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In Defense of John Kerry

John Kerry obviously lied when he said he spent Christmas 1969 in Cambodia. There were too many contemporaneous reports that have contradicted his story. But having said that, he is getting pummeled for one line unfairly. He said:

"...being shot at by our South Vietnamese allies who were drunk and celebrating Christmas."

Many bloggers and other pundits have mocked him because Buddhists don't celebrate Christmas. That's true. However, Vietnam is only about 70% Buddhist and is about 25% Catholic.

Back in the 1860's while we were fighting the civil war, the French were busy colonizing Vietnam. The French catholics came in and established a very strong school system much like they did in the southern United States. Many of those schools are still in place today. In 1954 when Vietnam divided, many of the catholics were anti-communist and moved to the south to fight the war.

Vietnamese Catholics often celebrate Christmas with fireworks. It seems logical that in a war zone they'd use what they had on hand.

If I were a liberal blogger I'd cite this as proof that Kerry told the truth and Rove is the devil. It proves nothing.

But by the same token, Kerry saying South Vietnamese were celebrating Christmas does not, in and of itself, make the story any less credible.


Comments (9)

But if he lied about being ... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

But if he lied about being in Cambodia at Christmas, then how could the South Vietnamese have been shooting at him while 'celebrating Christmas'.
I think the latest KerryKambodiaKristmas story, version 4.0, has him over there in late January.
Huh. Who knew the Vietnamese Catholics were Greek Orthodox?

I'm not saying any part of ... (Below threshold)
Paul:

I'm not saying any part of it is true. I'm saying we can't prove it is false over the Christmas part. -- Luckily there is more than enough other evidence.

From what I've been able to... (Below threshold)
David Gillies:

From what I've been able to ascertain, VietNam was a lot less Catholic then compared to now. Some quite extensive googling came up with a figure for the late Sixties/early Seventies of a lot less than 25%.

Besides, is Kerry telling us that discipline was so bad amongst South Vietnamese forces that randomly firing off weaponry was tolerated? It's hard to exaggerate how much trouble you'd be in if you tried that nonsense in the US or British Army (hint: you're looking at years, not months of military prison).

Ah, yes, the old let's cele... (Below threshold)

Ah, yes, the old let's celebrate Christmas with gun-fire ploy! I wonder if Jesus would have prefered an AK-47 or a Mac10?

It is an interesting point that some Vietnamese were Catholic, but since Kerry could not have been in Cambodia it is not relevant to his service.

Just surfed in and found th... (Below threshold)
suzi:

Just surfed in and found this really interesting place here. A lot of good stuff for everybody.
Go on like this and i will surely visit your site again sometime.

Actually, it was 1968, and ... (Below threshold)
Stewart:

Actually, it was 1968, and I can't find any actual statement of the nature "I was in Cambodia on Christmas day, 1968". The quote from the Senate floor in 1996 does not fix an exact time to any of the various events he mentioned, such as being in Cambodia, being shot at, hearing denials that U.S. troops were in Cambodia. I think Kerry is using "Christmas" to refer to the holiday season.

It seems to me that Kerry's detractors are putting words in his mouth.

<a href="http://www.slate.c... (Below threshold)
Stewart:

http://www.slate.com/Default.aspx?id=2105529

An article that shows how Kerry's detractors shamelessly use Kerry's own book against him.

If you think that catching ... (Below threshold)
Paul:

If you think that catching John Kerry in lies is "Kerry's detractors shamelessly use Kerry's own book against him" then you really just don't get it.

The word "lie" should not b... (Below threshold)
Stewart:

The word "lie" should not be used unless it can be shown that someone is making a statement that they must know to be untrue.

Kerry's account is edited to make it look inconsistent, when in fact it is a totally coherent account. That's not the only instance SBVT changing someone's words:

SBVT solicited Patrick Runyon, a fellow swift boat vet who was there when Kerry earned his first Purple Heart, for his account. When SBVT found that Runyon corroberated Kerry's account, they deleted what they didn't like (i.e. that they were under fire), substituted what they wanted to here (that they were not under fire), and asked Patrick Runyon to put his name to what can truly be called a lie: SBVT's altering the account to contradict the original.

This act of dishonesty is devastating to the credibility of SBVT.




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