Thursday, August 12, 2004

Glenn Reynolds Credulity Award

The inaugural one goes to...Glenn Reynolds. He's spent most of the past week giving as much play as he could to the SBVF"T." This entry is typical. He's upset that the Times and the Post haven't covered the Kerry in Cambodia stuff, and he's determined to provide a corrective. That's his prerogative. Glenn's also absolutely failed to mention the fact that U.S. soldiers actually were sent into Cambodia as early as 1967, and that the official government line on this was that it didn't happen, so that a government report saying that Kerry wasn't in Cambodia is, well, not proof of anything. Was Kerry actually in Cambodia? I don't know, and neither does Glenn. Was Kerry exactly right about a secret and illegal invasion? Of course he was. Did Henry Kissinger lie to Congress in the first move on the domestic front in that effort? He surely did. Again, Glenn's free to omit any of this. But he needs to quit whining about the print media, and quickly.

In another moment of self-parody, Reynolds takes the Post to task for this editorial, which essentially calls a smear a smear and points out several discrediting inconsistencies in the SBVF"T" story. Uh, yeah. I thought Reynolds wanted a rebuttal of the SBVF"T" on the merits, instead of a mere exposition of John O'Neill as a Nixon hatchet man and Jerome Corsi as a pathological racist and anti-Semite. Well the WaPo provided the beginning of that rebuttal. Did Reynolds read it, or not?

Things Glenn Reynolds has failed to acknowledge about Unfit For Command:
  1. Its authors are...well, re-read the last sentence of the preceding paragraph. Moreover, O'Neill was recruited by the Nixon administration specifically in order to discredit John Kerry's now vindicated Senate testimony. He has spent 33 years pursuing a vendetta against Kerry. How is that not relevant?
  2. The funds for the SBVF"T" were provided by partisan Republicans trying to re-elect George W. Bush. Again, how is that not relevant?
  3. The meta-narrative of Unfit For Command expects us to believe that Kerry's testimony about atrocities in Vietnam was untrue, but that Kerry himself perpetrated war crimes. O'Neill said on the Dick Cavett show and elsewhere at the time that he had never seen an atrocity. I guess that makes sense if Kerry was the sole war criminal in that entire enterprise, since O'Neill never served with Kerry or knew him when they were both in Vietnam.
  4. O'Neill and Corsi further expect us to believe that Kerry was able to manufacture his awards diabolically through deceitful combat reports and manipulation. This means that either A) (again) John Kerry was a uniquely operatic villain during the war, or B) the system was subject to easy manipulation, and therefore all Vietnam War awards are potentially suspicious.
  5. O'Neill and Corsi claim that John Kerry wrote up all of his own award recommendations. We already know that to be false. Jim Rassman recommended Kerry for a Silver Star (he was given a Bronze Star).
  6. O'Neill and Corsi repeatedly claim that the veterans they've assembled were eyewitnesses to Kerry's behavior, and observed him from nearby. But the fact of the matter is that none of them saw him in action from less than a few hundred yards away, only one of them actually served on a boat with him, and many of their conclusions about him are admittedly drawn purely from reading secondary sources long after the fact.
  7. The commanders who are criticizing Kerry today have been silent about him for the last 35 years. Many of them gave him glowing evaluations when he was in the service. Here's one from George Elliott, Kerry's former CO: "In a combat environment often requiring independent, decisive action, LTJG Kerry was unsurpassed." Were they lying then or are they lying now?
  8. Dr. Louis Letson, who claims that the wound for which Kerry received one of his purple hearts was undeserving of the award, and who also claims to have treated Kerry for that wound, is not recognized by the official naval records as the man who treated Kerry---a deceased Dr. Carreon is. Why on earth should we believe him? If anybody at all contradicts the record without any supporting evidence, does that mean their allegations are true until proven otherwise? If so, I was at the Alabama National Guard Base in 1972 and I know for a fact that George W. Bush deserted. Okay, that doesn't work since I was born in 1983. Anyone care to bet that someone who really was there and has an axe to grind could be goaded into making a false allegation about Bush?
  9. Larry Thurlow claims that John Kerry doesn't deserve his Bronze Star for saving Rassman's life because the swift boat, Thurlow claims, was not under fire. But Thurlow himself received a Bronze Star in the same mission. Again, either lying then or lying now. Kerry's crewmates say that the boat was under fire. So does the written evidence.
  10. All the documentary evidence from that period, including some reports and evaluations written by the men now attacking Kerry, as well as the actual first-hand testimony from Kerry's actual crewmates, vindicates Kerry's account. We are expected to believe, on the basis of nothing but contradictory claims separated from Kerry's behavior by hundreds of yards and 35 years, that none of that evidence is true. Further, we are expected to believe that Kerry had so much power about decisions in the navy that he could engineer awards for himself that had no basis in his actions. Right.
  11. On the Bronze Star story, Unfit For Command claims that Kerry actually fled the scene of combat and returned only when it was safely over. If so, then Kerry and Rassman did not just embellish the record---they actually collaborated to turn an episode of abject cowardice into one of heroism. What possible interest could Rassman, Kerry's crewmates, and his commanding officers possibly have in giving him an award for fleeing combat? None, of course. Either O'Neill and Corsi are lying or the navy just handed out medals at random.
Who cares, though, really, since the important thing is which side of the Vietnam/Cambodia border Kerry was on in December 1968.


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