At first, Kerry claimed that he had thrown his own medals away in protest; when confronted by organized labor (upon his entry into the Massachusettes senatorial race) about this disrespect, Kerry justified his actions by claiming that he had sent someone else's medals over the White House fence. Now that the story has resurfaced, and the public is reexamining his actions on that day in 1971, Kerry is trying, desperately, to have it both ways. Witness the latest attempt to spin this telling story:
GIBSON: 1984, senator, to the present. you have said a number of times, as brian pointed out as recently as friday with the ""los angeles times,"" have you said a number of times that you did not throw away the vietnam medals themselves. but now this interview from 1971 shows up the in which you say that was the medals themselves that were thrown away.
KERRY: no, i don't.
GIBSON: can you explain?
KERRY: absolutely. that's absolutely incorrect. charlie, i stood up in front of the nation. there were dozens of cameras there, television cameras, there were -- i don't know. 20, 30 still photographers. thousands of people and i stood up in front of the country, reached into my shirt, visibly for the nation to see, and took the ribbons off my chest, said a few words and threw them over the fence. the file footage, the reporter there from the ""boston globe,"" everybody got it correctly. and i never asserted otherwise. what i said was and back then, you know, ribbons, medals were absolutely interchangeable . senator simmington asking me questions in the committee hearing, look ad at the ribbons and said what are those medals? the u.s. navy pam let calls the medals, we referred to them it is a symbols, representing medals, ribbons, countless veterans through the ribbon -- threw the ribbons back. everybody did. veterans threw back dog tags. they threw back photographs, they th rew back their 14's. there are photographs of a pile of all of those things collected on the steps of the capitol. so the fact is that i have -- i have been accurate precisely about what took place. and i am the one who later made clear exactly what happened. i mean, this is a controversy that the republicans are pushing , the republicans have spent $60 million in the last few weeks trying to attack me. and this comes from a president and a republican party that can't even answer whether or not he showed up for duty in the national guard. i'm not going to stand for it.
GIBSON: senator, i was there 33 years ago and i saw you throw medals over the fence and we didn't find out until later -
KERRY: no, you didn't see me throw th. charlie, charlie, you are wrong. that's not what happened. i threw my ribbons across. all you have to do -
GIBSON: someone else's medals, correct in?
KERRY: after -- excuse me. excuse me, charlie. after the ceremony was over, i had a bronze star and a purple heart given to me, one purple heart by a veteran in the v.a. in new york and the bronze star by an older veteran of world war ii in massachusetts. i threw them over because they asked me to. i never --
GIBSON: let me come back to the thing just said which is the military --
KERRY: this is a phony -- charlie, this is a phony controversy.
GIBSON:the military makes no distinction between ribbons and medals but you are the one who made the distinction. in 1984 --
KERRY: no . we made no distinction back then, charlie. we made no distinction.
Kerry knows there is no distinction between ribbons and medals. And yet he chose, very precisely, I might add, to keep his own medals, as they might prove useful later in a political campaign. Countrary to his repeated assertions, he did make a distinction: one bourne of a curious combination of disdain for combat and those who engage in it, intermingled with a craven desire for grasping the political opportunities said medals could bring about. As is his wont, he is attempting, quite transparently, to have it both ways.
Note also that as he is trying to explain his own actions, he predictably brings up the subject of Bush's Air National Guard service (unlike Kerry, Bush has made all military records pertinent to his service available to the press: Kerry has yet to meet the standard of full disclosure). He blew this interview with Charlie Gibson, and his handlers have to know it. They must be hoping that the "anyone but Bush" sentiment is so strong that no amount of truth applied to Kerry's public persona could penetrate it. With the diehard LLL's this is so: but in key swing states like Ohio, where God, Family and Country form a triumverate that trumps liberalism, people see the distinction. Kerry's insisting otherwise is wishful thinking.
Perhaps I'm wrong, but could we in fact be witnessing the "YEEEEAAAAAGGGGHHHH!" moment of John Forbes Kerry?