Sunday, September 05, 2004
John Kerry's Heroism
"Are journalists capable of logical analysis? The Swift Vet story is showing us a lot more about the mainstream media besides bias. They don’t seem to understand what the basic issue is. And they are clearly confused about who has the burden of proof.
Many media outlets have claimed that the Swift Vets’ have been discredited (see e.g. Jeffrey H. Smith in today’s Washington Post, “Did Bush Miss Vietnam’s Lessons?”). You don’t have to get down to debating the gritty details to see how far they have missed the boat. One has to wonder if they even have the capacity to see the big picture.
The dispute is really simple. Was John Kerry a war hero? He says that he was and that his heroism makes him the most qualified candidate for president. He stakes his claim for heroism on his receipt of five medals -- a silver star, a bronze star and 3 purple hearts. Kerry and his cheerleaders like Brinkley and Kranish have told voters that he fought with extraordinary courage. They built an image of Kerry as a naval officer who demonstrated bravery far beyond the typical soldier or sailor and who suffered serious wounds in the process. They had successfully communicated this image to a number of swing voters before the Swift Vets appeared on the scene.
The Swift Vets responded with two basic claims. First, that Kerry was not really a war hero. Second, that Kerry betrayed his fellow veterans when he came home. The facts regarding the betrayal claim are not much in dispute, although perhaps still not known by most voters. It will be left to the voters as to whether those actions were appropriate. The current argument focuses on the claim of war heroism.
Have the Swift Vets proven their claim that Kerry is not a war hero? Have they established that John Kerry did not fight with extraordinary bravery? Absolutely. They have blown Kerry’s carefully crafted image clear out of the water. And they have done it with facts. The “mainstream” journalists have completely missed this. They keep focusing on whether or not the facts show Kerry’s actions to have met the lowest possible technical threshold necessary for a medal to be awarded. They also mistakenly put the burden of proof on the Swift Vets......................"