Kerry and Murtha: Brothers Under the Skin
Late in the recent election, John Kerry made what he later called a “botched joke.” His exact words strongly indicated that American servicemen and servicewomen had “ended up’ in Iraq because they didn’t study hard enough and hadn’t learned from history.
Later, he said – implausibly in the minds of many – that he was referring to George W. Bush, a graduate of Yale and Harvard. However, more people might believe the “joke” and “Bush” explanations if Kerry’s words didn’t reflect attitudes he’s expressed over nearly 40 years.
In the late 1960s, Kerry – fresh from his abbreviated service on a swift boat -- testified before Congress that American soldiers in Viet Nam were “raping” and “murdering” civilians. He offered no evidence.
Those comments put him in Hanoi’s version of the “Hall of Fame,” not far from where John McCain and other Americans were being tortured. Kerry’s statements reflected what would be a continuing distaste for American troops’ morality and character.
In Viet Nam, Lt. Kerry did serve and got three “wounds,” one of which may have been significant, with the other two apparently being of the band-aid variety. We’ll never know precisely what the wounds were, because Kerry won’t release his full medical records (in military terms, his “180”).
We do know that Kerry left Viet Nam with a real aversion to Americans engaged in warfare. That position advanced his political career in dovish Massachusetts.
Kerry’s early hostility to American soldiers resurfaced in 1972. He said the following about the proposed volunteer military.
“I am convinced a volunteer army would be an army of the poor and the black and the brown . . . . I also fear having a professional army that views the perpetuation of war crimes as simply ‘doing its job.’”
Fast-forward 30 some years and we have Kerry criticizing soldiers for “terrorizing” the women and children of Iraq. (Presumably, the Al Qaeda fanatics and the bloodthirsty insurgents who are committing mass murder against tens of thousands of men, women, and children aren’t terrorizing the people.)
It’s instructive to compare Kerry’s comments in 1972 to Congressman John Murtha’s in 2006, when he accused Marines operating in Haditha, Iraq of engaging in the “cold-blooded killing” of Iraqi civilians.
The soldiers Murtha defamed had not been charged, indicted, or convicted of such killings. His statements about Haditha were made without regard to the safety of morale of the troops, and they served mainly to advance his standing with the Democratic Party's far-left wing.
As a high-ranking member of the legislative branch – now even higher ranking – Murtha clearly endangered the Haditha Marines' ability to get a fair trial. Like Kerry’s remarks about US soldiers, Murtha’s reflected cynicism and self-advancement rather than any clear knowledge.
Why are both John Kerry and John Murtha, Viet Nam veterans, hostile to American soldiers and veterans – and why may they become even more so in the future?
Kerry knows that opposition by soldiers, veterans, and military families in 2004 cost him the presidency. His intemperate comments about American troops in Iraq have removed any hope that he might yet become President.
Murtha knows soldiers and veterans strongly supported his pro-military congressional opponent, Diana Lynn Irey. But he also knows that his anti-military stance has elevated his standing in the Democratic Party.
In 2004 and 2006, George Bush and Diana Irey held Kerry and Murtha to account for their comments. However, where was the media in all this?
After Kerry’s statement, some media people called Kerry’s supposed joke at best “a three-day story.”
Yet in Virginia, George Allen’s silly – and jovially meant – identification of a political operative as “macaca” (a monkey) became a burning three-month issue. Kerry gets three days, and Allen gets three months, which doesn’t seem very fair-and-balanced does it?
Kerry’s recent statements reflect much more than a “botched joke.” As for Murtha, his accusations of murder reflect much more than a congressman notoriously careless with words.
People in Kerry’s Massachusetts and in Murtha’s district (Pennsylvania’s 12th) strongly want America to win the war against terrorism. They need to ask themselves if Kerry and Murtha are the kind of elected officials they need in that effort.
(The author of this piece, Stephen R. Maloney, lives in Ambridge, PA, near Pittsburgh. He has written for many national publications, including National Review and Fortune. He’s been active in politics since Newt Gingrich’s first campaign in 1974 and recently served as a volunteer in Diana Lynn Irey’s campaign for Congress. You may reprint this article without permission, as long as you forward a copy to Maloney at TalkTop65@aol.com and note Maloney’s blog at www. Camp2008com.blogspot.com.)