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August 20, 2004
It Wasn't Tet, Either

CQ reader Ed Jordan, in another thread, pointed me to Virginia Postrel's Dynamist blog, where a reader asks if John Kerry's Cambodian Christmas myth could have happened at Tet instead, when Vietnamese would have been more likely to be celebrating:

Kerry's biographer Doug Brinkley says that Kerry wasn't in Cambodia, or even close, on Christmas Eve 1968, which has been widely reported as proving that the story is false. But -- ain't that the LEAST important part of the story? The WSJ scoffed at Kerry's 'visions of sugar plums', but if you read what he actually said -- every time, he's been very consistent -- what 'seared' him is #s 1, 3, 4 and 5. Number two just happens to be a handle for the story, it's not essential.

And it is false. But the error tends to corrororate the rest of the story.

Cuz -- again, according to Brinkley, who has the documents -- Kerry WAS in Cambodia on several occasions, in late January and early February 1969. Kranish's reporting tends to support Brinkley in part and doesn't disprove him anywhere.

Tet was February 17, 1969.

Two things are wrong with this hypothesis. First, why would Kerry have any emotional attachment to Tet? Kerry's Catholic, not Buddhist, and his "seared" memory very much evoked the angst he felt at being separated from his home and family. But even more than that, the official chronolgy of his unit casts grave doubts on being anywhere near Cambodia at that time. Here's the entry for 18 February:

PCFs 50, 66, 72, and 94 conducted operations in the Bay Hap River ...

If so, he'd have to have returned to his unit in one hell of a hurry, through hostile territory, only to go out on a new mission as soon as he arrived. Very, very, very unlikely.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at August 20, 2004 12:01 AM

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