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August 17, 2004
Even Rabid Partisans Demand Answers From Kerry

More points of light are peeking out through the media blackout on the Christmas in Cambodia myth. In today's Boston Globe, rabid Kerry supporter Joan Vennochi insists that the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth are nothing more than Republican hacks ... and yet:

Kerry offers the promise of a credible voice speaking truth to Americans and the world. Therefore, Bush's one hope for reelection rests in changing that perception about Kerry. The incumbent must somehow turn this election into a choice between liars. That's what the Bush campaign is doing via the book, "Unfit for Command," written by the Vietnam veterans who question Kerry's actions in the war, and via a Willie Horton-like television commercial by those same vets that has been denounced by Democrats and Republicans alike. However, having surrogates denounce an ad and question the motives of the attackers does not necessarily diminish their effectiveness.

You really have to read the entire Vennochi op-ed to get the sense of her bias. Comparing the Swiftvets' ad to the Willie Horton ad -- which originated with Al Gore, Joan! -- only works in the sense that both were factually correct. Unless Vennochi has found an undercurrent of racism in attacking John Kerry for his misrepresentation of his military record, why Willie Horton? It's a handy codeword for eeeeeeeeevil Republican tactics, so much so that Vennochi has lost its definition entirely.

And yet ...

But ridiculous as it may be, Kerry ignores the attack at his peril. If Bush and Kerry are both liars, it gives voters a reason to rationalize sticking with Bush.

Bush is the known purveyor of false information. He is the president who convinced a nation to wage war because, as he told us, Iraq represented an imminent threat to America. He is the president who invaded another country on the basis of bad intelligence or bad faith -- it doesn't really matter which.

Well, Joan, it does if your main purpose is to support the "Bush Lied, People Died" meme. If he acted on bad intelligence in good faith, as all sources indicate, then he didn't lie. Bill Clinton, the member-nations of the Security Council, and Congress -- including your candidate John Kerry -- all reached the same conclusion. It turned out to be wrong, or just possibly out of date, but that doesn't make it a lie. Not unless you're three years old and can't understand the difference.

And yet ...

Kerry's statements about Cambodia do have traction for opponents. He has referred to spending Christmas or Christmas Eve 1968 in Cambodia and coming under fire. At the time Cambodia was neutral and supposedly off-limits to US troops. "I remember Christmas of 1968 sitting on a gunboat in Cambodia," Kerry said in 1986 at a Senate committee hearing on US policy toward Central America. "I remember what it was like to be shot at by the Vietnamese and Khmer 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 Cambodia. I have that memory which is seared -- seared -- in me."

The Kerry campaign now says Kerry's runs into Cambodia came in early 1969. "Swift boat crews regularly operated along the Cambodian border from Ha Tien on the Gulf of Thailand to the rivers of the Mekong south and west of Saigon," Michael Meehan, a Kerry adviser, said in a statement last week. "Many times he was on or near the Cambodian border and on one occasion crossed into Cambodia at the request of members of a special operations group."

Answers like that aren't good enough. Kerry put his Vietnam service before voters as the seminal character issue of his presidential campaign. He should answer every question voters have about it -- and he should answer them himself.

Even the Bush-haters seem to get this one. Kerry brought this fight on by repeatedly using his Viet Nam record as a character issue, but when challenged, has hid behind a phalanx of advisors who keep giving contradictory answers. That reveals more about Kerry's character than a thousand Swiftvets sitting at a thousand typewriters. When Joan Vennochi loses patience with John Kerry's ducking, we know the story has started to hit home. (via Instapundit)

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at August 17, 2004 6:51 AM

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» Cambodian infiltration from Posse Incitatus
Slowly, the Cambodia story creeps out. Powerline has the links. This story, in and of itself, will not destroy Kerry. But it will distract his campaign and may force his supporters to make singluarly stupid statements. This is the problem [Read More]

Tracked on August 17, 2004 10:47 AM

» Kerry's Cambodia Story Update from New England Republican
There was some movement on the Christmas in Cambodia Story yesterday that I wasn't able to get to. Plenty of good bloggers were all over the developments though so I will just summarize and provide links. [Read More]

Tracked on August 19, 2004 10:09 AM

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