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Sunday, August 29, 2004

Brinkley and Kerry as students of history

I could blog for a week, I'm sure, with nothing but my reactions while reading Doug Brinkley's Tour of Duty, but I'm intermixing my reading with some light blogospheric skimming, and another juxtaposition jumped out at me.

From ToD at page 115, discussing Kerry's reactions to the August 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, while he was training for his Swift Boats assignment in San Diego:

It was one more sign that America seemed to be unraveling into anarchy that year.  On top of the deadly riots in Detroit, Newark, and other cities after the assassination of Martin Luther King, John Kerry's great fear, as he watched an estimated 8,000 to 10,000 antiwar protesters clash with some 12,000 Chicago police, 6,000 U.S. Army troops, 6,000 National Guardsmen, and 1,000 FBI agents, was that a bloody massacre of Antietam-like proportions was in the offing.  The media dubbed the melee the Battle of Michigan Avenue.  Fortunately, the violence was contained with no loss of life.

"Antietam-like proportions"?

Although there were longer battles in which more men died, Antietam was the deadliest single-day battle in America's deadliest war, with 3650 Union and Confederate soldiers killed outright.  Did Kerry honestly expect 3650 deaths at the Chicago DNC?  And how can a professor of history report that with a straight face?

Of course, there's a more recent national catastrophe in another pair of large American cities in which something on the order of 3000 Americans did die in a single day, in a war most of them (and most of us) didn't yet realize was under way.  Roger L. Simon, blogging from the Republican National Convention in New York, nicely sums up the 2004 presidential election in one snapshot of bemused NYPD cops watching the anti-Republican protesters swirl around them, and one six-word quote from one of New York's finest (a quote so good I'll break my usual policy of avoiding hard profanity and quasi-profanity on BeldarBlog):

Photo shamelessly stolen from rogerlsimon.com

Cops were everywhere. It was fun talking to them. One of them said to me, "It's like fuggin' 9/11 never happened." His buddies seemed to agree.

Now there's a real student of history speaking!

Posted by Beldar at 08:00 PM in Books, Politics (2006 & earlier), SwiftVets | Permalink


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» The one item that David Brinkley managed to actually get right....the arrogance of Kerry from The Pink Flamingo Bar grill

Tracked on Aug 30, 2004 12:29:39 AM


(1) Paul H. made the following comment | Aug 30, 2004 1:29:42 AM | Permalink

Great post. These guys (Kerry and Brinkley) are full of themselves to a level that's almost fictional.

The continual rush of new examples of Kerry's inflated self-importance make me want to snort with laughter, except I also want to weep at the prospect of a guy with an ego this inflated making life-and-death decisions for the troops.

Why didn't Brinkley ensure that Kerry use the New York City Draft Riots (also in 1863) as the appropriate analogy? Even this standard AB History non-author non-PhD can think of that one all by himself.

Hadn't they both seen "Gangs of New York" at the time of writing? Maybe that title, and the riot analogy, is reserved for a future planned edition, with a prospective chapter on the current Republican political convention. Only in the mind of oh-so-sensitive Kerry.

(2) Lord Whorfin made the following comment | Aug 30, 2004 6:25:15 AM | Permalink


Sometimes, you need to use profanity to accurately capture and express the meaning.

Outstanding work exposing "The Great Poseur"

(apologies to Fitzgerald's "Great Gatsby")

(3) Todd made the following comment | Aug 30, 2004 8:31:30 AM | Permalink

I guess I'm going to have to pick up "Tour of Duty," although I'm reluctant to give any money to the knucklehead Brinkley. But I feel as if I'm missing out on a lot of fun.

The sense I'm getting of Kerry is one of inherent silliness, of being out of touch with reality. I'm not sure that anyone as silly as Kerry should ever be President. And that silly chart posted on the Kerry Campaign web site of the "connections" between the Swiftees and the Bush Campaign speaks volumes as to the state of mind of the Kerry Campaign (and I don't mean that in a good way).

(4) Dan S made the following comment | Aug 30, 2004 8:59:49 AM | Permalink

Yeah, my fiction stack is getting short. I think I can add Tour of Duty to it.

I do wince at the thought of subsidizing this sort of writing, however.

(5) ed made the following comment | Aug 30, 2004 11:37:37 AM | Permalink


Yeah. I'll probably pick up ToD myself. I don't want to give either of them money but I do want to comb through it for even more nonsense.

I'm sure there's a couple thousand words worth of crap in there.

(6) rob made the following comment | Aug 30, 2004 4:37:46 PM | Permalink

Don't buy Tour of Duty, get your local library to buy it! They're libs anyway, and will be glad to get it for you!!

(7) Pat Curley made the following comment | Aug 30, 2004 5:05:12 PM | Permalink

Let me second the notion of holding off on buying the book. A paperback edition is due out next month, and at least on the hardcover I bought, the binding is pretty crappy, so it's starting to fall apart already.

The Antietam comparison is ridiculous of course, but I could certainly imagine young leftists getting hyperbolic about the images shown on TV of cops whacking college students over the head. I know it certainly had that effect on me. I became a radical leftist for about the next 12 years as a result of watching the Chicago convention. Ah, the memories!

(8) Al made the following comment | Aug 30, 2004 9:21:31 PM | Permalink

There's been reference already to the the online snippets being redacted of things that reflect poorly compared to other people's memories. So the paperback may not be identical.

(9) Pat Curley made the following comment | Aug 31, 2004 12:10:49 AM | Permalink

Al, as a research tool I'd say that Tour has been invaluable, and I suspect it will have been stripped of only a little of its stories, although of course we will goggle at those that do disappear. Will the Mystery Boat story vanish with Skip Barker?

(10) Al made the following comment | Aug 31, 2004 1:43:23 PM | Permalink

Pat, you might say that the prime usefulness of the paperback _is_ the discrepancies. I hope they all get compiled somewhere concisely.

(11) ronnie schreiber made the following comment | Aug 31, 2004 11:39:40 PM | Permalink

It was one more sign that America seemed to be unraveling into anarchy that year. On top of the deadly riots in Detroit, Newark, and other cities after the assassination of Martin Luther King,

This is a serious mistake for someone who calls themself a historian.

There were no "deadly riots in Detroit" in 1968 following the assassination of MLKjr. I've lived in the Detroit area my entire life and there was no serious racial violence in Detroit in 68. In 1967, there was a huge riot, for days, with 43 killed and the Nat'l Guard in the streets, but in 1968 the city was quiet, in part because of the success of the Detroit Tigers.

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