August 16, 2004


Last Wednesday Kerry spokesman Michael Meehan sent me a statement saying that “During John Kerry’s service in Vietnam, many times he was on or near the Cambodian border and on one occasion crossed into Cambodia. . . . On December 24, 1968 Lieutenant John Kerry and his crew were on patrol in the watery borders between Vietnam and Cambodia deep in enemy territory.” I asked for clarification as to whether the “one occasion” was Christmas Eve 1968. “No,” was the reply.

“Watery borders” is something of an evasion, intended to imply that Mr. Kerry’s “seared” memory might have been easily confused. But according to both the maps and the testimony of swift vets, the Mekong doesn’t run along the Cambodian border but bisects it, such that the coincidence between the two is obvious. In any case, Mr. Kerry’s own journal, as cited in Douglas Brinkley’s biography, records him being 50-some miles from the border at Sa Dec on that day contemplating visions of “sugar plums.”

Does this matter? Well, if President Bush was found to be using tall tales from his National Guard days to justify his policies in the war on terror it would certainly attract some attention. So the would-be commander in chief can hardly complain of being subject to scrutiny, especially since he’s joined in criticism of Mr. Bush’s war record and made his own a campaign centerpiece. Never mind the anti-Kerry swiftees. So far the veteran whose testimony is doing John Kerry the most damage is . . . John Kerry.

Jim Wooten has more thoughts, in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

UPDATE: Comparisons of how the media treated the Bush/AWOL claims with the non-coverage of the Cambodia story — even after the Kerry campaign has admitted its falsity — can be found here and here. The double standard is pretty amazing.

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