What's the bottom line about Kerry's Cambodia campaign?:
- No document supports the story. In fact, as I've previously detailed, the official records, his flattering biographer and Kerry's own diary say he spent Christmas eve 1968 in and near Sa Dec. As Powerline documents, that's squarely in Vietnam, no closer to Cambodia than to the South China Sea. According to Just One Minute reader "RiverRat" [G. Thomas Mortensen, BM2, USN retired; not affiliated with the other Swiftboat Vets]--who claims a year's service with Navy Riverine forces beginning in November 1968 (when Kerry arrived in-country):
Sa Dec is about 56 miles from the Cambodian Border. That's about 3 1/2 hours by Swift boat.
- No Swiftboat vet remembers Cambodia. The just-published book by former Swifties, "Unfit for Duty" is emphatic; Tuesday's Washington Times quotes this passage:
All the living commanders in Kerry's chain of command--Joe Streuhli (Commander of CosDiv 13), George Elliott (Commander of CosDiv 11), Adrian Lonsdale (Captain, USCG and Commander, Coastal Surveillance Center at An Thoi), Rear Admiral Roy Hoffmann (Commander, Coastal Surveillance Force Vietnam, CTF 115), and Rear Admiral Art Price (Commander of River Patrol Force, CTF 116)--deny that Kerry was ever ordered to Cambodia. They indicate that Kerry would have been seriously disciplined or court-martialed had he gone there. At least three of the five crewmen on Kerry's PCF 44 boat--Bill Zaldonis, Steven Hatch, and Steve Gardner--deny that they or their boat were ever in Cambodia. The remaining two crewmen declined to be interviewed for this book. Gardner, in particular, will never forget those days in late December when he was wounded on PCF 44, not in Cambodia, but many miles away in Vietnam.Steve Gardner confirmed this in an interview with Blogger-pundit Hugh Hewitt. Gardner served on John Kerry's swift boat from November 1968 through January 1969:
HH: When you were on the boat, did you ever go into Cambodian waters?
SG: Absolutely not.
HH: Now you served with [Kerry] on Christmas Eve 1968, correct?
SG: That is correct.
HH: What did you do on Christmas Eve 1968?
SG: Well, I damn sure wasn't in Cambodia, I'll tell you that.
HH: (Laughter) Do you remember?
SG: We were basically just down in the lower part of the Sa Dec. [J]ust patrolling.
- It wasn't a CIA assignment. Kerry occasionally claims he was ordered to Cambodia as part of a CIA "special mission." Needless to say, there's no record; the government issued an official denial. And other Navy vets contradict Kerry as well, including Steve Gardner, who spent December 24, 1968 on Kerry's boat,
HH: Now, Steve Gardner, John Kerry has also been discovered to have been telling a story that he took a CIA man at least one CIA man into Cambodia and that he kept his hat. When you were on the boat with John Kerry, for your two months and two weeks of the tour that he served, did you ever have a CIA man on board?
SG: Number one, no.
HH: Did you ever take anyone to Cambodia and drop them off?
SG: Categorically no.
HH: Did you get near Cambodia and drop anybody off?
SG: The closest we can get to Cambodia, and that's a long swim, is 50 miles.
- The Kerry campaign fudged, then jumped ship. According to Fox News, Elvis has left the building:
The Kerry campaign first asserted that the Massachusetts senator never said that he was in Cambodia, only that he was near the country. But when presented with a copy of the Congressional Record and asked about Kerry's letter in the Boston Herald, the campaign said it would come up with an explanation. After repeated phone calls, there was still no clarification.And Humanevents quotes a Kerry campaign spokesman interviewed by Fox today:
I believe he has corrected the record to say it was some place near Cambodia he is not certain whether it was in Cambodia but he is certain there was some point subsequent to that that he was in Cambodia.So, he wasn't there except when he was--that's nuanced deniability.
- So what's it all mean?
First, It's clear beyond cavil Kerry lies. If not simply invented, his "experiences" are distorted and embellished.
Second, Kerry's policies and proposals are founded on fictitious memories. Remember GIGO--"garbage-in, garbage-out?" Kerry's the poster child. So it's more than mere "divergent recollections," as James Pinkerton insists in Newsday (Long Island). James Lileks says it best:
If Kerry’s story is a lie, it’s significant, but not because we have a gotcha moment – gee, a politician reworked the truth to his advantage, big surprise. This is much larger than that. This is like Bush insisting that he flew an intercept mission with the Texas Air National Guard to repel Soviet bombers based in Cuba, and later stating that this event was “seared in his memory – seared” because it taught him the necessity of standing up against evil governments, such as the ones we face today.Finally, Kerry's conduct is consistent--but bizarre. The Senator's a frequent flip-flop flyer, and molds his memory to suit. Which is why he's clueless when confronted with contrary evidence--Kerry flushed it down the memory hole years ago. Mark Steyn supplies real-world context:
[W]ith Kerry, even before any gaffes or scandals, the official narrative makes no sense. He's publicly opposed to the Vietnam War. But he volunteers for it. Then he comes back disgusted with his experience in war, publicly hurls his medals away (or someone else's: that story keeps changing), denounces his fellow veterans as war criminals, torturers and rapists, and claims that he personally committed atrocities.
But then he decides to run for president and suddenly Jane Fonda morphs into John Wayne and all those war criminals are war heroes he wants at every rally and he's got his medals back and his disgust at his wartime experience has mysteriously turned into pride in his wartime experience to the exclusion of all else.
If Steven Spielberg, Barbra Streisand or any of his other Hollywood supporters got a script like that, they'd send it to rewrite.
I love happy endings.