on answers and long on personal attacks but we knew that was coming and we all understand now we need to support those Swift Boat Vets with all of our might.Yea we better hear it f... [Read More]

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» John Kerry's Memory Burn: Just An Acid Flashback? from Watcher of Weasels
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