Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
August 22, 2004
POLITICS: Matthews v. Thurlow
I gotta say, on reading this transcript, Larry Thurlow - one of the Swift Boat vets - doesn't sound very credible to me, although it's hard to tell with Chris Matthews browbeating the guy.
UPDATE: The bottom line: even leaving aside the issue of the relevance of microanalysis of Kerry's war record to the campaign - I continue to think that Kerry's actual record is of little relevance, although if he's been lying about his record all these years that is something, whereas I also continue to think that Kerry's early-70s anti-war activities when he was preparing a run for Congress are much more relevant - it seems over-the-top for the Swift Boaters to be attacking every one of Kerry's medals. The attack on Kerry's Bronze Star (the rescue of Jim Rassman), of which Thurlow is a part, is especially central to this controversy; while the attack on Kerry's Silver Star seems mostly to involve a difference of opinion, there's a direct factual contradiction between Kerry and the other swift boat captains over (1) how many boats were present when Kerry pulled Rassman out of the water and (2) whether there was enemy fire at the time. Rassman seems like a sincere and truthful witness in support of Kerry on this point, but his vantage point may not have been that great - by his own testimony, he was under water for most of the incident and (correct me if I'm misreading this) may not have been able to tell the difference between enemy fire and fire from the swift boats at the shore - and John O'Neill has cited physical evidence supporting the Swift Vets' version of the event.
At the end of the day, it may be that some of the Swift Boaters are not being honest or don't remember things real well, although (1) that doesn't necessarily call into question the whole enterprise, since we've seen examples already of Kerry, to put it charitably, having inaccurate recollections of those events, and (2) I don't for a second think these guys have been bought off or that they are all partisan Republicans; it's much more likely that their primary motivation is bitterness at Kerry's anti-war speeches.