The Corner

Rising to The Challenge

From a reader:

Jonah,

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

are “contradictory.”

Thanks,

Matt

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.

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