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Saturday, September 04, 2004

Kranish book makes awful first impression

I'm genuinely trying to withhold judgment, but even before I got to the pages with regular numbers, I'm having serious doubts about Michael Kranish et al.'s John F. Kerry: The Complete Biography by the Boston Globe Reporters Who Know Him Best.  At page xxvi in the Introduction (boldface mine):

Do these actions reflect the conflicts of a powerful intellect, of a man who appreciates nuance in policy and deeds but sometimes has trouble translating it to a mass audience?  Do his statements and votes on military force reflect the natural caution of a man who was severely wounded in combat, who watched men under his command die, who lost five of his best friends in a war that ended in U.S. withdrawal? ...

I'm wondering if maybe this book is actually about former Sen. Bob Kerrey.  I'm almost certain that John Kerry wasn't ever "severely wounded" because I Google-searched his campaign website for that phrase and got zero hits.  Maybe he was "severely wounded," and just didn't tell anyone on his campaign staff, d'ya think?  I'm in suspense — must resist the urge to skip ahead in the book to find out whether he survived or not!

(Google search is so much fun!  It tells us that "bandaid," for instance, does appear one time — but it's something about Bush's "bandaid solutions" to economic problems.  No hits for "ouchie," "boo-boo," "kiss it and make it better," "Ghengis Khan," "Hanoi Hilton," "Jane Fonda," "cabana boy," "diddler," "Boston Strangler," or "do you know who I am," either.  Twenty-six hits for "Purple Heart," though, which would be approximately 26 more than the stitches Kerry's severe wounds required; zero hits for "stitches" or "stitch."  But "Vietnam" pulls 236 hits — hey, did you know Kerry served in Vietnam?  "Combat" gets 165 hits; "veteran" scores 164; "courage" pulls up 106; "swift boat" draws 71; "brave" and "decorated" tie at 50; "medal" pops up 34 hits; and "hero" draws a modest 24.  "Gridley" bottoms out at 11; man, those guys have such a right to feel slighted.) 

And I'm pretty sure that if Kerry'd had a crewman die in his arms, Doug Brinkley would have already written the major motion picture movie script and Spielberg would have rushed it into production. 

But we'll see, we'll see.  Maybe by chapter three, I'll have it figured out.

Posted by Beldar at 05:44 AM in Books, Humor, Politics (2006 & earlier), SwiftVets | Permalink


Other weblog posts, if any, whose authors have linked to Kranish book makes awful first impression and sent a trackback ping are listed here:

» Show Trial #5 from The Politburo Diktat

Tracked on Sep 4, 2004 12:20:11 PM

» BELDARBLOG from PRESTOPUNDIT -- "Kerry in Cambodia" Wall-to-Wall Coverage

Tracked on Sep 5, 2004 1:34:49 AM

» SwiftVets update from BeldarBlog

Tracked on Oct 5, 2004 7:13:37 PM


(1) Birkel made the following comment | Sep 4, 2004 6:41:14 AM | Permalink

No nonsense, straight up, LOL funny.
Must. Contain. Side. Splitting. Laughter.

Am I right that his website shows 26 PHs?
Does that mean he was wounded 26 times but only got PHs for the worst of them? :)

Speaking of boo-boo, did you search for 'Boo Boo' the friendly bear at Jellystone Park?
How about Yogi?

34 medal hits?
The man's a hero for shizza.

Just think, this is from the Boston Globe reporters who "know him best
" if you can believe it!!!

Still. Laughing. Uncontrollably...
Typing. Difficult...

(2) Todd made the following comment | Sep 4, 2004 7:34:25 AM | Permalink

You forgot to search for "owie," Beldar. I feel confident that you would have opened a treasure trove of references if you'd used that one.

Now, exuse me. My cat just scratched me and I'm going to apply for a Purple Heart.

(3) Birkel made the following comment | Sep 4, 2004 10:37:22 AM | Permalink

Catch Scratch Fever is a dangerous disease as Ted Nugent will surely tell you.

(4) MaDr made the following comment | Sep 4, 2004 10:40:22 AM | Permalink

"a man who was severely wounded in combat"

He was. Emotionally that is. Some think the Senate floor can be combat - who doubts that "sear" would translate into a severe wound?

(5) Patrick R. Sullivan made the following comment | Sep 4, 2004 10:56:50 AM | Permalink

"watched men under his command die"

I don't think so.

