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August 19, 2004
Captain's Quarters Inspires Washington Times Editorial

Reader and fellow blogger Pat Curley and also William Millan note that today's lead editorial in the Washington Times regarding John Kerry's conflicting claims for his first Purple Heart explicitly credits Captain's Quarters for raising the question:

One of the criteria for awarding a Purple Heart is that the person in question was involved in action against the enemy. A wound resulting from friendly fire still qualifies for a Purple Heart as long as it was incurred while engaged with the enemy. We relate this information because the writers over at have raised an interesting question surrounding John Kerry's first Purple Heart.

By golly, they even get the domain name right! And that's not all -- they review the relevant facts without delving at all into motivations and point out that between his journal, his authorized biography, and his website, Kerry impeaches himself:

According to Mr. Kerry's account of what happened on Dec. 2, 1968, he and his crew were steering a Navy skimmer on patrol in Cam Ranh Bay. Mr. Kerry and his crew came upon a group of Vietnamese unloading cargo on the far shore. Mr. Kerry and his crew opened fire. In the brief moments of action, Mr. Kerry received a shrapnel wound in his arm from an unknown source. What's missing is any mention that Mr. Kerry's crew was fired upon. ...

The question is not whether Mr. Kerry was sufficiently wounded on Dec. 2. The question is: Was Mr. Kerry actually involved in combat that night? ... What amounts to a record of the night are a timeline that states, "December 2, 1968: Kerry experiences first intense combat ...

But two weeks after Dec. 2, 1968, Mr. Kerry wrote an entry in his journal that raises questions about his own account of that night. Shortly after being wounded, Mr. Kerry was transferred to Cat Lo on the Mekong Delta and assumed his first command of a swift boat. In his biography of Mr. Kerry, "Tour of Duty," Douglas Brinkley reports on page 189 that soon after Mr. Kerry turned 25 on Dec. 11, 1968, he headed out on his first mission: "[The crew] had no lust for battle, but they also were not afraid. Kerry wrote in his notebook, 'A cocky feeling of invincibility accompanied us up the Long Tau shipping channel because we hadn't been shot at yet, and Americans at war who haven't been shot at are allowed to be cocky'. "

The Times leaves the obvious conclusions for the reader. I think that the understated and dispassionate nature of their editorial makes the argument far more effective than one might expect; it reads like an indictment, which it surely is. In the comments section of my original post on this subject, a great deal of effort has gone into parsing the rules and regulations of the Purple Heart commendation, most of which misses the heart of the issue. Kerry said he was in combat on December 2nd, an event which he has described as one of the most frightening experiences of his life -- and yet his journal and his authorized biography have him explaining that nine days afterward, he and his crew had the cockiness of Americans who had never seen combat. The Washington Times gets the problem: John Kerry lies, lies badly, and does it to feed his ego and his career.

Having our site show up in an editorial of a major newspaper as the explicit inspiration for uncovering this kind of shenanigans amazes me. I had no idea the editors of the Times read my blog (or perhaps I assume too much -- although I didn't e-mail them, someone else may have). But let's not forget that the original reporting came from Art Moore at WND and that Amelia first brought it to my attention, or that more readers found the relevant passage of Tour of Duty in a searchable function at

The blogosphere has become a community of interacting forces and blurred lines, where readers, bloggers, and primary news sources blend into a continuum more than remain discrete parts. I can't help but think that the continuum evolved further today, and that the information media has moved another step away from a delivery-only mechanism to a real partnership with those they serve. Perhaps objectivity, or at least transparency, will be the next step. We can hope -- and as all of us proved here at CQ, we can also work towards that goal.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at August 19, 2004 5:01 AM

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