As I was reading today's latest fusillade of defensive-armor-piercing bomblets from Mark Steyn, it occurred to me, the reason why I like him so much is because he keeps putting into words, better than I can, what's been bothering me the most about the war and election-coverage.
Truth has always been a slippery subject. As a middle-aged lawyer, with a Degree in Psychology, I have known that for a long time. Perhaps some of you have seen the great '50's Japanese movie, "Rashomon?" You should see it, if you haven't yet; they've come out with a DVD-version, that is very clean and stunning. I watched it a few weeks ago, and I've been thinking about it ever since, especially with all the Court TV(Peterson and Hacking cases, mostly) and election-coverage I've been watching and reading.
Also, there's the brilliant "Memento," from a couple years ago, a fearful story about the perils of losing your memory, among other things. There is always
my side...and your side...and his side...and her side...and where is the truth? Memories are blurred by time, emotions and events until they are very suspect approximations of the facts, and even recent memories are suspect, due to the different ways in which we perceive our surroundings. Try to get two "eyewitnesses" to describe a car-accident the same way. It's nearly impossible, as any traffic cop will tell you.
Throw in the incredible complexity and horror of wartime, and you can hardly expect the memories of soldiers to match up perfectly, if at all. However, they seem to do a pretty decent job of telling their personal stories on "The History Channel," and they don't get a lot of veterans calling in to say "That guy's fulla bunk...I was at Midway, and there were dozens of Jap subs in the water, not just two or three." Over time, the story of many great battles have been stitched together pretty well, as so many of the participants have agreed on the basic facts.
Which brings us to John Fricking Kerry, and his fish-tale about Cambodia. We'll leave out, for the time being, all the b.s. about Purple Hearts, Bronze Stars, and throwing medals over the fence(with little strings attached, so you can retrieve them). We know for a fact, now, that Kerry has lied on numerous occasions about his supposed "CIA-sponsored" trip to Cambodia, and the events that occurred therein. The facts that we know
, have proven Kerry lied, beyond a shadow of a doubt. He is guilty of prevarication in this matter.
In earlier, less-civilized times, he would be standing bent over in the stocks right now, while passersby rained spit and the occasional dirt-clod or rock upon him. He'd get at least 16 hours of such abuse, for the Cambodia lie, if I was the periwigged-out judge in the case.
As Steyn puts it, about the way "truth" is perceived these days:
That's such an exquisitely contemporary formulation: "my" truth. Once upon a time, there was only "the" truth. Now everyone gets his own...
In other words, in today's world, "The Lie" is expected! So is "The Denial," when the liar is caught lying. Everyone always
denies wrongdoing, when they are accused: "I didn't do it. I didn't do it. I didn't do it!" Until their teat finally gets caught in the wringer, and they're so
caught by events and trapped by circumstances that they can no longer lie.
Then, when they are finally forced to 'fess up, like Clinton when the nasty bleu dress was produced, they expect everyone to understand they had
to lie, earlier, as if it's okay to keep lying until you're so goddam caught you can't lie effectively anymore.
The Lie, and The Denial that inevitably follows, carry with them the outrageous presumption that they are "merely* lies of convenience, to be revised and subsequently tailored at some later date, when an acceptable "truth" has been negotiated.
Well, I'm too old to be an idealist, and deny that this is the reality. However, there are mistaken memories, white lies, lies of convenience, and then there are big fat whopper-lies that pathological liars like Kerry, Peterson and Hacking can tell without blinking an eye, right into your eyes, just as calm(an EKG would not pick up a racing heartbeat, as it would in the case of us non-pathological liars) as cucumbers, and just as assured in the moment of their own truthfulness and innocence.
In my mind, and irrevocably at this point, Kerry is just this kind of liar. You could catch him f'ing your male chihuahua in the rear, and he'd convince you he was trying to teach the good doggie to roll over and play dead. Unless you were on guard, and familiar with this kind of lying bastard, as I have become over the years.
Youngsters can be forgiven, for not being able to recognize the innate corruption and duplicity of such a creature. They just don't have the experience. Those of us in our mid-to-late 30's and 40's are old enough to know better, and we should remain so, until Alzheimer's or the booze gets us in our 70's, and we find ourselves donating a fortune to the late-nite infomercial cabal.
Democrats peddle their own unique truth
August 15, 2004
BY MARK STEYN SUN-TIMES COLUMNIST
'My truth is that I am a gay American,'' announced Gov. James McGreevey to the people of New Jersey last Thursday.
That's such an exquisitely contemporary formulation: ''my'' truth. Once upon a time, there was only ''the'' truth. Now everyone gets his own -- or, as the governor put it, ''One has to look deeply into the mirror of one's soul and decide one's unique truth in the world.'' For Jim McGreevey, his truth is that he's a gay American; for others in the Garden State, the truth about McGreevey is that he's a corrupt sexual harasser who put his lover on the state payroll in a critical homeland security post, and whose I-am-what-I-am confessional is a tactical feint that distracts the media sob sisters from the fact that, as his final service to the Democratic Party, he's resigned in such a way as to deny the people an early vote on his successor.
We'll see whose truth prevails in the fullness of time.