(6) Gary made the following comment | Sep 4, 2004 11:25:48 AM | Permalink

As a Vietnam vet myself with 20 months in country (I CORPS), 1st Marine Division, 1968 and 69, I can't imagine anything that would be more demoralizing to the US military,in a time of war,than to have this phony treasonous wuss installed as Commander and Chief. This guy ain't no hero,not even close,and he's no Commander and Chief. Severely wounded my A**.

(7) Tom Maguire made the following comment | Sep 4, 2004 11:31:46 AM | Permalink

RE: "...a man who was severely wounded":

Perhaps he meant psychological wounds, although Kerry denies it.

(8) J_Crater made the following comment | Sep 4, 2004 1:46:15 PM | Permalink

I can't find the link, but I saw it yesterday.
Some folks looking for more medical records on Kerry claimed that he still wakes up at night from nightmares, in one case smashing a lamp. Perhaps this is his severe wound.

(9) Todd made the following comment | Sep 4, 2004 1:58:38 PM | Permalink

Birkel - Ted's a good man, but he was talking about a different kind of "cat."

Gary - I honor your service to our country. If only John Kerry had, he might not find himself in this pickle.

(10) tbrosz made the following comment | Sep 4, 2004 2:17:33 PM | Permalink

A lot of this has already been printed in the Boston Globe. It might be interesting to see if any of the accounts differ between the newspaper excerpts and the book.


(11) recon made the following comment | Sep 4, 2004 2:27:18 PM | Permalink

Kerry got to haul (he says) the bag full of disconnected body parts of Bac She De, the Chinese Nung from the Mike Force who stepped on a mine, back to his boat after grenading his own ass with rice for his 3rd PH at the ville, just prior to his even more infamous Bronze Star incident.

He got to see the results of two deaths resulting from his own gunners' decisions after being physically and mentally absent from his own duty station at the Sampan incident.

I don't think either exactly mesh with the psychotropic statment above.

(12) recon made the following comment | Sep 4, 2004 2:31:53 PM | Permalink

Forgot to mention his firing over the quivering mass of nearly dead meat represented by the wounded Charles he chased down and either faked or executed at the Silver Star incident.

Still doesn't cut it re: above.

People may have died WITHIN his unit during this time, but not UNDER his command.

BS and still more heaps of BS.

But is Krainish a bigger whore than Brinkley? Inquiring minds want to know!!

(13) Robert Crawford made the following comment | Sep 4, 2004 4:31:13 PM | Permalink

It's beginning to sound like "Unfit for Command" is the most accurate biography ever written about Kerry.

(14) Jumbo made the following comment | Sep 4, 2004 4:31:31 PM | Permalink

"severely wounded"?

Not even Kerry contends this. Will Kranish prove an even more assiduous fellatrist than Professor Brinkley?

(15) Dan made the following comment | Sep 4, 2004 4:41:20 PM | Permalink

It likely wouldn't show up in a word search, as all records are in pdf and saved as images. There is nothing in his record supporting serious injury - everything is "minor, return to duty. His website detail reports do not include the Dec 2 purple heart, much in dispute. Taken as a whole, the recodrs to not hold together very well in support of any serious injury and it is apparent that they have been selectively made available. Nothing at all, in detail, exists for Dec and much of Jan. Two of his after action reports for purple hearts are here:


The page below has a box, upper right, where you can go through all available service records.


(16) ed made the following comment | Sep 4, 2004 4:50:00 PM | Permalink


"...who lost five of his best friends..."?

I only remember the one friend that died in Vietnam. The son of general Pershing. Who are the other four?

I really wonder if Kranish didn't get Kerry mixed up with Kerrey.

(17) recon made the following comment | Sep 4, 2004 5:32:36 PM | Permalink

I think the records search will only substantiate that the greatest damage occurred between ear left and ear right.

(18) Rob F. made the following comment | Sep 4, 2004 6:17:03 PM | Permalink

RE: "...who watched men under his command die, who lost five of his best friends in a war that ended in U.S. withdrawal"

Heck that is even news - which men died under his command? I thought Kerry was a super hero that did no wrong. What´s he doing losing men under his command? Who were they?

And Kerry had 5 friends? Besides "Me, myself and I" who are the other two friends?

(19) A.W. made the following comment | Sep 4, 2004 6:24:04 PM | Permalink

Beldar you are AWESOME. seriously. i have gotten about 5 entries over at freespeech from reading your stuff, and this will be another (yes, with credit to you, dude).

But this might help on the discussion. i blog here about an old Harvard Crimson article:


There they say he was "slightly" wounded.

(20) M. Simon made the following comment | Sep 4, 2004 6:50:25 PM | Permalink

I think the author just got the tense wrong. As in:

"Kerry will be severely wounded by Bush's post convention bounce."


