Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Last week Kerry took a page from F911 and criticized Bush for spending seven minutes reading to a class (actually Bush was not the one doing the reading). What was Kerry doing at the time? According to a recent interview, he watched the TV coverage from when the second plane hit the WTC until the third plane hit the Pentagon. Where was he watching? In the Capitol.

That's right, he spent 40 minutes watching TV, unable to think, while sitting in the 4th target. Of course, he did not know that it was a target. It was not obvious until the 3rd plane struck that there were more targets than the WTC.

This is why Bush's seven minutes do not trouble me. At that point, all we knew was that terrorists had attacked the WTC. The attacks had already happened. There was nothing he could do about them and the fact that there were more coming had not been communicated yet.

If Bush had jumped up and started giving orders, Kerry and Moore would be denouncing him for reacting without knowledge.

One of the attacks on the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth is the source of their money. Much of it came from a Texas millionaire who has previously donated $3 million to the Republicans including Bush.

I suppose that this is part of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy.

But somehow George Soros doesn't qualify as part of the Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy since his roll in funding ads is never mentioned.

Some of the controversy is over what actually happened. Who put in for Kerry to get his first Purple Heart? Kerry has refused to open his service records which leaves a lot open to speculation.

There is a lot of "he said, you said" going on. The major media has chosen to unquestioningly believe whatever Kerry's supporters say.

Here is an example of both sides from Factcheck.

Van O'Dell, a former Navy enlisted man who says he was the gunner on
another Swift Boat, states in his affidavit that he was "a few yards away" from
Kerry's boat on March 13, 1969 when Kerry pulled Rassman from the water.
According to the official medal citations, Kerry's boat was under enemy fire at
the time, and Kerry had been wounded when an enemy mine exploded near his own
boat. O'Dell insists "there was no fire" at the time, adding: "I did not hear
any shots, nor did any hostile fire hit any boats" other than his own,

Others in the ad back up that account. Jack Chenoweth, who was a
Lieutenant (junior grade) commanding PCF-3, said Kerry's boat "fled the
scene" after a mine blast disabled PCF-3, and returned only later "when it was
apparent that there was no return fire." And Larry Thurlow, who says he
commanded a third Swift Boat that day, says "Kerry fled while we stayed to
fight," and returned only later "after no return fire occurred."

None of those in the attack ad by the Swift Boat group actually served on Kerry's boat. And their statements are contrary to the accounts of Kerry and those who served under him.

Jim Rassmann was the Army Special Forces lieutenant whom Kerry plucked from the water. Rassmann has said all along that he was under sniper fire from both banks of the river when Kerry, wounded, helped him aboard. Rassmann is featured in an earlier Kerry ad, in fact, (see script at left) saying "he (Kerry) risked his life to save mine."

On Aug. 10, Rassmann wrote a vivid account of the rescue in the Wall Street Journal that contradicts the Kerry accusers. Rassmann said that after the first explosion that disabled PCF-3:
Rassmann: Machine-gun fire erupted from both banks of the river and a second explosion followed moments later. The second blast blew me off John's swift boat, PCF-94, throwing me into the river. Fearing that the other boats would run me over, I swam to the bottom of the river and stayed there as long as I could hold my breath.
When I surfaced, all the swift boats had left, and I was alone taking fire from both banks. To avoid the incoming fire I repeatedly swam under water as long as I could hold my breath, attempting to make it to the north bank of the river. I thought I would die right there. The odds were against me avoiding the incoming fire and, even if I made it out of the river, I thought I thought I'd be captured and executed. Kerry must have seen me in the water and directed his driver, Del Sandusky, to turn the boat around. Kerry's boat ran up to me in the water, bow on, and I was able to climb up a cargo net to the lip of the deck. But, because I was nearly upside down, I couldn't make it over the edge of the deck. This left me hanging out in the open, a perfect target. John, already wounded by the explosion that threw me off his boat, came out onto the bow, exposing himself to the fire directed at us from the jungle, and pulled me aboard.

This could have been written two ways. As it was presented, it gave the claim from the Swifties then presented the pro-Kerry version as a rebuttal. I could easily switch the two. On the one hand we have a man in the water, diving under to prevent being a target. On the other hand we have a nearby observer. Who is in a better position to see enemy fire?

FactCheck closes with this statement:

At this point, 35 years later and half a world away, we see no way to resolve
which of these versions of reality is closer to the truth.

While this is true, Kerry should at least have to justify himself a little more. After all, his service and his medals are centerpiece of his campaign. He owes it to us to justify them.

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