Potentatus - Politics and Policy

Politics and Policy Blog

Friday, August 27, 2004


connecting the swiftboat dots

On the radio today, the bloviating surprisingly popular rightwing firebrand Michael Savage was fulminating today about how John Kerry is the most decorated war hero in this nation’s history, having received 6 medals in only 3.5 months without ever being wounded. Savage’s point, that this proves Kerry was a self-aggrandizing Boston Brahmin is way overblown. However, the factoid spawned a line of thought in me, that helps connect the swiftboat dots.

I should first say that there is no doubt in my mind that Kerry is a war hero. Perhaps a flawed hero, but so are they all. There is also no doubt in my mind that the 200 or so other swiftboat veterans (60+ of whom are also decorated) (not to mention the now deceased veteran who had already made such charges in a Boston Globe interview 8 years ago) are also heroes in their own way, and that both sides are recounting what they see as the truth, albeit tinged by their own biases as Lord, Ross and Lepper showed, all opinions invariably are. The actual truth no doubt lies somewhere in between.

However, the Aha comes when you recall that Kerry was extremely reluctant to release his war records, and only did so after extensive prodding from the Republicans. Was this humility? Everyone was surprised that when the records were released, Kerry’s record appears phenomenal, again the most medals received by anyone in such a short period. And where did the humility go, as Kerry soon whole heartedly embraced the war veteran role once it blasted him through the primaries and became a cornerstone of his campaign. So why the initial reluctance?

Perhaps Kerry knew that once his war record came under scrutiny, things would not hold up so well. Perhaps a younger self-important Kerry saw the opportunity to talk himself up a bit. Its likely that given the opportunity, all of us would inflate just a bit here and there our bravery, our heroism. Something Kerry was undoubtedly good at. Perhaps years later, Kerry learned to cover it up, hoping it would go away. When the Republicans pried it out, the opportunist in Kerry (every politician is) decided to run with it, to milk it for what its worth, and then play hardball damage control spin when the rest of the story started to come out.

Elementary my dear Watson…

Just a thought.

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