Steal this sig:

Why did John Kerry meet three times with the representatives of the Viet Cong and Communist North Vietnam?

Some times it takes a while to sell out your country.

New Soldier html

What is the War Hero Afraid of?
Form 180. Release ALL the records

(21) Beldar made the following comment | Sep 4, 2004 7:10:47 PM | Permalink

Yup, recon, I thought about the dead Nung trooper,

Bac She De, "the loud boisterous, fate [sic — probably meant "fat"], impish man who was something of a ringleader among the Nung and who had endeared himself to everyone by his funny face."

(ToD page 308.) But he wasn't under Kerry's command (except to the extent any infantryman riding aboard a boat is, temporarily, under the command of the boat's skipper like everyone else aboard), nor Kerry's countryman, and Kerry didn't see him die. He was a guy who rode, once, on Kerry's boat, and then got killed by a boobytrap after he and the other Nung were offloaded onto the shore. I'm sure retrieving his remains wasn't pretty, and I can't dispute Kerry's claim to have been powerfully affected by it.

There's another story in ToD (pp. 220-22) of Kerry watching an unknown South Vietnamese soldier die in a field hospital. But again, it wasn't one of his own men — and indeed, Kerry didn't even know the man's name, so Kerry made up a name for him ("I will call him 'Nguyen'") so he could write a properly anguished passage for his journal about the senseless horrors of it all:

"It seemed absurd — a man dying alone in his own country. I wanted to cry but I thought that I couldn't let myself and so tears just welled up in my elelids. Now I wonder why I didn't and I'm sorry."

Again, this may have had a powerful effect on Kerry. But it's not an example to support the quoted passage from Kranish's book. Maybe Kranish will have some different death scenes that weren't in Kerry's diaries for Brinkley to recount, I dunno. We'll see.

Dan, good point about the .pdfs. You're right, if the word "bandaid" is anywhere on Kerry's website, it'd likely be in one of them.

Ed, I'm guessing that Kerry (or Kranish) is counting men like Dan Droz as among Kerry's best friends, and I'm not inclined to quibble with that part of the Kranish passage.

A.W., thanks for the link. From everything I've read, Kerry's been relatively consistent about not himself exaggerating the severity of his war wounds. (Although I'm trying to find again a link to something I saw recently about him telling a reporter that he still has occasional pain from his arm "wound" on 13Mar69 — long-lasting bruise, that one.) That's what makes Kranish's statement all the more astonishing.

(22) betsybounds made the following comment | Sep 4, 2004 7:32:39 PM | Permalink

First of all, what's a PH? Sorry for my ignorance....

Second--OK guys, let's get serious here for a minute. I mean, I know you are, but what might this mean in the longer term? Anybody ready for what someone, not long ago and I forget who it was, called the Toricelli Option? Because if Kerry continues to melt down at his present rate, the Dems will be wanting to throw him over before very long. Anyone have any thoughts along those lines? Or am I totally wack-o (which is not out of the question, by the way)?

(23) Beldar made the following comment | Sep 4, 2004 7:52:39 PM | Permalink

Betsy, PH=Purple Heart. The Toricelli Option worked in New Jersey because the Dems controlled all the levers of government, including the election officials, and the courts turned a blind eye to the violations of state law and regulations — at least that's my recollection and impression. I don't think it's feasible for a national election.

Even the Dems who are heartsick about Kerry's current standing and prospects are telling themselves, "Well, Dubya may say something stupid in the debates (think Ford and Poland in 1976)," or "Maybe someone will turn up with a notarized receipt for Dubya having bought a kilo of cocaine in 1977," or whatever. Plus they'll repeat to themselves, over and over, that Kerry's a "strong closer," and point to his resurrection in the Dem primaries this year and his come-from-behind win over Weld in 1996.

I don't think you're wacko by any means, but I think the notion of the Dems throwing Kerry off the ticket is roughly the same kind of interesting speculation as the people who were saying Dubya would ditch Cheney for Condi or someone. I just don't see it happening in the real world.

(24) Curious made the following comment | Sep 4, 2004 8:10:11 PM | Permalink

Could it be that Kranish is really working for the Clintons.....?

(25) Ron Hardin made the following comment | Sep 4, 2004 8:50:17 PM | Permalink

Arm death was big in the media in the mid 1980s. Children were dying in mothers' arms a lot. Apparently it sold well with audiences. It's died out though, and been replaced by generalized suffering. I'd be very surprised if anybody died in Kerry's arms in the website.

