08/24/04 — Kerry’s record: He should welcome close examination

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Kerry’s record: He should welcome close examination

A flap has developed over the authenticity of some of John Kerry’s Vietnam war heroics and Purple Hearts. Some other swift boat veterans, including one highly decorated admiral, have been critical of the circumstances involved in the decorations.

One report was that Kerry insisted on getting a Purple Heart for a little more than a scratch that occurred in the absence of enemy fire. Another is that he personally wrote the recommendation for his Bronze Star.

On the other hand, Senator Kerry has paraded before the public members of his crew who were lavish in their praise of his service.

One thing is indisputable. John Kerry did serve in Vietnam and subjected himself to harm’s way during a four-month tour. Under the rules, a person can ask to be sent home upon receiving three Purple Hearts. Which John Kerry did.

President George W. Bush, who is in no position to do so, has not attacked or questioned Mr. Kerry’s record. But the Kerry camp now is going ballistic over what it insists are attacks — in paid advertising — by Bush “surrogates.” Bush spokesmen say both sides should denounced unauthorized attacks.

But let’s back up a bit.

President Bush was, and is, subjected to vitriolic criticism and accusations as being an absentee member of his Air National Guard unit. In response, Mr. Bush offered all his military service records which we can be assured that the national media and Mr. Kerry’s camp not only microscopically scrutinized but scoured the countryside in search of anyone who would say they failed to see Lt. Bush where he was supposed to have been.

John Kerry has made his a service in Vietnam the centerpiece of his campaign for president of the United States. This makes that service fair game for close examination. If that service is as admirable as has been presented by his campaign, John Kerry should welcome full and unimpeded investigation and public disclosure of all the circumstances.

And the media should give Kerry’s military service the same fervent scrutiny that was given that of George W. Bush.

Published in Editorials on August 24, 2004 11:59 AM