Thursday, August 12, 2004

I'm a little wrapped around the axle this morning about this whole Kerry/Cambodia business. I think that Kerry's handling of the issue sheds an awful lot of light on how his mind works--and it certainly isn't a light that the left wanted to have setting the backdrop for their candidate this month.

Background: hey, if you've read this blog before, you know the Cambodia story and the Swift Boat Vets' assertions against a Cambodian Christmas for Kerry. After almost a weekend of blogosphere rumblings on the Senator's apparently falsely-"seared"-in memory of where his Christmas Eve 1968 was actually spent, the major media finally picked up on it late-afternoon Monday with a report from Carl Cameron on FoxNews. The Kerry camp INITIALLY denied that Kerry had ever said he was in Cambodia! When presented with the record from the Senate floor of a speech Kerry gave in 1986 when he spoke of his Christmas/Cambodia tale, the Kerryists essentially said, "um, we'll get back to you". And the response was overwhelming--silence for 36 hours!!! On Wednesday, the Kerry camp sent adviser Jeh Johnson to the talk show circuit to say, basically, that the Cambodia mission did NOT happen on Christmas Eve, but that Kerry is certain that he was in Cambodia at some point in time.

So I go back to the one of my three questions I wrote about several posts ago: did Kerry actually see action in Cambodia? His camp doesn't seem to be able to verify through documentation that he did. And I'm willing to bet that the Kerryists have spent a LOT of time over the last couple days trying to find someone who will take the stand and say that without a doubt Kerry's boat was in Cambodia--obviously to no avail.

And wouldn't it be nice if Kerry himself would answer the charges? Not Johnson, who apparently was given three lines that he should repeat over and over in a trance-like state, and not Lanny Davis, who was pulled out of the mothballs of the Clinton administration to spin this story in Kerry's direction on MSNBC last night--but from the candidate himself. These attacks are attacks on HIM, his REPUTATION, his SERVICE as a United States Senator, and his INTEGRITY. And how does he respond? Very slowly. And when his campaign finally decided to "mount" a defense, he sent staffers out to fight this war against his name. A personal attack by fellow veterans against statements that he has made on the record, and Kerry can't be bothered to personally get involved in the game? Listen, if you make your service record the centerpiece of your argument as to why you would be a good choice for Commander in Chief, don't you think you ought to do SOMETHING to defend that record when (what appears to be) legitimate attacks are made against it? You can "nuance" your way into being "above that level of debate" all you want--the bottom line is that sometimes you have to take up the fight yourself. Kerry's lack of engagement to defend his record--pretty much his entire qualification to lead this country in time of war--speak volumes about the kind of decision-making and strong will he'd bring to the White House.

And let's talk about the kind of defense he mounted: very weak. If he was in Cambodia, then yesterday Mr. Johnson should have had detailed information of those cross-border missions to throw out in public. I mean, what had the Kerry team been working on for the last 36 hours? Making the press do research to disprove statements may be a good strategy, given the free ride the media has largely given him so far, but eventually some reporter is going to think more about his/her career than this election, and that reporter is going to do the research necessary to blow this latest ruse wide open. ASSUMING that Kerry never found himself in Cambodian waters, yesterday his campaign should have totally disassociated itself from that claim. It would have been worth 2 days of negative press--in AUGUST--but then the story would be over. Instead, and again assuming that Kerry was never in Cambodia, his camp decides to half-retract the story as it was known a week ago--thereby adding fuel to the issue TODAY! It's not just where he was 35 years ago, or what he said on the Senate floor 18 years ago--it's now a CURRENT issue that illustrates clearly the kind of character this man is made of. And again, it's not exactly the kind of an illustration that makes one automatically think of the word "Presidential", is it?

No matter how you cut it, the Kerry camp blew this one. Either they were slow to defend their candidate's claims of missions into Cambodia, or they were foolish to believe that a half-retraction would be enough to satiate the wolves from the right. One side shows them as incompetent; the other has them as out-of-touch and not fully understanding of the threat to their candidate. Exactly which of these images is the one we should want to have hold the job of President in time of war?


Post a Comment

<< Home