Kind of different than this James webb writing:
"All Things Considered," Senator Kerry and the Swifties
24 August 2004
The Swift Boat Veterans for the Truth have a point in their attack on John Kerry's Vietnam service, for by basing his campaign on his wartime credentials, he invited their response. The "Swifties" are giving John Kerry a version of what the military calls a "peer evaluation" - a hard, cool look at a fellow officer that calls him to task for being self-serving. But their conduct invites its own questions, not the least of which is one of relevance.
Should a shaky decoration for gallantry disqualify one for the Presidency? Ask Lyndon Johnson, who as a Congressman convinced Douglas MacArthur to award him a Silver Star for riding as a passenger on an aircraft fired on by the Japanese.
Do erratic tactics reveal an inability to govern under pressure? Ask Jack Kennedy, whose World War II exploits as the skipper of PT-109 began when his boat sank after colliding with a Japanese warship.
Is a highborn aristocrat condemnable when he goes to go to war to fuel his political aspirations? Tell that to Teddy Roosevelt, who recklessly risked the lives of his Rough Riders at San Juan Hill, and incessantly lobbied on his own behalf to receive the Medal of Honor once he returned.
The greater worry is that their attack on Kerry's service may harm the very people the Swifties wish to protect, for their allegations have the potential to negate the service of everyone who was on the boats. If the young John Kerry were so able to manipulate the Navy's system that he unfairly collected five decorations, the system itself has no credibility, and all awards become meaningless. Indeed, one of the Swifties has had to deny the content of his own Bronze Star citation indicating that he was under enemy fire at the same time as was Kerry, in order to further their contention that Kerry's citation was false. This confusing conduct threatens to harm the public's view of those who fought in Vietnam as much as anything that John Kerry did when he came home and turned against the war.
By contrast, Kerry's leadership of Vietnam Veterans Against the War is not only fair game; it speaks to legitimate issues of loyalty, and his actions at that time are the true core of this dispute. For most veterans it was not that Kerry was against the war, but that he used his military credentials to denigrate the service of a whole generation of veterans. The Vietnam Veterans Against the War was a very small, highly radical organization. Their stories of atrocious conduct, repeated in lurid detail by Kerry before the Congress, represented not the typical experience of the American soldier, but its ugly extreme. That the articulate, urbane Kerry would validate such allegations helped to make life hell for many Vietnam veterans, for a very long time.
But against this backdrop we are measuring a sitting President who avoided service in Vietnam altogether, using family strings to gain a spot in the National Guard at a time when the Guard was an undeniable safe haven from war. And if there are a group of former Swifties available to cross every "t" and dot every "i" of John Kerry's Vietnam service, there will be no debates about whether George W. Bush deserved a Silver Star, or earned his Purple Hearts.
The Swifties have made their point, and after thirty years of bitterness John Kerry has earned the karma that they brought him. But most veterans, like most other Americans, are ready to digest this piece of information and move on.