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Joshua Muravchik writes an article that may prove mortal to John Kerry's presidential aspirations in today's Washington Post. Muravchik's piece, entitled "Kerry's Cambodia Whopper," not only dissects the meaning of the collapse of this so-called epiphany, but it also moves the story forward, thanks to Kerry's hagiographer, Douglas Brinkley:
Kerry argued that contra aid could put the United States on the path to deeper involvement despite denials by the Reagan administration of any such intent. Kerry began by reading out similar denials regarding Vietnam from presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon. Then he offered this devastating riposte:
"I remember Christmas of 1968 sitting on a gunboat in Cambodia. I remember what it was like to be shot at by 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."
However seared he was, Kerry's spokesmen now say his memory was faulty. When the Swift boat veterans who oppose Kerry presented statements from his commanders and members of his unit denying that his boat entered Cambodia, none of Kerry's shipmates came forward, as they had on other issues, to corroborate his account. Two weeks ago Kerry's spokesmen began to backtrack. First, one campaign aide explained that Kerry had patrolled the Mekong Delta somewhere "between" Cambodia and Vietnam. But there is no between; there is a border. Then another spokesman told reporters that Kerry had been "near Cambodia." But the point of Kerry's 1986 speech was that he personally had taken part in a secret and illegal war in a neutral country. That was only true if he was "in Cambodia," as he had often said he was. If he was merely "near," then his deliberate misstatement falsified the entire speech.
Of course, all of this has been explored on numerous blogs, including here. But Muravchik adds this bombshell that has been missed thus far:
Now a new official statement from the campaign undercuts Brinkley. It offers a minimal (thus harder to impeach) claim: that Kerry "on one occasion crossed into Cambodia," on an unspecified date. But at least two of the shipmates who are supporting Kerry's campaign (and one who is not) deny their boat ever crossed the border, and their testimony on this score is corroborated by Kerry's own journal, kept while on duty. One passage reproduced in Brinkley's book says: "The banks of the [Rach Giang Thanh River] whistled by as we churned out mile after mile at full speed. On my left were occasional open fields that allowed us a clear view into Cambodia. At some points, the border was only fifty yards away and it then would meander out to several hundred or even as much as a thousand yards away, always making one wonder what lay on the other side." His curiosity was never satisfied, because this entry was from Kerry's final mission [emph mine - CE].
John Hurley and the rest of the talking heads that the Kerry campaign has sent out over the past two weeks to debunk the debunking of John Kerry's Excellent Cambodian Adventure/Bogus Journey can't spin out of that one. If he had spent time in Cambodia, he would have known exactly what lay on the other side of the banks, if indeed he ever even got that close to Cambodia in the first place. And the revelation that his later journals were actually written after his return to the States for an abortive book proposal makes this even more odd, since he had already begun his anti-war activities -- and an illegal Cambodian excursion would not only add to his radical street cred, but it would have made a book deal more likely.
This Washington Post opinion piece marks a signal from the mainstream media that they have turned the corner on this issue, thanks in no small part, I'm sure, to Kerry's decision to go nuclear against the Swiftvets. Expect coverage in the news sections to follow and the Kerry collapse to continue in the days ahead.Sphere It View blog reactions
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