Reading the Newsweek Editor’s (July 16, 2010) essay on a potential “Fulbright moment” for Senator Kerry gave me pause. Although the thrust of the article was a call for a Senate Foreign Relations Committee public review of our policy in Afghanistan, his sub-plot was goading the Senator into chairing it—”If anyone can do this, John Kerry can”—and expressing hope that he would. Why in the heck would Meacham want to thrust Kerry back into the spotlight as one of America’s least popular Vietnam Vets?

Senator Fulbright, if you remember, was the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971 when returning Viet Nam hero (Silver Star and three Purple Hearts) Kerry revealed in testimony that after finishing almost a third of his Viet Nam tour in-country and meeting with 150 or so disgruntled and angry Viet Nam vets in Detroit, he had realized that our troops were Genghis Khan-like monsters, that we had no chance of winning the war, and that he had personally met with the enemy leaders and felt certain they would behave if we just pulled up stakes and left our allies to fend for themselves.

At which point the esteemed Senator from Arkansas fixed ex-Navy officer Kerry with steely eyes and asked, “Son, are you drunk?”

Okay, I made that up. The senators present, Fulbright, Javits, Symington, Aiken and Pell, actually blathered all over themselves with syrupy praise and encouragement for the half military clad, Beatle-mopped Kerry.

Senator Symington: You have a Silver Star, have you not?

Kerry: Yes, I do.

Symington: And a Purple Heart?

Kerry: Yes, I do.

Symington: How many clusters?

Kerry: Two clusters.

Kerry: So you have been wounded three times?

Kerry: Yes, Sir.

Symington: Did any of the wounds actually hurt?

Okay, I made up that last line too. The point being that the Senators were fawning over a man who had just accused the U.S. military of war crimes, dereliction of duty, and the U.S. administration of just about everything but pedophilia. Without a single question as to sources, documentation, or a shred of evidence other than his four months in a boat and what he had heard in Detroit at a meeting of vets who almost all claimed that they themselves had committed heinous war crimes. Credible witnesses? (Later the truth about the Detroit vets would be revealed). It may be that this was the historical moment in U.S. history when ‘statesmen’ turned over the moral future of the country to hot-headed gasbags with the nerve to self-promote at any cost. [An aside: Is there anyone who thinks John Kerry is, or ever was, a “women and children first” kind of guy?]

So I can only assume that the aforementioned Meacham relishes the sight of Kerry once more thrusting himself into the limelight as an expert on running out on our battles and subjecting himself to the whole Viet Nam mini-war crimes trial in the Senate chambers. I can’t imagine it will be pretty. I wonder if Senator Kerry will show up in his leather flight jacket. My opinion? We don’t need this.

 

Whether you agreed with Fulbright or not (I didn’t, for the most part) he was an intellectual heavyweight. You can finish that thought for yourselves.

Phil Jennings is the author of the Politically Incorrect Guide to the Vietnam War available here.

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