My Two Cents: Vietnam becoming a quagmire for Kerry

Some time ago, presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry claimed he was eager to challenge President Bush on matters of national security, saying, “Bring…it…on!” Kerry, as all the world knows by now, is a Vietnam veteran, and he was counting on that to solidify his credentials when it comes to national security.

However, now that a group – Swift Boat Veterans for Truth – is challenging Kerry’s military record and anti-war stance after returning from Vietnam, Kerry is crying foul. Unfortunately for the senator from Massachusetts, he has only himself to blame.

From my perspective, it’s not Kerry’s service in Vietnam per se that is the issue, but rather his making it the central theme of his campaign, his questionable activity after he came back to the United States and his misguided response to the ads being put out by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. (Indeed, I think Kerry deserves credit for joining the Navy, volunteering to go to Vietnam and putting himself in harm’s way for his country.)

Kerry’s decision to make his four months as a swift boat commander in Vietnam the main focus of his campaign has, not surprisingly, opened up his service to scrutiny. So for Kerry – whose constant self-aggrandizing references to his time in Vietnam became tiresome long ago – to complain about criticisms of his service seems to be naive. Personally, I think Kerry would have been better served by being more modest regarding his status as a Vietnam veteran and building his campaign around his 20-year Senate career and stances on current issues.

It’s Kerry’s antiwar statements in the early 1970s that have many Vietnam veterans upset to this day. Kerry did not return from Vietnam and simply say that he was against the war. In testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971, Kerry said U.S. soldiers in Vietnam regularly, and as a matter of official policy, committed war crimes, which, of course, is not true. Is it any wonder then that many people do not wish to see this man become commander in chief?

Finally, Kerry has come across as a guy who can’t take the heat, with his campaign filing complaints with the Federal Election Commission in an attempt to stop Swift Boat Veterans for Truth from airing their attack ads. I believe Kerry would be better off addressing the group’s charges, instead of attacking the messenger.

“My Two Cents” is a weekly column where the author – who is not ashamed to admit he hopes Kerry loses – gets in his two cents worth, in spite of the old saying that you only get a penny for your thoughts.