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Swift Swift Boat Post

June 13, 2006

Thomas Lipscomb "an independent investigative reporter who was nominated for a Pulitzer
for his reporting on Kerry during the 2004 elections" and "a senior
fellow at the Annenberg Center for the Digital Future (USC)" has a couple of excellent articles about that whole old ugly controversy at RealClearPolitics. The first, "The Truth, John Kerry and the New York Times" is a must-read for skeptics of the Swift Boaters claims; the second, "John Kerry’s Skimmer Scam" also has lots of good solid information supporting the assertion that the Swift Boater’s claims are "largely true".

I don’t think one needs to question Kerry’s valor for his honorable service to this country to see than there are numerous areas where Kerry has given conflicting accounts of what happened during his time of service. I also think given the media’s obsession with President Bush’s Air National Guard service, you’d think they would have wanted to investigate this story a little more. Indeed, I wish they had, for most of the rebuttals I saw (including Bill O’Reilly) were more of the nature that it was indecent to even ask such questions- much like the the ones Ann Coulter so indelicately asked of the 9/11 widows.

I didn’t read the Swift Vets book, but I’ve seen enough contradictions of Kerry’s in print to know that he has some accounting to do.  A brief sample:

Kerry’s summary of the mission?  Here is what he told Tim Russert on "Meet the Press":

"We were in combat. We were in a very, very–probably one
of the most frightening–if you ask anybody who was with me, the two
guys who were with me, was probably the most frightening night that
they had that they were in Vietnam… ."

Kerry in TOUR OF DUTY:

"It was a half-assed action that hardly qualified as
combat, but it was my first… . … [A] minor skirmish, but since I
couldn’t put my finger on what we really accomplished or on what had
happened, it was difficult to feel satisfied. "

Finally, Kerry in TOUR OF DUTY a la recherche… from his "journal" nine days after "whatever" happened in Na Trang Bay: 

"A cocky feeling of invincibility accompanied us up the
Long Tau shipping channel because we hadn’t been shot at yet, and
Americans at war who haven’t been shot at are allowed to be cocky."

Kerry’s use of his military record has been a remarkable exercises in spin, to put it charitably. I wish he would simply own up to some tall-tale telling and put the issue behind him instead of prevaricating in the age of Google.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Rufus T. Flinger permalink
    June 13, 2006 7:41 am

    Grec:

    Happy to take you up on the offer to get together — with work travel it will haveta be in a couple weeks. Kidzone!

    If I can point out — again trying for the spirit of constructive criticism — of what to me seems like a HUGE double standard in the last few posts…

    Coultier and Delay get AMAZINGLY generous bios:

    “I’m the first person to advocate expressing your views strongly, and in a colorful, amusing and intelligent manner. Ann Coulter, from the little bits of her I’ve seen and read, seems to often fit that bill. Occasionally she goes over the edge…”

    “[Delay] was a very effective leader, and the Democrats therefore hated him”

    And yet with Kerry, there is a STUNNINGLY uncritical view of the Swifties claims and of Thomas Lipscombs critique of him and accuse Kerry of “prevarication” or lieing in the age of Google.

    Well, with a half hour of Googling I’m suggesting that this charge itself is “preverication.”

    Let’s start with your repeating the generous bio that RealClear Politics had for Lipscomb:

    …“nominated for a Pulitzer for his reporting on Kerry during the 2004 elections.”

    No, he wasn’t.
    The Pulitzers have three categories: Submissions, Nominated Finalists and Winners. “Work that has been submitted for Prize consideration but not chosen as either a nominated finalist or a winner is termed an entry or submission. No information on entrants is provided.”

    Lipscomb never actually won a nomination, nor a Pulitzer award or any other award for journalism.

    Virtually ANYONE who ever had work in print can be submitted. The year he was there were 1400 journalism entries along with him.

