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August 11, 2004

CHRISTMAS IN CAMBODIA: James Lileks comes up with the proper analogy:

Hugh Hewitt interviewed a shipmate of John Kerry’s on his show today; the transcript is here. Why this happens on a radio show and not in the Washington Post is a question I’ll let you decide. It’s not like these guys live in the Fortress of Solitude, accessible only by messages relayed by carrier pigeon.

It has to do with Christmas in Cambodia – the only aspect of the SwiftVets story I care to comment on, for reasons I think I stated before. 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. In other words, it would not only be a lie, but one that eroded the political persona he was relying upon in the election. . . . What sort of man bedecked with genuine decorations feels compelled to manufacture a story like this one?

Yes. (Emphasis added.) More thoughts here. I think that the Big Media hang-back on this is significant. It shows that there's not an easy explanation -- how can there be, when Kerry has told different, and mutually inconsistent, stories -- and that they think it will really hurt him.

Covering for him, though, will really hurt them. In fact, it already is, as Evan Thomas's statement is repeated throughout the land.

UPDATE: Reader Bob Kagan emails:

If you think there is a problem with Kerry using his four months as a Swift boat commander as the seminal experience of his life, what do make of George Bush's "born again" experience as the seminal experience of his life, which up to that point, had consisted of a mediocre academic career, mediocre (being kind) business career, and serious problems of alcohol abuse. Say what you will, agree with him or not, Kerry has been trying to make a difference in the direction of American policy since he was a young man. He did it on his own. He has earned his place in the debate. GWB is a Jonny come lately to the party. No one would ever accuse him of policy depth (although he does have "principals") and he spent his formative years trying to find out what it means to be formed.

The Swift boat charges would have substance if they just dealt with the issue of Kerry coming back as an anti-war protester. That is a legitimate debate. The commercial is deceptive and non substantive on its face although as a matter of political theatre it is extremely effective

Well, I haven't heard anyone suggest that Bush's Christianity is insincere. In fact, the rap on Bush from the left is that he's too sincere, making him some sort of an aspiring theocrat.

As for Kerry's "making a difference" in the years since 1968 -- so why isn't he talking about that?