- The Washington Times - Monday, February 23, 2004

Kerry’s denial

Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry has denied ever accusing American troops of committing war crimes in Vietnam. But his remarks during an interview on CNN on Thursday are at odds with the excerpts of a book that Mr. Kerry authored in 1971, Marc Morano reports at www.CNSNews.com.

“The New Soldier,” which is so difficult to find that it was selling on the Internet for about $850, featured the following passage by Mr. Kerry about his experiences in Vietnam: “We were sent to Vietnam to kill Communism. But we found instead that we were killing women and children.”

In the book, Mr. Kerry stated that Vietnamese citizens “didn’t even know the difference between communism and democracy,” and he blamed the United States for causing chaos in Vietnam.

“In the process we created a nation of refugees, bomb craters, amputees, orphans, widows and prostitutes, and we gave new meaning to the words of the Roman historian Tacitus: ‘Where they made a desert they called it peace,’” Mr. Kerry wrote.

But when asked by CNN anchor Judy Woodruff on Thursday about reports that he had accused “American troops of war crimes,” Mr. Kerry issued a denial.

“No, I was accusing American leaders of abandoning the troops. And if you read what I said, it is very clearly an indictment of leadership. I said to the Senate, ‘Where is the leadership of our country?’ And it’s the leaders who are responsible, not the soldiers. I never said that. I’ve always fought for the soldiers,” he said.

Mr. Kerry was referring to his testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in April 1971 as part of his involvement with the antiwar group Vietnam Veterans Against the War.

But “The New Soldier” reveals Mr. Kerry’s direct criticism of American soldiers, including charges that they committed atrocities against the Vietnamese while on patrol.

Edwards’ record

“During his campaign for the Democratic nomination, Sen. John Edwards has been a trial lawyer arguing for his client’s cause as he did in private practice for 20 years,” Kate O’Beirne writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

“The stump speech that we’re told wows audiences is the senator’s summation on behalf of his present client — his candidacy. As I have previously noted, John Edwards is now passionately railing against the unconscionable divide between the rich and poor Americas. The reason he seems more advocate-for-hire than committed activist for the poor is that he kept his current burning desire to redress this gross inequality in check when he could have been launching his own version of a war on poverty,” Mrs. O’Beirne said.

“Sen. Edwards was elected in 1998. By my count, during his first four years in the Senate, he introduced a single bill aimed at alleviating material poverty. Apparently unmoved by the plight of the urban poor, in 2000, and again in 2002, Edwards introduced a bill to promote the development of affordable rental housing in rural areas. That’s it. And, the emotional exhortations on behalf the poor that are his standard fare on the campaign trail must represent a wholly new John Edwards to his Senate colleagues. While pet causes are typically the stuff of Senate speeches, Sen. Edwards appears to have kept his current obsession to himself.”

Betraying sources

The Wall Street Journal, in an editorial, expresses astonishment that so many in the media now want columnist Robert Novak to abandon journalistic principle and reveal who in the White House told him that the wife of Joseph C. Wilson IV worked for the CIA.

Mr. Wilson, a National Security Council member in the Clinton administration, was asked by the government — apparently on his wife’s recommendation — to go to Niger and investigate whether Iraq had attempted to buy uranium yellowcake there. Mr. Wilson, an outspoken supporter of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry, subsequently wrote an op-ed piece in the New York Times, in which he accused the Bush administration of exaggerating the Iraqi threat.

“Call it ‘the Novak exception.’ By that we mean the rule that comes into play when a conservative journalist is involved. No critic could sum this up better than Geneva Overholser did in her New York Times op-ed earlier this month calling for Mr. Novak to betray his sources,” the newspaper said.

“‘Never burn a source,’ writes Ms. Overholser. ‘It’s a cardinal rule of journalism: Do not disclose the identity of someone who gives you information in confidence. As a staunch believer in this rule for decades, I have surprised myself lately by concluding that journalists’ proud absolutism on this issue — particularly in a case involving the syndicated columnist Robert Novak — is neither as wise nor as ethical as it has seemed.’

“Now, some of us aren’t as surprised by Ms. Overholser as she professes herself to be. A former ‘ombudsman’ at The Washington Post, she is the same media ethicist who recently resigned from the board of the National Press Foundation because it had bestowed an award on Fox News anchor Brit Hume.

“But most of the rest of the media establishment has been either silent or has joined Ms. Overholser’s new enthusiasm for Big Brother.”

‘Citizen pundits’

“The 2004 Democratic primary campaign has produced one of the more depressing political phenomena in memory: the rise of the citizen pundit,” Time magazine’s Joe Klein writes.

“With Howard Dean gone from the race, the last traces of passion — and, I fear, conviction — have been leached from the electorate. Instead of voters, we have handicappers. Ask a civilian why she likes Kerry or Edwards, and more often than not, you get dime-store Capital Gang: ‘Kerry can match up with Bush on national security,’ or ‘Edwards can win in the South.’

“This is a form of pragmatism, I suppose. Democrats are desperate to beat George W. Bush. But it is also fresh evidence of television’s ability to lobotomize democracy. With serious issues of war and prosperity at stake, horse-race punditry seems particularly vacant right now — and particularly useless in a year when we professional blabbers have demonstrated yet again the essential idiocy of political prognostication.”

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide