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A group of Vietnam vets who served with John Kerry charges that he is unfit to be president and commander in chief
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Almost all 18 pilloried Mr. Kerry for his broad-brush smear of GIs who served in Vietnam while he was active in the antiwar movement. "In 1971, '72," charged retired Capt. George Elliott, "he claimed that the 500,000 men and women in Vietnam were all villains--there were no heroes. In 2004, one hero from the Vietnam War has appeared, running for president and commander in chief." Swiftie William Shumandine: "I was in An Thoi from June of '68 to June of '69, covering the whole period John Kerry was there. I operated in every river, in every canal, and every off-shore patrol area in the 4th Corps area. I never saw, even heard of all of these so-called atrocities." Sailor after sailor said the same.
Admittedly, there is another side to Mr. Kerry's military service. Some of his old crew, not to mention a soldier he plucked from the water while under fire, are his ardent boosters. One or two Swift Board Veterans for Truth just a few years ago were inexplicably praising Mr. Kerry's valor. Also, one of those who organized the press conference is a moneyed Texas woman and Bush partisan.
Yet it's hard to write off the group as GOP stooges. Too many are distinguished career officers and successful, settled civilians--not the losers, lickspittles, and amoral ideologues who form the standard pool of dirty tricksters on both sides of the aisle. Because liars say bad things does not mean that all bad things are lies.
Speaking of dirty tricks, the founder of that feast, Richard Nixon, in 1972 ran against another Democratic war hero, George McGovern, who had flown 35 combat missions over Nazi Germany. No one recalls a single sleazy GOP attack on Mr. McGovern's military prowess. Maybe politics has gotten worse since then. Or maybe, in Mr. Kerry's case, there really is something vulnerable to attack.