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August 12, 2004
Christmas In Cambodia, Part VIII: Now It's Fete Du Roi?

With the Christmas in Cambodia myth collapsing all around him, Matt Drudge is flashing the news that John Kerry has turned to official biographer Douglas Brinkley -- whose previous work never mentioned Kerry's purported foray into Cambodia -- to recast his mission in January rather than December:

TOUR OF DUTY author and John Kerry historian Doug Brinkley is rushing a piece for the NEW YORKER: to set-the-record-straight on Kerry's Christmas in Cambodia tale, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned.

Kerry has turned to author Brinkley for a "modification" after it was exposed that Kerry was not in Cambodia during Christmas of 1968, as he once claimed from the Senate floor.

The Brinkley piece for the NEW YORKER will now say that Kerry was not in Cambodia during Christmas, but rather in January, publishing sources tell DRUDGE.

Perhaps John Kerry meant the French celebration of Christmas, fete du roi, all along! The Feast of the King is Janury 6, but that won't be the actual date, nor will "clarification" be the real reason. Stephen Gardner served with Kerry for two months on his swift boat, until the middle of January. Gardner has been outspoken about the fact that he never went into Cambodia, not with John Kerry or anyone else. In fact, Gardner has given quite a lot of background as to how improbable a swift-boat excursion five miles into Cambodia would be, not the least of which is the less-than-stealthy nature of the boat itself. Putting John Kerry in Cambodia at the end of January allows them to cut Gardner off at the knees and avoid dealing with the one man on Kerry's boat that opposes Kerry. It's a transparent ploy to rehabilitate a transparently false story.

It still doesn't address Kerry's repeated assertions that he was ordered into Cambodia on Christmas Eve, a story he has told repeatedly in order to give him credibility. The story included the assertion that Kerry was under friendly fire from friendly Vietnamese shooting weapons to celebrate Christmas, as well as hostile fire from Cambodians. Did the Vietnamese celebrate Christmas in January? Were they also celebrating the French holiday?

Besides, Brinkley left the entire incident of the first biography, presumably for a reason. If he rehabilitates it now, shouldn't that open Brinkley up for questions as to why he ignored the story in the first place? It will be interesting to see if Brinkley takes the bait and puts his own credibility on the line to jump-start Kerry's.

John O'Neill isn't buying it either, and promises that Kerry will need to remain flexible in the coming days as the book, Unfit For Command, is released to the general public:

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? While it makes sense for John Kerry to come clean about the Cambodia story, it is one of several tales that the Kerry campaign will have to face and clarify.

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 ONeill, member of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.

Kerry's backpedaling and the repeated and incoherent attempts of his campaign to spin this into silence reveals the desperation at Kerry/Edwards. All of this, and we've only read one chapter of the book ...

UPDATE: Brinkley already sold out, apparently to the London Telegraph. While conceding that Kerry lied about Christmas in Cambodia for the past 30+ years, now he wants us to believe the Kerry instead made several "black ops" trips across the border, after Gardner left:

"On Christmas Eve he was near Cambodia; he was around 50 miles from the Cambodian border. There's no indictment of Kerry to be made, but he was mistaken about Christmas in Cambodia," said Douglas Brinkley, who has unique access to the candidate's wartime journals.

But Mr Brinkley rejected accusations that the senator had never been to Cambodia, insisting he was telling the truth about running undisclosed "black" missions there at the height of the war.

He said: "Kerry went into Cambodian waters three or four times in January and February 1969 on clandestine missions. He had a run dropping off US Navy Seals, Green Berets and CIA guys." The missions were not armed attacks on Cambodia, said Mr Brinkley, who did not include the clandestine missions in his wartime biography of Mr Kerry, Tour of Duty.

If Brinkley had the information on these clandestine missions when writing the book, why didn't he include them? After all, it wasn't like Kerry kept his supposed incursions a state secret, and it certainly would have been a great selling point. And now it's the unholy trio of black ops -- Navy SEALs, Green Berets, and the CIA, oh my. How convenient that his new missions don't lend themselves to documentation ... but I'm sure that's just a coincidence. (Via reader Allen Lewis)

UPDATE: My good friend and Northern Alliance colleague Big Trunk at Power Line has this to say about Brinkley:

In the event, God forbid, of a Kerry administration, Kerry's faux JFK will play to Brinkley's faux Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., who is himself (still) a bastardized version of a real historian.

A faux Arthur Schlesinger? It's like being called a fake cubic zirconia, isn't it? Trunk really knows how to hurt a guy!

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at August 12, 2004 9:18 PM

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» ORTHODOX Christmas in Cambodia from mypetjawa v. 2.0 (beta)
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