(26) betsybounds made the following comment | Sep 4, 2004 8:52:02 PM | Permalink


Thanks--I knew that (about the PH)! I try to avoid using acronyms as much as I can--I get more than plenty of them at work! :^D

You're right about the Dems controlling Jersey, but I wouldn't ever put anything past the Clintons. I don't know much about national election law, but I don't know of any agency that regulates the parties' nominating processes. There's the FEC, but I don't think they control the parties' by-laws. There may be some incapacity regulation somewhere--Kerry is showing some signs of instability I think, and if things continue to go the way they are right now he may get worse. He's isolating himself from legitimate questions and questioners (not that anyone seems disposed to hold his feet to the fire in any case) and, unless I miss my guess, he was a bit out of it for that nice midnight display on Thursday. We'll see. This is totally nuts.

(27) Pat Curley made the following comment | Sep 4, 2004 8:57:51 PM | Permalink

There was one crucial factor in the Toricelli option in NJ that doesn't apply here; you had a candidate who was convinced to step down. Kerry will not be convinced.

(28) H.D. Miller made the following comment | Sep 4, 2004 9:06:30 PM | Permalink

Sounds very much like something Douglas Brinkley said during the NPR coverage of Democrats convention.

Brinkley said Kerry's arm was "shattered".


(29) recon made the following comment | Sep 4, 2004 9:07:29 PM | Permalink

No argument, Beldar. Bac She De was under the Mike Force command, of which Rassmann was part.

I was taking an informal inventory of deaths documented in Kerry's presence, and found it apparently short of any to have died while under his command. I don't recall any in UFC either.

The SwiftVets could answer that in a minute or two.

(30) betsybounds made the following comment | Sep 4, 2004 9:11:45 PM | Permalink

Well Pat, there may be a crucial factor or two that wouldn't apply here, but I wouldn't buy Kerry's unconvincability as one of them. There isn't anyone who doesn't have a price. Kerry's already owned by his wife, and there's no reason to think someone else might not be able to push his buttons as well. Shoot, maybe SHE'D do it. I don't get the impression that she's all that nuts about this campaign anyway, and without her he wouldn't even have a bike to ride.

(31) Cambodian Searcher made the following comment | Sep 4, 2004 9:34:51 PM | Permalink

I can't believe you didn't search for "Christmas" or "Cambodia".

Of course you wouldn't get any hits for "Christmas" AND "Cambodia". The two events, searing though they may be, never coincided.

(32) Mike H. made the following comment | Sep 4, 2004 10:06:36 PM | Permalink

recon, his brain housing group lost its watertight

(33) antimedia made the following comment | Sep 4, 2004 10:08:30 PM | Permalink

You ended the bold emphasis too soon. It should have ended after this phrase - who watched men under his command die.

Do I really need to point out that no one under Kerry's command ever died? In fact, I'm not positive, but I don't believe anyone in the Swift boats died while Kerry was in country. In fact the only of Kerry's men who has ever died is Tom Belodeau, who died a few years ago (IIRC, 1986.)

He did see a man die on 13 Mar 69, but that was a Chinese mercenary, not one of his men or even one of the Swift boat crew.

Having now come to the point where I trust nothing that Kerry or his hagiographers have written about his Vietname experience, I would question who the five close friends were who died. I know about Thorne and Droz. Who were the other three?

(34) Brad made the following comment | Sep 4, 2004 10:34:20 PM | Permalink

Did anyone google the site for "spitballs" yet? Chris Matthews wants to know if Zell was on to something and if Kerry really does have a plan to arm our soilders with spitballs? The rumor is he'll use recycled paper spitballs and sell that to the enviromentalists and Sierra Club!

(35) antimedia made the following comment | Sep 4, 2004 10:40:56 PM | Permalink

I just checked on Joe Muharsky's Swift boat site. Three Swiftees died while Kerry was in country, so I was mistaken when I posted that earlier. However, I don't believe any Swiftees dies in any of the actions that Kerry was involved in.

(36) Dan made the following comment | Sep 5, 2004 12:14:28 AM | Permalink

I did some googling and found that someone had submitted the question to the yahoo answer man. Answer below:

“His last Purple Heart came from injuries sustained on March 13, 1969. A mine exploded under Kerry's boat and wounded him in the right arm. Despite the injury, Kerry rescued a Green Beret and assisted other damaged boats while braving sniper fire from the riverbanks. This incident earned Kerry a Bronze Star with Combat V for "calmness, professionalism, and great personal courage under fire." This final injury was the most severe and gave Kerry pain for years.”

