Okay, this is going to hurt. This election cycle produced one of the ugliest "scandal versus scandal" battles in recent memory. Why on Earth are we bickering about stuff that happened 30+ years ago??? Clearly, people want to focus on today's pressing issues (and there are many of those). But then, why did Kerry's numbers drop like a rock when the Swiftees came to town? Why did the Democratic National Committee launch Operation Fortunate Son? Why did Dan Rather use forged documents as the basis for a 60 Minutes story on the day that Operation Fortunate Son was launched? So many questions, so little time. Would you think I was crazy if I said that John Kerry and the Democratic Party are to blame for ALL of this? Stay with me, here...
President Bush and the Texas Air National Guard
This one is easy. It's a non-story. There is nothing about Bush's Guard record that is worth reporting. The simple truth is that Bush joined the Guard, fulfilled his obligations, and was honorably discharged. End of story. Not even worth a blurb on CNN's bottom line ticker. Did he get preferential treatment? Probably. Does that mean he's a bad guy? Or a bad pilot? A bad President? I don't think so. I'd like to meet a Kennedy who never received any "preferential treatment." (If you're really interested in this, read on. Otherwise skip down to the Swiftees)
It's all in the numbers, really. As a Guardsman, he was required to rack up at least 50 points per year in order to meet the minimum standards for service. Bush earned 253 points in his first year, May 1968 to May 1969 (since he joined in May 1968, his service thereafter was measured on a May-to-May basis). Bush earned 340 points in 1969-1970. He earned 137 points in 1970-1971. And he earned 112 points in 1971-1972. In his first four years, Bush not only showed up, he showed up a lot.
That brings the story to May 1972 — the time that has been the focus of so many news reports — when Bush “deserted” (according to Michael Moore) or went “AWOL” (Terry McAuliffe, chairman of the Democratic National Committee). Bush asked for permission to go to Alabama to work on a Senate campaign. His superior officers said OK. Requests like that weren’t unusual according to retired Col. William Campenni, who flew with Bush in 1970 and 1971. “In 1972, there was an enormous glut of pilots,” Campenni says. “The Vietnam War was winding down, and the Air Force was putting pilots in desk jobs. In ’72 or ’73, if you were a pilot, active or Guard, and you had an obligation and wanted to get out, no problem. In fact, you were helping them solve their problem.” So Bush stopped flying. From May 1972 to May 1973, he earned just 56 points — not much, but enough to meet his requirement.
Then, in 1973, as Bush made plans to leave the Guard and go to Harvard Business School, he again started showing up frequently. In June and July of 1973, he accumulated 56 points, enough to meet the minimum requirement for the 1973-1974 year. Then, at his request, he was given permission to go. Bush received an honorable discharge after serving five years, four months and five days of his original six-year commitment. By that time, however, he had accumulated enough points in each year to cover six years of service.
During his service, Bush received high marks as a pilot. A 1970 evaluation said Bush “clearly stands out as a top notch fighter interceptor pilot” and was “a natural leader whom his contemporaries look to for leadership.” A 1971 evaluation called Bush “an exceptionally fine young officer and pilot” who “continually flies intercept missions with the unit to increase his proficiency even further.” And a 1972 evaluation called Bush “an exceptional fighter interceptor pilot and officer.” I know, I know- you're thinking- "Wow, how does 2Slick know all this stuff?" It's out there, folks. The truth is in the blogosphere. I found this gem of a rundown on the Drudge Retort of all places- posted by some guy named RickyD. Brit Hume of Fox News fame did an excellent piece that contained all these same facts. Dan Rather and Mary Mapes spent 5 years going after this story- I'm sure they'd love to tell us all about their research, but they're probably not allowed to talk about it since they're under investigation for fraud (re: forged memos). Terry McAuliffe launched Operation Fortunate Son the same day the story aired. Joe Lockhart spoke with Mary Mapes and her "source" on a few occasions. Let's blame the Democrats and CBS for this one.
The worst thing about all this? When's the last time you heard Bush say "Vote for me because I was a great Guard pilot!" You've never heard him say that- and so it should have never been an issue...
The reason John Kerry's Vietnam service record is an issue is quite simple- Kerry made it an issue. He correctly assumed that the Democrats would favor him as "the candidate who could defeat Bush" if he ran on a "tough guy / combat vet" platform (a war hero candidate to lead us in the War on Terror) . He put out a book called Tour of Duty that drew immediate criticism and concern from many of the officers and sailors that served with him. They formed a group (now it's called the Swift Boat Veterans and POW's for Truth) and made 2 very simple demands:
1) Apologize for his outrageously false claims about war crimes in 1971 (war crimes were committed on a day-to-day basis with the full knowledge of superior officers and it was widespread and a matter of policy, etc...).
2) Sign the Form 180, so the world could see that he lied about much of the "heroism" that he boasted about in his book. Douglas Brinkley, author of Tour of Duty, has also called for Kerry to sign the Form 180- he now believes Kerry lied to him.
Senator Kerry has not met either of these demands.
There are plenty of "red flags" that we military folks recognized immediatly. The first and most obvious "flag"- 3 Purple Hearts in four months and not a scratch on him. This is hard to do. Try to find someone else who accomplished this feat. Trust me, you won't find anyone else.
