- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 29, 2006

The comic career of Sen. Jean-Francois Kerry is picking up steam, or gas, as the case may be. This inveterate windbag is, according to the New York Times, reopening the Swift Boat controversy of 2004 that did such damage to his presidential prospects when hundreds of the Vietnam War veterans who served with him deflated his reckless boasts of military gloire. He has undertaken this quixotic mission, claiming that he can repristinate his military record despite the Swifties’ evidence against it. Then the delusory senator from Massachusetts seems to think he will be a shoo-in for the presidency in 2008.

Well, I for one shall delight in reviewing the Swifties’ corpus delicti once again. There are his Purple Hearts that his officers deny authorizing. There are the missing medical records needed to substantiate his decorations. There are the questions the Swifties raised about his honorable discharge, a mysterious discharge not issued until several years after he was out of the Navy and then only issued by President Jimmy Carter in the midst of his amnesty program for draft dodgers. And there is all the controversy about young Mr. Kerry’s dealings with the North Vietnamese in Paris while the war was going on and he was still in the service. Doubtless there are more indelicacies to be examined. Frankly I doubt the American electorate will gain any higher opinion of a presidential candidate who in 1971 appeared before Congress to claim that American soldiers “raped, cut off ears, cut off heads” and otherwise mistreated the Vietnamese.

Mr. Kerry’s statement is long and lurid, and the Swifties gladly reproduced a tape of it during the 2004 election. Now these veterans are being harassed by the senator’s supporters with crank calls in the night and venomous postings on the liberal Web site HuffingtonPost.com. On that celebrity-ridden site the names and personal information of more than a dozen Swift Boat veterans were posted by such “trusted” Huffington Post celebrities as “SatanLivesinUSA.” Could this be Barbra Streisand’s username? At any rate, this eminence wrote on June 24: “SwiftBoatVets who need some Black Ops done on them. I have some very good ideas I gleaned from ‘CIA Book of Dirty Tricks.’ Don’t get mad, get even.” Minutes later another “trusted” celebrity poster repeatedly pasted these threatening words on the page and on another Huffington Post post.

The American Spectator’s indefatigable reporter, Dave Holman, found all this and reports that “Aside from one or two complaints, fellow commenters did not object to the posting of the information or the threats.” Within hours the veterans were receiving threatening calls. In the early hours of June 25 one Swiftie, Van Odell, got three in four minutes, the last from a man who inquired, “I want to know why you lied about John Kerry… . Traitors must die. We will get you.” Mr. Holman notes that the Swifties have reported these calls to law enforcement but that they had no luck in getting Huffington Post to address the harassment. The comments remained posted until Mr. Holman reached Katharine Zaleski, the site’s news editor, on Tuesday afternoon at her unlisted telephone number. As I say, Mr. Holman is indefatigable.

This sort of harassment is not new to the veterans and it will probably continue. At least one other site still posts their telephone numbers. Yet, as one Swiftie told me, “These men will not be intimidated. The SwiftVets are 300 strong. They include Kerry’s entire chain of command while in Vietnam, the vast majority of officers who served with him, the attending physician to his alleged wounds, and his longest-serving crew member. They have raised legitimate questions.” This Swiftie concludes that the questions can be answered if Mr. Kerry allows “a release of his military record by the execution of the Form 180, permitting the media to look closely at the truth behind Kerry’s fiction.”

The fact that John Kerry has not allowed these records to be opened to the general media is suspicious, no? The fact that he continues to make his military record an issue is still more evidence that a delusional man can be a funny man.

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor in chief of the American Spectator, a contributing editor to the New York Sun and an adjunct scholar at the Hudson Institute. His latest book is “Madame Hillary: The Dark Road to the White House.”

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