Man Without Qualities

Monday, April 19, 2004

Pathetic ... And Bound To Lose XXVI: The Near-Apology

In a prior post, the Man Without Qualities noted:

At some point Senator Kerry is going to have to stop misrepresenting his antiwar statements and outright apologize for some of them - especially his assertions to Congress that American soldiers were routinely war criminals.

Senator Kerry isn't quite there, yet. But he orbited a bit closer to earth yesterday, as the New York Times reports:

Senator John Kerry on Sunday distanced himself from contentious statements he made three decades ago after returning from the Vietnam War, saying his long-ago use of the word "atrocities" to describe his and others' actions was inappropriate and "a little bit excessive."

"If you wanted to ask me, `Have you ever made mistakes in your life?' sure," Mr. Kerry, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, said in an hourlong interview on the NBC program "Meet the Press." "I think some of the language that I used was a language that reflected an anger."

The near-apology came after the host, Tim Russert, played videotape of Mr. Kerry, in 1971, acknowledging that he had participated in shooting in free-fire zones, burning villages and search-and-destroy missions. All those actions were "contrary to the laws of warfare" and the Geneva Conventions, he said then. Republicans have seized on those comments, and accusations about war crimes the young Mr. Kerry made in testimony before a Senate committee, to try to undercut his war credentials. "The words were honest," Mr. Kerry said Sunday, "but on the other hand, they were a little bit over the top."

Obviously, his accusations (personal admissions?) of "war crimes" and "atrocities" in this context are a good deal more than "inappropriate" and "a little bit excessive" - and, contrary to the Times' spin, they are not just "old." Over the years the Senator has repeatedly refreshed his accusations by refusing to disavow them. But the forces that have already moved him to what the Times calls this "near-apology" will eventually impose huge costs on him unless he clearly and actually apologizes for his hideous, opportunistic accusations against other Americans serving in Vietnam. Unless that apology is delivered well before the first candidate debate of the campaign Senator Kerry should expect this issue to pin him down for many awkward minutes in front of tens of millions of voters. Of course, an apology for baloney Senator Kerry has been reaffirming for thirty years has its own electoral consequences.

Senator Kerry sails onwards towards a Sylla and Charybdis of his own creation - and he is no Odysseus.

But the Senator has bigger problems. Can there be any doubt that if a Republican had characterized Senator Kerry's contentous comments in even the near-apologetic terms he employed, his rapid-response team would have sprung into action and complained that the Republicans were again "questioning his patriotism" and that he is getting darn sick of it and isn't going to take it anymore!

How dare Senator Kerry impugn his own patriotism and challenge his own military record this way! Yes, yes - Senator Kerry's comments yesterday are yet more evidence that the Republicans have planted a mole - indeed, a "Bush henchman" - at the very top of the Kerry campaign organization.

Comments: Post a Comment