Sunday, August 15, 2004

The biggest issue of them all

Several of my recent posts have dealt with the Kerry Christmas in Cambodia story. This story has been circulating the blogosphere for a good 10 days now, and even found it's way in to mainstream media early last week. Enough rumblings were made about it that the Kerry camp was forced to "step back" from their candidate's frequent and public claims of spending Christmas Eve 1968 in Cambodia.

I find it very interesting that the majority of media outlets--the big three of the television networks, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the L.A. Times, the list goes on and on--still have not run item 1 about this development. Other media outlets--talk shows and the like--have resorted to attacking the Swift Boat Vets for Truth (the group of veterans behind the book "Unfit for Command", where the Cambodia allegations surfaced), trying to establish a "credibility shortcoming" with that group. But does anybody deal with the allegations and the retraction that has already occured because of the allegations? Of course not.

Kerry's recent campaigning, and the media coverage of it, has all dealt with the "issues" of the day. Health care, education, security on the homefront, etc.--you know the list. They frame the attacks from the SBVT as something that can be ignored because it deals with the past, not the future, and the election should be about the future, right?

But there is one issue, in my opinion the biggest issue, of this upcoming election that is dealt with directly by the SBVT. The issue, my friends, is credibility. The SBVT did not organize to attack Kerry's service IN VIETNAM (well, not JUST to do that), but rather to bring to light some inconsistencies in Kerry's record that show him as a less-than-evenhanded political operative for over 30 years now.

If you don't think that credibility is an issue in the President's office, just harken back a couple months to when the left was screaming EVERY DAY about how Bush had lied to put this country's armed forces in Iraq. For months, it was all that the press could talk about. That nonsense has simmered down a bit, thanks to the commissions that showed that the President dealt honestly with the information that he was given, and that he and his administration did not exert any influence over the collection and presentation of that information. But for several months, the argument put forth by the left was that this President had shot his credibility, and therefore could not be a reliable leader for the next four years.

All those campaign "issues" that the left like to focus on from the Kerry camp? They mean NOTHING if the candidate is not credible. He can support, in words, any number of great plans to appeal to the voters. But what will he actually seek to do if given the reigns to the Oval Office? How can anyone know that a campaign promise means ANYthing if the man speaking them has proven to be less than credible?

One cannot establish credibility without having research performed into the past actions of a candidate. While it would be GREAT to just assume a candidate is credible from the get-to, that would be foolish most of the time (what a sad truth that is), and ESPECIALLY foolish now that Kerry has already found it necessary to backtrack from claims he's made several times over the years about memories that were "seared" into his brain.

Of course, candidate Kerry COULD make the job of investigating the SBVT claims really easy--if he would just release ALL of his military records. It would take the crack team at the WaPo about 2 days to compare the charges put forth by the Swiftees to the record currently being protected by Kerry. Why does he (Kerry) protect his record so?

What does the playing of this cat-and-mouse game tell you about the candidate's credibility?

Let me reiterate: credibility IS an issue--in fact, one could argue that it is THE issue!

Credibility DOES NOT deal with how anyone SERVED in a war 35 years ago.

Credibility DOES, however, directly deal with how anyone has REPRESENTED their actions in that war for the last 35 years. The words of today are an important epilogue to the actions of yesterday. Bravery in uniform means little without the moral strength to portray those brave acts in a just and honest manner--especially if you use those acts as inspiration for a lifetime of public service.

And there's only one way to give us a full picture of the representation that this man gave to his heroic acts of yesteryear: let us see the records.

Until that time, we are forced to deal with a less-than-forthcoming candidate. My personal take: mysterious and evasive doth not credible make. In fact, an unwillingness to support your actions of the past can do nothing but emotionally paralyze you when faced with necessary actions in the future.

And in these times, the last thing we need in the Oval Office is an emotionally paralyzed figurehead who can't even be honest about the things he has actually experienced.


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