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August 23, 2004
More Sloppy Work From The Kerry Campaign

Steve Sturm from Thoughts Online notes another inconsistency in the official Kerry Viet Nam narrative and timeline. This error is nowhere near as egregious as the Cambodian Christmas myth, but still indicating a certain level of sloppiness and poor vetting that allowed John Kerry's campaign to get mired in a quagmire of his own making.

In his official timeline and in one of the Michael Kranish biographies in the Boston Globe, Kerry makes certain that both note his arrival in Long Beach at the end of his tour on the USS Gridley came the day after Robert Kennedy was assassinated at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles:

June 6, 1968 -- Kerry arrives in Long Beach the day after Senator Robert F. Kennedy is killed in Los Angeles...

"I didn't have any real feel for what the heck was going on [in the war]," Kerry has recalled. His ship returned to its Long Beach, Calif., port on June 6, 1968, the day that Robert F. Kennedy died from a gunshot wound he received on the previous night at a Los Angeles hotel. The antiwar protests were growing. But within five months Kerry was heading back to Vietnam, seeking to fulfill his officer commitment despite his growing misgivings about the war.

The difference between the two passages isn't the inconsistency, and have a perfectly reasonable explanation: Kennedy was fatally wounded on the evening of June 5th, but wasn't pronounced dead until early on June 6th. Similar notes appear in Douglas Brinkley's Tour of Duty on page 460, in Brinkley's timeline of John Kerry's service:

June 6, 1968 - The Gridley sets sail for the United States. Kerry arrives in Long Beach on June 6, the day after presidential contender Robert Kennedy is shot in Los Angeles.

According to the history of the Gridley, however, Kerry would have had to accomplish the novel feat of arriving in port two days ahead of his ship:

GRIDLEY operated along the California coast until sailing for the Orient 18 November. She left Subic Bay 2 January 1967 for plane guard duty in the China Sea and the Gulf of Tonkin. After varied duties in the fighting zone, she sailed for Australia en route to the West Coast and arrived Long Beach 8 June to prepare for future action.

What does this mean? Not a whole lot substantively, although it does smack of a cheesy way to tie himself to the Kennedys. But the poor attention to detail points out the general lack of competence for both Douglas Brinkley and Kerry's campaign staff. Don't either one do any basic fact-checking for the website or -- especially -- the biography? Small wonder that Cambodian Christmases abound...

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at August 23, 2004 6:25 PM

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