Tuesday, August 10, 2004

AN ERRAND BOY SENT BY GROCERY CLERKS TO COLLECT A BILL. As to the recent Vietnam-related doings of the VRWC (Vast 'Re-elect W' Committee), I note that the medium seems to have become the message, as the blogosphere congratulates itself on holding the media's feet to the fire. You know you've reached the tertiary stage of scandal-mongering when the subject becomes "Look how much braver we are than CNN."

The Swift Boats Vets For Truth seem a minor annoyance: some of Kerry's comrades like him, some don't; at least we're thus assured he's no Raymond Shaw. The Cambodia story is a little stranger, though.

I find the John McCain's quick defense of Kerry on the Vets' ad, and his disinclination (not to mention Bush's) to leverage the Cambodia story on the stump, very interesting. It may be mere, collegial courtesy on McCain's part, as conventional wisdom has it. It may also be that McCain knows how these boys operate from previous experience -- in fact, some of his opponents are still at it -- and he wanted some of his own back.

But it may also be that both Kerry and McCain know some things about America's operations in Southeast Asia -- no so much through their combat (and McCain's POW) experience as through their work on a Congressional POW/MIA inquiry years ago -- that they're not prepared to get into.

Kerry's and McCain's MIA work was sufficiently shady to arouse the interest of Sydney Schanberg -- the sentinel of My Lai and Abu Ghraib -- who still thinks Kerry and McCain were less devoted to uncovering the truth than they should have been. Given what we do know about Vietnam, I would be shocked if Kerry and McCain didn't have secrets about the War and its aftermath. Whether these secrets are dishonorable, or merely disturbing and (in someone's view) politically or diplomatically necessary to keep, is unknown to me.

But I would say that if Kerry is less than transparent about his service, there many be more than one reason.

Time may tell much more -- there was a lot no one knew about America's Cambodian adventures until someone dug it up, so someone may yet dig up something on Kerry's Cambodian adventure, or lack thereof, too. Or it may be that this thing sinks back into the vast, unexplored backwaters of history, and the political operators will content themselves with working whatever unease its moment in the media sun has stirred up.

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