All those medals! Want to know the best way to determine if someone was a real war hero? Well, if you're trying to determine, then chances are that person is a hero. Real heroes don't usually talk about their medals. Real heroes never use their medals for any type of personal gain. Real heroes NEVER use their medals to make a political statement. John Kerry did all of these things. John Kerry used his medals to protest a war (I threw them at the White House), and he used those same medals to bolster his status as a war hero Presidential candidate (read my book!). This is very suspicious activity. It makes anyone with a military background wonder, "How did he get those medals?"
The Swiftees succeeded in exposing Kerry's "Cambodia" lie. No need to go into that one. Senator Kerry lied on the Senate floor as he tried to affect national policy, and he doesn't even deny it.
The fact that Kerry did not earn his first Purple Heart is a slam dunk that could easily be proven if Kerry would only sign that Form 180. Trust me- he won't sign that form.
The Silver Star is just bizarre. I'm not saying he didn't earn it- but I'll be the first one to say that it sure seems fishy. Read about it here.
The Bronze Star controversy is more difficult and more complicated than the others. The media claims that the Swiftees' claims against Kerry in this case are "unsubstantiated" because "official Navy documents" support Kerry's version of events. While common citizens find this to be a reasonable assessment, we military folks laugh out loud at such an assertion. For example, I could type up a false report right now (without ever leaving my desk) that my boss would readily believe, send up the chain, and by next week I'd have a Purple Heart and Silver Star with plenty of "official Army documents" to support them. If one of my coworkers were to say, "Hey wait a minute! You didn't rescue six children from a car bomber!" I'd say, "Sure I did- I've got plenty of 'official documents' that prove it. Wanna touch my medals?" I'm not saying Kerry never left his desk- clearly he was out there on the boat that day. Eyewitness accounts vary, which is common when all hell breaks loose and gunshots echo all around. But the reality is that there is no way that it happened the way Kerry claims it happened. No damage to the boats. Not a single bullet wound on any of the sailors. If you doubt that Kerry wrote his own citation for that Bronze Star, I'd ask you to read this. I assure you- he gave himself that Bronze Star.
Enough about the medals. Here's why I think he's Unfit for Command:
John Kerry served more than most and should therefore be honored, right? WRONG! How about our "heroic soldiers" who abused the prisoners in Iraq and took photos for all the world to see? They served more than most people. Like Kerry, some of them performed an act of courage here and there. Should they be honored? To make a blanket statement along the lines of "anyone who served should be honored" is just plain ignorant. There are bad apples in every bunch, and the sad truth is that there is a small minority of soldiers in every American war that did more to hurt the cause than to help. John Kerry is one of those bad apples. "Why" you ask? Well, it has nothing to do with the fact that he lied to get medals.
As a leader/officer in wartime, one must ensure that soldiers know one thing above all else- that their leaders are looking out for them. The soldiers must believe that the ones in charge will devote every last breath, drop of blood, bead of sweat to ensure the soldiers' safety during the course of the mission. John Kerry did no such thing. He got 3 band-aid wounds, and promptly headed home. Remember- 3 purple hearts gave one the choice to leave- it was not obligatory. What kind of message did that send to his sailors and all the other enlisted sailors in his unit? I'll tell you what message it sent- "officers look out for themselves." Officers will get rattled and say "OK good luck guys! I'm outta here!!"
Apparently a handful (maybe 9 out of about 300?) of the sailors he served with have forgiven him. Understandable, given the fact that he delivered those troops a national cheering audience that was more than 30 years overdue (at the DNC). But I'll tell you who will NEVER forgive him for what he did- the officers who served with him. He complicated their efforts, he hurt their unit's morale, he put their lives in danger, and he quickly rubbed salt in their wounds by coming home and bashing the ones who were brave enough to stay behind and do their duty. He had an anti-war agenda before he even joined the Navy. He used his credibility as an officer to propagate outrageous theories that hurt the ones who were still held captive, and caused years of unfair bias and hard feelings toward thousands of brave and honorable vets after they returned home.
He did all of this in order to win political fame and favor in the Democratic Party. It was his ticket to the big time, and he cashed it without a second thought. Reprehensible in every sense of the word. Say what you want about whether or not he deserved his medals- I could care less. As a leader in the US Military, he was an insult to our profession. He would have served his country much better by never having gone to Vietnam.
Ollie North wrote him a letter that makes me think he and I are on the same page with all this.
The mainstream media, for the most part, completely shunned the Swiftees (now called the Swift Boat Veterans and POW's for Truth)- dismissing them as Republican operatives who were thoroughly debunked and discredited. Nevertheless, the Swiftees still managed to bring Kerry's campaign to a grinding halt in mid-August. The reason for this is simple- they are not Republicans- they are highly decorated and honorable men who have valid reasons for disliking John Kerry. The media has done everything in its power to deny this fact, but the American people are too smart for the liberal smokescreen.
John Kerry called the Swiftees into action. I'm glad they showed up.
Zarqawi in a Bind
Before I go- remember what I said recently about Zarqawi's hard luck? Well, it looks like the famous Instapundit finally caught up to me. Check it out- it's good stuff...
Enjoy the last debate tonight!