There He Goes Again

I didn’t see Kerry this morning on ABC’s Good morning America. The posts I have read discussing Kerry’s appearance reveal that he did not perform well. Trogers at Broken Masterpieces did see it and posts that Kerry was a disaster. Drudge has posted this transcript of Kerry’s interview.

Kerry has managed to make a major issue out of an event which occurred over thirty years ago.

On April 23, 1971, Kerry led the group Vietnam Veterans Against the War in a protest against the Vietnam war. Many veterans threw their medals over the fence in front of the U.S. Capitol.

According to the New York Times in a 1971 television interview Kerry claimed that he threw away as many as nine of his Vietnam medals:

When the interviewer asked, "How many did you give back, John?" he answered, "I gave back, I can't remember, six, seven, eight, nine."

When the interviewer pointed out that Mr. Kerry had won the Bronze and Silver Stars and three Purple Hearts, Mr. Kerry added, "Well, and above that, I gave back my others."

Running for the U.S. Senate in 1984 Kerry revealed he still had his medals. According to a Boston Globe report on April 15, 1984, union officials had expressed uneasiness with Kerry's candidacy because he had thrown his medals away. Kerry acknowledged the medals he threw away were, in fact, another soldier's medals. He reportedly invited a union official home to personally inspect his Silver Star, Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts, awarded for his combat duty as a Navy lieutenant

ABCNEWS reports that in the 1971 television interview, Kerry made no mention of the ribbons or the medals belonging to another veteran. Kerry has been nuancing this story ever since:

And in 1988, Kerry again clarified his statement by saying he threw out ribbons he had been awarded for three combat wounds, but not his medals. "I was proud of my personal service and remain so," he told the National Journal.

Eight years later in 1996, Kerry said while he did throw out his ribbons, he didn't throw out his own medals because he "didn't have time to go home [to New York] and get them," he told The Boston Globe.

Throughout his presidential campaign, Kerry has denied that he threw away any of his medals during an anti-war protest in April 1971.

Last Friday, responding to the question of whether he threw away his medals in protest, Kerry told the Los Angeles Times:

"I never ever implied that I did it," Kerry says wearily, adding: "You know what? Medals and ribbons, there's almost no difference in distinction, fundamentally. They're symbols of the same thing. They are what they are."

Yesterday on CNN's "Late Edition" Karen Hughes, the former White House communications director, took exception to Kerry's actions during the 1971 protest during which veterans threw away their medals:

He only pretended to throw his. Now, I can understand if, out of conscience, you take a principled stand, and you would decide that you were so opposed to this that you would actually throw your medals. But to pretend to do so -- I think that's very revealing.

During his appearance on "Good Morning America" Kerry, unable or unwilling to give a straight answer to Charlie Gibson, Kerry attacked President Bush by trying to resurrect the discredited AWOL charges.

The unfounded attack on President Bush's National Guard Service was "Much Ado About Nothing" back in February and it is even more so now. President bush's disclosure of his entire service record brought an end to that kerfuffle.

The vast majority of Americans would not be offended by Kerry's actions thirty odd years ago. It just wouldn't matter. It only continues to be a nagging issue for Kerry because he keeps changing his story in his obvious efforts to be on all sides of this issue. Kerry should just admit that he threw medals away in 1971 when he was an angry young man and this issue would finally disappear. His constant nuancing reinforces his image as a waffler and diminishes his credibility.

Its a pity Kerry can't address this issue in a straight forward manner as President Bush did with the irresponsible attacks on his National Guard service. If Kerry would only do that the campaign could focus upon the much more important issues that we should be discussing such as which candidate can better defend the country.

Posted by Dan Spencer at April 26, 2004 11:09 PM