    Also, something missing from his resume, but is also Google-able:

    Lipscomb is a Senior Fellow at The Hudson Institute. This is a right wing funded Think Tank that has Robert Bork, Richard Perle, Al Haig, and most recently a newly hired senior fellow Scotter Libby (he was suddenly available) in it’s ranks.

    http://www.hudson.org/files/publications/annual_report_99.pdf
    http://www.hudson.org/learn/index.cfm?fuseaction=board_of_trustees

    As far as I can Google, Lipscomb’s “reporting” is confined to OP/ED pieces in conservative leaning editoral pages and magazines. And the mentioned series of pieces attacking Kerry’s military service.

    That doesn’t disqualify him or his writing, but it does give a more full picture of where he’s coming from. A better one that “independent Pultizer prize nominated reporter.”

    Your charge as I read it in this post is that Kerry’s three quotes contradict:

    One quote painting a picture of a scary combat situation, and the other portraying a minor non-event, and a third quote portraying no firefight at all.

    Well, taken out of context, that is how it sounds. Here is the context back, starting wiht the first soundbite:

    MR. RUSSERT: The Boston Globe reports that your commanding officer, Lieutenant Commander Grant Hibberd has suggested that you perhaps didn’t earn your first Purple Heart and question whether you should have left Vietnam after six months….

    SEN. KERRY: …I think that’s a very unfair characterization by that person. I mean, politics is politics. The medical records show that I had shrapnel removed from my arm. We were in combat. We were in a very, very–probably one of the most frightening–if you ask anybody who was with me, the two guys who were with me, was probably the most frightening night that they had that they were in Vietnam and we’re…

    OK. What DO the two guys with him say? Was it “one of the most frightening night they had in Vietnam” or was in a minor non-event to them? And while we’re there was Kerry really shot?

    Pat Runyon: “An Ohio factory worker who was with John Kerry on a dangerous night mission 36 years ago in Vietnam said he has no doubt Kerry was grazed in a firefight and deserves his first Purple Heart for a combat injury.

    “It wasn’t a serious wound,” Runyon said, and Kerry was able to start shooting again. When the firefight was over, Runyon said Kerry told him all he felt was a “burning sensation.”

    Runyon said he remembers the incident clearly because it was the first time he had been in combat. “I hadn’t seen any kind of action or anything,” he said.
    http://www.politicsla.com/forums/archive/index.php?t-4379.html

    Ok. So he confirmed it was “combat.” And that it was the first time they saw real action.

    In a seperate news article Runyon describes how he felt that night, in the context of recounting an experience with a Swiftie trying to shape his testimony the other way:

    “Patrick Runyon, who served on a mission with Mr. Kerry, said he initially thought the caller was from a pro-Kerry group, and happily gave a statement about the night Mr. Kerry won his first Purple Heart. The investigator said he would send it to him by e-mail for his signature. Mr. Runyon said the edited version was stripped of all references to enemy combat, making it look like just another night in the Mekong Delta.

    “It made it sound like I didn’t believe we got any returned fire,” he said. “He made it sound like it was a normal operation. It was the scariest night of my life.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2004/08/20/politics/campaign/20swift.html?position=&ei=5090&en=8afa4fded4046b86&ex=1250654400&adxnnl=1&partner=rssuserland&pagewanted=all&adxnnlx=1150200439-hfW6HOJSybpv9sjEXXwtKA

    OK. That is pretty direct, and in line with Kerry’s Meet the Press description of the night.

    But what about the other guy’s version of the events that night?

    William Zaladonis, an engineman third class who served with John Kerry in Vietnam and was aboard the boat during the incident that earned Kerry his first Purple Heart.

    “But then, later that night, we ran into– there was about five or six sampans, small junks crossing at the same time, and we challenged them – John saw them through the starlight scope – and we challenged them and we popped a flare and they refused to stop. They hit the beach and took off. So we opened up on them and, uh, after a few seconds of that– and our cover was blown so we got out of there…

    Myers: What happens when…you all start firing?

