Man Without Qualities

Friday, August 13, 2004

A Little Bit Of Cambodia In My Life IV

According to DRUDGE:

TOUR OF DUTY author and John Kerry historian Doug Brinkley is rushing a piece for the NEW YORKER... [which] will now say that Kerry was not in Cambodia during Christmas, but rather in January.
One certainly can't fault the junior senator from Massachusetts and his supporters, such as Mr. Brinkley, for want of imagination. It's interesting that Senator Kerry is not reported to be planning to personally refute his Christmas-in-Cambodia critics with this revised story, but is running it through Mr. Brinkley. All the better if the story requires further supplementing!

The Telegraph provides additional indications that Kerry-Edwards is moving towards the expected story: "we were so close to Cambodia that we didn't know if we were there or not." [Link via Instapundit.] If DRUDGE is right, then presumably this Telegraph story will complement the New Yorker article to form a new generalized claim that young John Kerry moved from near Cambodia in late December to a position in Cambodia within a few weeks.

How will the Senator back up this new claim? - especially given the rather emphatic and general denials of his Cambodia activities that have been issued by people who were also in Southeast Asia at the time. Will the Senator call on his "band of brothers" for their further testimony? If so, why did they not say anything until now? Perhaps the new version will have Senator Kerry dispatched to Cambodia in the company of that hat-wielding CIA operative and out of the company of his brothers? If so, will the Senator pull that CIA operative out of his briefcase, like a magician pulling a rabbit out of his hat? We'll have to wait and buy that New Yorker!

Having this new story transmitted or corroborated in part or whole by the band of brothers (if that is the Kerry plan) - might be very expensive if, as Instapundit suggests, other evidence (a map!) definitively shows that all or part of the story is absurd. And if Kerry's Swift-boat crew mates are mustered to defend the Senator from "Christmas-in-Cambodia" criticisms, and if their testimony on that point can be cleanly shown to be knowingly false or so absurd as to demonstrate willful indifference to the truth, the general credibility of those brothers might be seriously and generally discredited. Such a clean showing of knowing falsehood or deliberate indifference to the truth has not yet been accomplished. But the credibility of Kerry's brothers has not been previously explicitly questioned, at least not widely - even on the right by many who view Senator Kerry's own credibility with increasing skepticism. The consequences of a loss of brotherly credibility would be a serious blow to Kerry-Edwards. Consider, for example, the Washington Post's editorial:

[A] new assault on Mr. Kerry -- in an ad by a group calling itself Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and in a new book -- crosses the line in branding Mr. Kerry a coward and a liar. This smear is contradicted by Mr. Kerry's crew mates, undercut by the previous statements of some of those now making the charges and tainted by the chief source of its funding: Republican activists dedicated to defeating Mr. Kerry in November.
If brotherly credibility is reduced, the Post's other two factors don't vanish - but they have pretty limited persuasive effect. More generally, if the credibility of the band of brothers is thought to be somewhat questionable, voters will have further grounds to ignore the four month long Southeast Asian bit of John Kerry's life.

And that would be a good thing.

MORE: Of course, any undermining of brotherly credibility would just be in addition to all the other "squirrelly and unsettling and not quite right" aspects of Senator Kerry's autobiography, as Tom Maguire ably summarises.

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