New York Times reporter Jodi Wilgoren was satisfied with John
Kerry’s appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on April 19th. The Times
declared that, “He appeared well prepared for the forum and avoided
verbal stumbles, correctly pronouncing the name of the United Nations’
envoy to Iraq, Lakhdar Brahimi, which he had mangled three times in
recent days. Hours later, at the University of Miami, Mr. Kerry goofed
again, referring to the envoy as ‘Brandini.’” So Kerry on at least four
occasions has mispronounced the name of a top U.N. official? If
President Bush had made such a series of mistakes, would the Times still
say that he was “well prepared?”
At the very end of the story, the Times mentioned an “awkward
moment,” when host Tim Russert confronted him about his claim during a
TV appearance 30 years ago that U.S. commanders and troops in Vietnam
were guilty of war crimes. The Times said that Kerry wore an “odd grin”
when he answered by asking Russert where his dark hair had gone. The
Times ignored another awkward exchange-when Kerry called himself stupid
for once saying that U.S. troops should only be deployed at the
directive of the U.N.
Kerry told Russert that “a lot” of stories about U.S. troops committing
atrocities in Vietnam had been “documented.” But Kerry didn’t name one,
and Russert didn’t ask for any documentation. On the other hand,
Russert did bring up the charge by one of Kerry’s commanding officers in
Vietnam that Kerry’s first Purple Heart wasn’t earned. The Boston Globe
disclosed that retired Lieutenant Commander Grant Hibbard said that
Kerry’s wound “resembled a scrape from a fingernail.” Hibbard said that
he couldn’t even be certain whether Kerry actually came under fire.
Kerry told Russert the controversy was all “politics” and that the Navy
had decided he earned the Purple Heart.
Russert dropped the ball on several occasions. He had a good question
about Kerry’s criticism of Bush and the Iraq policy in view of Kerry’s
statement that he would quit issuing complaints about the war once
Americans were on the battlefield. Kerry had said that similar
criticism had undermined the morale of U.S. troops fighting in the
Vietnam War. Kerry responded that his statement about refraining from
criticizing Iraq policy was only good until U.S. troops “had taken
control of the country.” Has he noticed that U.S. troops are still
fighting and dying to take control of the country?
In a related matter, Russert didn’t ask Kerry for any comment about his
patron, Senator Ted Kennedy, charging that Iraq was “George Bush’s
Vietnam.” Russert also ignored the release of FBI documents showing
that Kerry lied about participating in a meeting of Vietnam Veterans
Against the War where some discussed assassinating members of the U.S.
This is a group, represented by anti-American activist Ramsey Clark,
which worked to end the war on the terms advanced by the communist enemy
in Hanoi. This is the first time that a presidential candidate has come
out of an organization that came under FBI surveillance because of its
violence-prone and pro-communist activities. But it wasn’t an issue for
Tim Russert and Meet the Press.