An Englishman's Castle has an amusing link to a Times article (pay access for us suckers outside Merrie Englande), which seems somewhat peeved at the way Kerry shot himself in the foot with his endless playing up of his Vietnam service. This article manages to get a number of things wrong so doing as I was told I wrote an email to the times pointing out their errors:
you printed an article (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/newspaper/0,,170-1248728_2,00.html) about the US election campaign and the attacks on Senator Kerry's Vietnam service which seem to be misleading if not untrue. Firstly the article states that "the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth had already succeeded in raising awkward questions about his[Kerry's] reputation, even though most of their claims have since been disproved". This would seme to depend on your definition of MOST. The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth(SBVT) made essentially 7 claims: 1) that Kerry was not in Cambodia during Christmas 1968 2) that Kerry did not ever transport covert forces into Cambodia 3) that his first purple heart was gained under questionable circumstances 4) that his silver star (with "combat V") had serious inconsistencies as did his total list of decorations 5) that his third purple heart and bronze star awards were also undeserved 6) Kerry's stealing of Tedd Peck's engagement on 29 January 1969, which he included in his website timeline 7) Kerry's and David Alston's stories about Alston serving with Kerry on the 29 January and 28 February engagements
Of these claims 1) is definitively correct and admitted so by Kerry 2) is not proven beyond reasonable doubt, however the evidence seems clear that if then Lt Kerry did transport covert forces to Cambodia in late 1968/early 1969 then his was the only Swift boat that ever did so. Moreover no one has put a date on when such a mission might have occured and various crewmembers have provided blanket denials that the event occured while they served with Kerry. 3) is murky. Written evidence indicates that the wound was a) minor and b) likely shrapnel from his own weapon, howeverit is not clear whether there was sufficient enemy fire to justify Kerry's wounding as "in the heat of battle" 4) is definitively correct in parts as it is clear that V's are not awarded ever with Silver stars and that the thrid citation some 20 years later was irregular. Moreover he has claimed 4 campaign decorations when he was eligable for 2. 5) may be claimed to have been "not proven" in that there is considerable confusion about precisely what occured 6) Was proven to be correct, Kerry did take credit for Peck's action and has removed it 7) Was proven correct, Alson's claim to have been serving with Kerry for a long period was determined to be impossible -- and Alston no longer makes appearances with Kerry in telling those stories By my mathematics since four of the seven are correct, two are not proven and one is probably correct that means NONE have been disproved not MOST. The only way to get MOST is to say that "MOST of the SBVT claims have not been completely proved" and as any competant lawyer or logician will tell you NOT BEEN PROVED is not the same as DISPROVED
Secondly your article states that the SBVT have links to Karl Rove, this implies that the SBVT are in some way controlled and/or created by the Bush campaign. Ths implication is one which, if true, would mean that the Bush campaign acted illegally. One would have anticipated that if any actual evidence other than hearsay existed the Kerry campaign would have file numerous legal challenges. They haven't done so, which, I believe, implies that the evidence for this is considerably weaker than the unproven evidence presented by SBVT about Sen Kerry.
Finally, as your article states, it was Kerry's own campaign which raised his Vietnam service despite the fact that the Senator's Vietnam service and subsequent anti-war activities have been questioned intermittently for most of the past 3 decades; thus it seems surprising that the Senator and his campaign staff were caught so off balance when the SBVT began their campaign. This seems to indicate a lack of strategic thinking by the Senator which does indeed make his fitness for the Presidency questionable, whether or not the individual claims are correct.
The Captain's Quarter's blog - from whom I nicked a bit of evidence for that letter - has an amusing counterpoint article which rips into a nice piece of media double talk that deserves a link on the O that Liberal Media site for its breathtaking arrogance and duplicity. Unlike the Times which does a more in Sorrow than in Anger "what was he thinking" thingy this one goes for the "HOW DARE THEY" approach and calls the SBVT egregious liars. Which is a bit of a pity because as as noted above they aren't in fact liars, not even egregious ones.
Yet in meetings with Kerry, McKean and other advisers say, they told the Democrat that he had an extraordinary story of heroism to tell Americans. Campaign advisers say they felt sure of two things: Past Vietnam critics like John O'Neill, now a leader of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, would probably resurface, but Kerry and his allies could neutralize the criticism as they had done before.
The attacks on Kerry by the swift boat group, however, have stunned many in the camp and left Kerry frustrated that the media have not dismissed the charges as unsubstantiated. "What has surprised me is the voracity with which they have tried to attack his heroism," McKean said. "I have never seen people lie so egregiously and get away with it. This is as close to McCarthyism as you can get in a campaign. The print press has worked hard to discredit it, but television just replays the charges over and over.
Despite masses of soft money bashng Bush and the good will of the majority of the Mainstream Media, the SBVT have managed to hull Kerry's presidential ambitions. And in passing demonstrated precisely what I concluded in my letter to the Times, Kerry has the strategic sense of a lemming. "We know we have a weakness, we skated over it before so lets make it the centrepiece of our campaign"