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August 29, 2004
Power Line Fights Back

Last week, Scott Johnson and John Hinderaker of Power Line wrote an op-ed piece in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune detailing their frustration with the local and national coverage given to the deconstruction of John Kerry's Viet Nam narrative. They specifically focused on the Christmas In Cambodia fable, which even the Kerry campaign now has retracted, and factually refuted it point by point.

The Strib's editorial board responded in an editorial written by Jim Boyd that called Scott and John "fraudulent" and spewed a lot of vitriol abut the two being part of the "Republican smear machine" -- but actually conceded their central point, calling it a "niggling criticism". If so, then they must be the first fraudulent smear machine that operated by spreading the truth. Scott and John respond in today's Strib after reaching an unusual agreement with the editorial board to be allowed to respond to Boyd's vicious personal attack on the Strib's editorial pages:

First, the basics. We wrote that the Kerry campaign has retracted Kerry's oft-told tale of being in Cambodia on Christmas 1968. Boyd did not dispute this. We wrote that there is no record of John Kerry being in Cambodia in December 1968, or at any other time. Boyd did not dispute this. We wrote that Kerry's commanding officers have denied that he was ever sent into Cambodia. Boyd did not dispute this. We wrote that not a single crewman who ever served with Kerry has supported Kerry's claim to have been in Cambodia, and several crewmen have denied that their boat was ever in Cambodia. Boyd did not dispute this. We wrote that there is no record of Swift boats being used for clandestine missions as claimed by Kerry. Boyd did not dispute this. We wrote that Swift boats were unsuited for such secret missions, given their large size and noise. Boyd did not dispute this.

Gosh, for fraudulent smear artists, we seem to be doing pretty well. Given that he didn't deny any of our main points, what did Boyd have to say? Most importantly, he alleged that Kerry was in Cambodia, but it was in January 1969, not December 1968. Thus, Boyd wrote, ours is an "accurate but niggling criticism." Of course, there is no more evidence for Kerry being in Cambodia in January 1969 than in December 1968.

But when Kerry told his famous story to the Senate in 1986 -- the story that he says was "seared -- seared" into his memory, he was very specific about the timing of his life-altering experience. It was Christmas 1968, and he heard President Richard Nixon denying that we had troops in Cambodia while he himself had been sent there. It was this experience, he said, that caused him to lose his faith in the American government.

We pointed out that Kerry's account was obviously false, since Nixon was not president in December 1968. Boyd responded that Nixon was then president-elect, so Kerry's "discrepancy" was "understandable." Obviously, however, a president-elect was in no position to assure the American people that there were no troops in Cambodia.

It's well worth noting that Power Line challenged Jim Boyd to debate them in an open forum at our first State Fair appearance, in front of a live audience, in order to put the entire issue to rest and hopefully to part respectfully, if not in friendship. Scott and John issued a number of requests to Boyd to do this, both by e-mail and on their blog. Boyd did not deign to respond to their requests, and the seat we reserved for him at the booth sat empty the entire three hours.

Some people, it seems, lack the courage to back up their venomous words with action. It's the mark of a bully that they slink away when discovering they're outmatched.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at August 29, 2004 10:12 AM

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