I probably wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes. But here was Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday with Van Odell, member of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and John Hurley, National Director of Veterans for Kerry. Much to my amazement, Wallace tore through both of them like Tim Russert on steroids.
One of the exchanges…
Wallace: Mr. Odell, I want to start by asking you about contradictions in what some leaders of your group have been saying over the years — George Elliot, who was the commander of the division that all of your swift boats were part of. Let’s look at what Elliot says in one of your ads now, and what he said about John Kerry back in 1996. Take a look.
[…tape of Elliot speaking in new ad…] John Kerry has not been honest about what happened in Vietnam.
[…tape of Elliot speaking on October 27, 1996, with Kerry by his side…] John turned his boats to the beach, and the enemy was routed. The fact that he chased an armed enemy down is something not to be looked down upon, but it was an act of courage.
Wallace: Back then, when there was no presidential campaign, Mr. Elliot said that Kerry had acted courageously.
Odell: Well, yes he did… But at that time, John Kerry was being attacked for being a war criminal by his opponent… [etc.]
Wallace: […not accepting the evasive answer…] But here’s a man who says that John Kerry has not been honest about what happened in Vietnam, but in '96 he said that he acted courageously. Let me show you a statement by another one of your members, Adrain Lonsdale. Let’s take a look now at what he says in one of your ads, and what he said in 1996. Here it is.
[…tape of Lonsdale in new ad…] He lacks the capacity to lead.
[…tape of Lonsdale speaking on October 27, 1996, with Kerry by his side…] It was mainly won because of the bravado and the courage of the young officers that ran the boats, the swift boats, and the Coast Guard cutters, and Senator Kerry was no exception. He was among the finest of those swift boat drivers.
Wallace: Again, here’s a man who lacks the capacity to lead, according to Mr. Lonsdale, but back in '96 showed courage, bravado, and was one of the finest swift boat drivers.
Odell: Well, again, you have to ask Lonsdale what he said about that… [and blah blah blah]
There was lots more, including a laugh-out-loud moment when Wallace read the official Navy recommendation for Kerry’s Bronze Star that directly contradicted Odell’s assertion that there was no enemy fire that day, and then showed Odell that it was signed by George Elliot. Elliot, of course, was the division commander and is a member of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.
Odell deflected the question and said that Elliot was only going by Kerry’s own report. Wallace shot down that answer two different ways: (1) was Odell suggesting that there is some massive conspiracy of silence since no one else has contradicted Elliot’s report, and (2) did Odell have even a shred of evidence that the report was in any way fabricated?
“I have an official US Navy document signed by your own man,” said Wallace, literally shaking the paper at Odell. “Do you have any sort of document at all to contradict it?”
Now, he bored into the other guy as well, enough so that the guy became visibly flush and angry, but that isn’t as interesting since you would have expected Fox to bore into him. By the end of it all, when Wallace was finished, both sides looked like the shameless shills that they are.
Good job, Chris! And to both veterans groups, fuck you very much for all this brouhaha about a tempest in a teapot when the imporant issue is about who will be the lesser tyrant.