Monday, September 13, 2004

Facts are stubborn things

Some undisputed facts about John Kerry's military service, as established by Kerry's 1971 testimony, official records, his pet historian Douglas Brinkley's biography, other published references, and specific SwiftVets' charges that Kerry's campaign has addressed but refused to deny (specific thanks hereby tendered to Bruce Kesler for his guest piece in the Augusta Free Press last week, which supplies some of this data):

(1) while at Yale, Kerry opposed the Vietnam War;

(2) after he graduated, Kerry applied for a draft exemption;

(3) the exemption was denied;

(4) Kerry faced two stark alternatives, both almost certainly leading to service in Vietnam: either (a) to be drafted into the Army as a private; or (b) to enlist in the service branch of his choice as a commissioned officer;

(5) Kerry elected to enlist in the Navy--widely regarded be the cleanest and safest service at the time--as a commissioned officer;

(6) Kerry applied to serve in the Swift Boats, which were primarily engaged in safe rear-area patrol duty at the time;

(7) after being mustered into Swift Boat service, Kerry learned that Adm. Elmo Zumwalt intended to redeploy the Swift Boats into forward areas and more dangerous duty;

(8) Kerry complained about this;

(9) Kerry applied for a Purple Heart the first time despite knowing at that time that he was not eligible for the award because his slight "wound" was not caused by enemy fire (it was self-inflicted) as required;

(10) Kerry's application for that Purple Heart was denied;

(11) three months later, after all the senior officers aware of the circumstances surrounding that first "wound" had rotated out of the command, Kerry reapplied for that Purple Heart and, based on his own account of the incident, was awarded that Purple Heart, his third;

(12) Kerry knew at that time that the fine print of service regulations allowed a serviceman awarded three Purple Hearts to apply to leave Vietnam; and

(13) although Kerry had served only four months of his twelve-month Vietnam tour of duty, he cited that third Purple Heart to invoke the regulation which allowed him to return to the United States early.

For the purpose of this analysis, let us ignore Kerry's detected lies (ie, "Cambodia"), Kerry's admission that he is a war criminal, and his wholesale libel on the honor of all those who served in Vietnam. Furthermore, let us interpret all of the disputed facts (most of a "he said-he said" quality) in a light most favorable to Kerry. Let us rely solely on the uncontroverted and undisputed facts detailed above.

One question: did John Kerry serve honorably? Yes or no?