I’m not one to carry much water for John Kerry, but is there anything more disineguous than the claim that “he’d have been fine” had he only apologized quickly for his remarks yesterday? (See an equally implausible variation on this argument here.) I’m trying to imagine a scenario in which less than a week prior to national elections, with all the tea leaves and sheep intestines indicating significant Democratic gains in Congress, John Hinderaker and Austin Bay would have allowed John Kerry — the most treasoningest, shrapnel-in-the-ass Purple Heart swiftboat fraud, Jane Fonda-loving traitor ever to soil the Senate floor — to walk away unscathed after suggesting that anyone involved with the war on Iraq (the troops, the President, the Hamburglar, whoever) was operating under diminished mental power.
And what are we to make of those who continue to repeat nonsense like this?
[Kerry’s] past exploits and efforts to drag the reputation of American soldiers through the mud are absolutely relevant and mean he doesn’t get to pretend that nobody could ever think he’d say something denigrating about the military. If you’ve never been known to raise your hand in anger towards a woman, you can crack a joke about beating your wife and get away with it (even if you shouldn’t). But if you’ve got a history of beating your wife, you don’t get to make jokes about beating your wife without bringing the full weight of society’s suspicion and opprobrium down on you.
Set aside, if you can, the absolutely fucking stupid analogy propping up that paragraph. As to the substance of the complaint, I’ll merely point to a couple of key passages in Kerry’s 1971 Congressional testimony, which is the source of the zoo noises we usually hear from the right on this topic:
But the problem of veterans goes beyond this personal problem, because you think about a poster in this country with a picture of Uncle Sam and the picture says “I want you.” And a young man comes out of high school and says, “That is fine. I am going to serve my country.” And he goes to Vietnam and he shoots and he kills and he does his job or maybe he doesn’t kill, maybe he just goes and he comes back, and when he gets back to this country he finds that he isn’t really wanted, because the largest unemployment figure in the country — it varies depending on who you get it from, the VA Administration 15 percent, various other sources 22 percent. But the largest corps of unemployed in this country are veterans of this war, and of those veterans 33 percent of the unemployed are black. That means 1 out of every 10 of the Nation’s unemployed is a veteran of Vietnam.
The hospitals across the country won’t, or can’t meet their demands. It is not a question of not trying. They don’t have the appropriations. A man recently died after he had a tracheotomy in California, not because of the operation but because there weren’t enough personnel to clean the mucous out of his tube and he suffocated to death.
Another young man just died in a New York VA hospital the other day. A friend of mine was lying in a bed two beds away and tried to help him, but he couldn’t. He rang a bell and there was nobody there to service that man and so he died of convulsions.
I understand 57 percent of all those entering the VA hospitals talk about suicide. Some 27 percent have tried, and they try because they come back to this country and they have to face what they did in Vietnam, and then they come back and find the indifference of a country that doesn’t really care, that doesn’t really care. . . .
[W]e are here to ask vehemently, where are the leaders of our country? Where is the leadership? We are here to ask where are McNamara, Rostow, Bundy, Gilpatric, and so many others. Where are they now that we, the men whom they sent off to war, have returned? These are commanders who have deserted their troops, and there is no more serious crime in the law of war. The Army says they never leave their wounded.
The Marines say they never leave even their dead. These men have left all the casualties and retreated behind a pious shield of public rectitude. They have left the real stuff of their reputations bleaching behind them in the sun in this country….