From a reader:
I’ve got a defense of Kerry that “goes beyond the ‘you
have no right to judge’ or ‘Bush is the devil’ nonsense”:
Kerry volunteers to fight in Vietnam. He gets sent over
there, saves some dude’s life, shoots up some VC, takes
some shrapnel on three occasions. He gets medals and
ribbons for his actions. He also realizes that American
intervention in Vietnam is a collossal blunder. He comes
home determined to end American involvement there. In a
high-profile public protest, Kerry throws his ribbons and
the medals of two other veterans over some fence.
How is wanting credit for both fighting (with guns) in
Vietnam and fighting (with words and tossed ribbons) to
end the war once home “contradictory”? Both actions
required huge balls. In volunteering for action, he put
himself in harm’s way to fight for his country, something
which countless other privileged college graduates refused
to do (ahem, GWB and Cheney). In working to end the war
once he got home, Kerry took an extremely controversial –
and I think, in retrospect, correct — position that
publicly pitted him against powerful people in the
government like Hoover and Nixon. He went to the war to
fight for America, and he came home and continued to fight
for America — to get us out of what had become a disaster
in Indochina. Both actions are consistent, and brave.
Now, the only way you can plausibly argue that they
weren’t consistent is if you think protesting the war upon
his return was “unpatriotic” or wrong. If you want to
argue that the Vietnam war was salvagable by 1971 — and
that we should have upped the ante there rather than begin
to extricate ourselves — I’ll have that argument with you
any day. But if you’re unwilling to support escalation in
Vietnam in 1971, then you cannot possibly argue that
Kerry’s initial decision to fight for his country and his
later decision to work toward ending the war
P.S. — I can’t figure out why all of you at the Corner
take such umbrage that Kerry testified that American
soldiers committed war crimes. I know it doesn’t sound
good. But, sadly, there’s no question that they did; it’s
fact. So why the outrage that he would say so?
Me:I’ve heard this argument from lots of folks. It’s fine as far as it goes. But Kerry’s position on both fronts goes so much further. He renounced the war as dishonorable, indeed that’s why he gave back the medals. How can you brag about earning those medals while being proud of returning them? That’s a contradiction.
Moreover, even if there’s a consistent narrative to John Kerry’s actions, his explanation of that narrative is indisputably inconsistent.
By the way, I do think it approaches the unpatriotic to sit in on meetings where the assasination of Senators is discussed (Kerry denies this and witnesses say he was against it) and I do think it borders on unpatriotic to accuse your comrades in arms of “atrocities” without proof and arguably in order to advance your political career. I have no doubt war crimes were committed. But Kerry’s position was that they were systemic and policy. And judging from the 800 bazillion emails I’ve gotten from Vietnam vets, a lot of people think that’s outrageous.