The actual documents say different. From Kerry’s site - The actual after action report submitted at the time states that Kerry's "injuries" were "contusion right forearm (minor) and a shrapnel wound left buttocks."

The “minor” is an actual comment on the medical report signed by the individual that treated him.

(37) TY GONSALVES made the following comment | Sep 5, 2004 5:48:13 AM | Permalink

Kerry lied to the U.S. Senate about Cambodia,this is irrefuteable, how could that body ever respect his credibility.If not for the biased media protection of this ManKerrian Candidate,which in my opinion flirts with treason,the race would be all but over,and undoubtly is anyway.

(38) Beldar made the following comment | Sep 5, 2004 9:06:11 AM | Permalink

Thanks, Dan. With your help, I found the post that you quoted from the "Yahoo Answer Man" (a self-fisking job title, eh?). In it, Kranish's Boston Globe article from June 16, 2003, is cited as the source, and indeed includes these lines (boldface mine):

Kerry had been wounded three times and received three Purple Hearts. Asked about the severity of the wounds, Kerry said that one of them cost him about two days of service, and that the other two did not interrupt his duty. "Walking wounded," as Kerry put it. A shrapnel wound in his left arm gave Kerry pain for years.

This was what I'd recalled seeing before. The third Purple Heart wounds were shrapnel to the left buttock and a bruise to the right arm, so the "pain for years" shrapnel wound must have been a reference to the first Purple Heart "rose thorn" wound to his left arm that Dr. Letson treated. The lost "two days of service" is also an exaggeration of course. I'm assuming this Kranish news story makes its way into the Kranish book as well, but I'm not that far yet in my reading, so I don't know whether this, or something else, was the basis for the "severely wounded" language from the Introduction of the Kranish book that I quoted in my original post above.

(39) Steel Turman made the following comment | Sep 5, 2004 11:07:59 AM | Permalink

John Kerry WAS severely wounded in combat. He lost his &#@$%^*& mind. And due to cutbacks in the VA, he ain't been able to recover ... it.

If W don't step on his crank, Kerry is lost as well.

(40) Al made the following comment | Sep 5, 2004 4:38:44 PM | Permalink

I have a question about the "Torricelli Option".

What _would_ happen?

_I_ (and IANAL) think it happens on a state by state basis at least initially. Blue states say 'hey, looks legit to us', Red states say 'you're smoking something'... -> _no_ D is on all the ballots. Florida 2000 becomes a cakewalk.

(41) Steel Turman made the following comment | Sep 6, 2004 3:33:39 AM | Permalink

Gary made a comment way back up there that got
me to thinking.

All the troops are aware of this Kerry fiasco.
Have to be. How do you think THEY'LL take if,
perchance that piece of slug bait gets elected?

Not well I'll aver.

I actually think this might be a good take for
some 527 to go after. The demoralization of
our troops ALREADY in harm's way by Kerry's

(42) jaed made the following comment | Sep 6, 2004 10:46:02 PM | Permalink

Hmmm. Maybe the "severe" wound was the "leg wound" Kerry referred to a couple of weeks ago, in which he still (so Kerry says) carries shrapnel? Recall that?

(The thing is that shrapnel left in the body isn't benign. Doctors will remove it if they possibly can. And none of the records on Kerry's PHs indicate a serious or deep enough wound to drive shrapnel in where it would be medically unwise to remove it surgically.)

I am really starting to wonder about these injury stories...

(43) TY GONSALVES made the following comment | Sep 7, 2004 4:01:27 AM | Permalink

Is there tape of Kerry lying to the senate about his secret mission in Cambodia.Because if there is it would make a great Swift boat ad.It goes to the core of the man who wants to be commander and chief.As I said before its irrefuteable that he lied, irrefuteable that the biased media has chosen to given JFK a pass on this travesty,and I believe irrefuteable that the American people would give him that same pass.

(44) TY Gonsalves made the following comment | Sep 7, 2004 7:21:40 PM | Permalink

The last sentence in my last entry should have been "and I believe irrefuteable that the American people would NOT give him that same pass.........My apologies and could you either correct it for me or post this correction under it for me. Thank You my patriotic friend.

(45) TY GONSALVES made the following comment | Sep 7, 2004 7:33:17 PM | Permalink

Made a mistake in my last entry, the last sentence should have been,and I believe irrefuteable that the American people would NOT give him that same pass. My apologies,would you either correct this error for me or post this underneath it for me.Thanks

(46) TY GONSALVES made the following comment | Sep 14, 2004 4:58:51 AM | Permalink

Think Mr.Gore now wishes he never invented the internet????

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