In politics, it's helpful if whatever ''unique truth'' the consultants have run past the focus groups bears at least a passing relationship to the real, actual truth -- not the whole truth, but at least a grain of it. That was what was so ingenious about Bill Clinton's ''60 Minutes'' appearance in 1992. He didn't come clean -- he was, as usual, full of it -- but he set in motion his designated ''unique truth'' -- flawed but human. It was designed to get him past Gennifer, but it wound up also getting him past Paula, Monica, Kathleen, Juanita. . . . Whatever goods you got on him, it fit ''his truth'' as he sold it to us on CBS that day. As his attorney Cheryl Mills put it during the impeachment trial, Bill Clinton, along with Jefferson, Kennedy and Martin Luther King, ''made human errors, but they struggled to do humanity good . . .''
Which brings us to John Kerry. What is his unique truth? In 1986, on the floor of the United States Senate, he said:
''I remember Christmas of 1968, sitting on a gunboat in Cambodia. I remember what it was like to be shot at by the Vietnamese and the Khmer Rouge and Cambodians, and the president of the United States telling the American people that I was not there, the troops were not in Cambodia. I have that memory, which is seared -- seared -- in me.''
Though the seared senator peddled this searing memory for a quarter-century, it had evidently been seared into him pretty haphazardly. It turns out at Christmas 1968 he wasn't in Cambodia but was instead 55 miles away at Sa Dec, South Vietnam. So the Kerry campaign's begun riffling hurriedly through its Sears Rowback catalog for more or less watertight back-pedaling of the story: They now say that ''many times he was on or near the Cambodian border,'' which is true in the sense that 80 percent of Canadians live on or near the American border. But most folks in Vancouver don't claim to be living in the Greater Seattle area.
Earlier, senior Kerry spokesman Michael Meehan told ABC News: ''The Mekong Delta consists of the border between Cambodia and Vietnam, so on Christmas Eve in 1968, he was in fact on patrol ... in the Mekong Delta between Cambodia and Vietnam.'' For a crowd of ostentatious multilateralists, they can't seem to hold the map the right way up: The Mekong River isn't the border between Cambodia and Vietnam; it cuts through the heart of Cambodia and then runs through Vietnam to the sea.
But this question isn't about geographical degrees of latitude so much as psychological ones. Here's the real reason Lt. Kerry wasn't spending Dec. 24, 1968, on a secret mission in Cambodia: On the previous day, Dec. 23, the U.S. government finally secured the release, after a five-month diplomatic stand-off, of 11 Americans whose U.S. Army utility landing craft had made a navigational error and strayed into Cambodian waters. Prince Sihanouk had rejected U.S. apologies and threatened to try the men under Cambodian law. It's unlikely, 24 hours after their release, anyone in Washington was thinking, ''Hey, we need to send that hotshot Kerry in there.''
So what are we to make of Sen. Kerry's self-seared 30-year-old false memory of Christmas in Cambodia with its vast accumulation of precise details? Of being shot at by the Khmer Rouge (unlikely in 1968) and of South Vietnamese troops drunkenly celebrating Christmas (as only devout Buddhists know how)?
It's not about dates and places. For Kerry, his Yuletide mission was an epiphany: the moment when he realized his government was lying to the people about what was going on. This is the turning point, the moment that set the young Kerry on the path from brave young war volunteer to fierce anti-war activist.
And it turns out it's total bunk.
Thirty-five years on, having no appealing campaign themes, the senator decides to run for president on his biography. But for the last 20 years he's been a legislative non-entity. Before that, he was accusing his brave band of brothers of mutilation, rape and torture. He spent his early life at Swiss finishing school and his later life living off his wife's inheritance from her first husband. So, biography-wise, that leaves four months in Vietnam, which he talks about non-stop. That 1986 Senate speech is typical: It was supposed to be about Reagan policy in Central America, but like so many Kerry speeches and interviews somehow it winds up with yet another self-aggrandizing trip down memory lane.
A handful of Kerry's ''band of brothers'' are traveling around with his campaign. Most of the rest, including a majority of his fellow swift boat commanders and 254 swiftees from Kerry's Coastal Squadron One, are opposed to his candidacy. That is an amazing ratio and, if snot-nosed American media grandees don't think there's a story there, maybe they ought to consider another line of work. To put it in terms they can understand, imagine if Dick Cheney campaigned for the presidency on the basis of his time at Halliburton, and a majority of the Halliburton board and 80 percent of the stockholders declared he was unfit for office. More to the point, on the swift vets' first major allegation -- Christmas in Cambodia -- the Kerry campaign has caved.
Who is John Kerry? What is his ''unique truth?'' Consider this vignette from New Hampshire primary season as retailed in a recent 8,000-word yawneroo puff piece in the New Yorker:
'' 'He'll often thrash around in the night,' the filmmaker George Butler, who is one of Kerry's oldest friends, told me. 'He smashed up a lamp in my house in New Hampshire, in the bedroom where he was staying. Most Vietnam veterans go through this.'''
''Most?'' Whether or not John Kerry ever entered Cambodia, he seems unable, psychologically, to exit it.
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