    Zaladonis: Right, we started firing. I had an M-16 machine gun. I was on the bow of the boat and I opened up on them, and John didn’t like the area I was shooting at and he directed me to fire more to the right. And I had muzzle flashes in front of my eyes so it was hard for me to see, because it was like having flashbulbs going off in front of your face – you know, hundreds of them at the same time. And I just couldn’t see. So he kind of directed my fire. And from what I remember, he was firing an M-16 and it either jammed or he ran out of ammo. And he bent over to pick up another one and then he got hurt, as he was bent over. As far as I can remember….I was busy with that M-60 and I was trying to empty all my ammo out as quick as possible, and get the heck out of there. It was a pretty scary situation…”

    OK. Two for two. It was combat Kerry got hurt in it, and it was scary.

    What about the “half assed skirmish” quote from Kerry? Doesn’t that still contradict?

    Well, yes when taken out of context and with a huge chuck removed from the middle.

    I looked up Kerry’s full story and BOY did they CUT OUT A LOT with those elipsis, making Kerry’s story sound minor and not scary…Read the whole thing below with the previously ommited parts in bold:

    “It was a half-assed action that hardly qualified as combat, but it was my first…

    …Two enlisted men and myself stayed up all night…most of the night had been spent being scared shitless by fishermen who would creep up on in the darkness…Then very early in the morning around 2 or 3 while it was still dark, we proceeded up a tiny inlet. The jungle closed in on both sides, it was scary as hell. You could hear yourself breathing.”

    Suddenly through the magnified moonlight of the infrared starlight scope I watched mezmerized as a group of sampans glided in…we had been briefed that this was a favorite crossing area for VC… We opened fire. My m16 jammed and as I bent down into the boat to get another gun a stinging piece of heat socked into my arm… We we’re unprotected, we didn’t have any amunition, we didn’t have cover, we just weren’t prepared for that. So we shot the first sampans so they were destroyed and whatever was in them was destroyed. Then their cover boat warned of a possible VC ambush…and Kerry and company departed the area…

    “I felt terribly seasoned after this minor skirmish, but since I couldn’t put my finger on what we really accomplished or on what had happened, it was difficult to feel satisfied.”

    (Notice how in your version of this quote, they cut off the “I felt terribly seasoned…” and just cut to back to the part of the sentence saying it was “[A] minor skirmish” to make it sound less like a battle that would make one feel “seasoned”)

    OK, then. It was combat. Kerry got hit. It was scared them shitless. Check, check, check between all three stories.

    Then how about the last quote:

    “A cocky feeling of invincibility accompanied us up the Long Tau shipping channel because we hadn’t been shot at yet, and Americans at war who haven’t been shot at are allowed to be cocky.”

    A million more genouous interpreations could apply here than “Kerry as liar.” This could easliy be saying: “We felt cocky and invincible because we hadn’t been ambushed and shot at yet, the one skirmish we had we shot first. We were allowed to be cocky.”

    From my experience EVERYTHING that came from the Swifties was just like the above. Good propoganda, bad truth telling.

    McCain was right the Swifties were “dishonest and dishonorable.”

    Flinger out.

  2. Andrew P permalink
    June 14, 2006 11:31 am

    When I read stuff like this, I think of that SNL fake campaign ad which aired right after the ’88 campaign. According to the premise, the GOP had enough money left over for one more attack ad, so they flashed up the same distorted images of Willie Horton and Boston Harbor they had inundated us with for weeks, along with the tag line “George Bush: He beat a very, very bad man.”

    The Swift Boaties should let this rest. That they don’t do so says a lot more about them than about any supposed Kerry misrepresentations…

  3. June 14, 2006 1:23 pm

    Flinger- Great fisking on the quotes offered. Gotta dash now…

    I wouldn’t have even brought it up, but Kerry brought up the magic hat again… more later.

  4. June 15, 2006 11:00 am

    In addition to my follow-up post, I’ve emailed RCP with my conerns about the Pulitzer claim on Lipscomb’s bie. We’ll see if anything happens.

    The Count retracts with action, not just words!

  5. matchpoint permalink
    June 19, 2006 12:18 am

    You want point by point debunking of SBVT lies?

    Try this:

    http://homepage.mac.com/chinesemac/kerry_medals/truth.html

  6. June 21, 2006 1:11 pm

    Hey Count,

    Did RCP ever respond to your e-mail?

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