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Tuesday, August 17, 2004

O'Neill's debating points (when he's not shouted down)

MSNBC has posted a transcript of the debate last night on Joe Scarborough's "Scarborough Country" program between SwiftVets spokesman John O'Neill and John Hurley, national director of Vietnam Veterans for John Kerry.  It forms a marked contrast with the shouting spree indulged in by Kerry partisans Lanny Davis and James Carville in their recent appearance with O'Neill on CNN (which even Davis has since admitted was "over the line").

Just as a "fer example," here's the exchange on whether there was or was not enemy fire coming in from the shorelines when Kerry rescued Rassmann (referred to as "Rasmussen" in the transcript) to win his Bronze Star (boldface mine):

SCARBOROUGH:  OK.  John, I've got to ask you this, John O'Neill, because during the Boston convention, I gave John Kerry credit.  The story's a remarkable story.  A man goes overboard, he turns his boat back around.  He turns it into the shore, goes towards enemy fire, saves a guy that he says is one of his band of brothers, brings him up, gets the award for it.  Rasmussen is there, hugs him, thanks him, says he owes his life to him.  Have I been duped? Has Rasmussen been duped or is Rasmussen a liar?

O'NEILL:  You've been totally duped, Joe.  It's a big lie around a small truth.  The truth is that Kerry did come back and Kerry did rescue Rasmussen, put him on his boat, shortly before the Chenoweth boat, within 10 yards of the Chenoweth boat.  There was no fire Joe.  There wasn't—these boats were sitting in place.  Kerry reported to the Navy that there was 3.2 miles of fire from both banks.  Joe, you can talk to all these people tomorrow morning if you want to.  They're here in town.  After the initial mine, there was absolutely no fire.  There's not a bullet hole in any boat.  Nobody was wounded except the people on PCF-3.  It was a total fraud on the American people.  He did come back.  He did come back when there was no fire and he did pick up Rasmussen shortly before the other boats [would've] picked up Rasmussen.  They had been engaged in picking up sailors in the water from PCF-3.  It couldn't go anywhere, Joe.  It didn't have any screws.  It didn't have any crew.  They sat there to save him. 

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.  John Hurley, I'll have you respond.  Go ahead. 

HURLEY:  Joe, it's hard to figure out how to respond.  That's so ludicrous, that so defies what is said in these Navy documents.  The Navy documents say a mine detonated under PCF-3.  It says that another mine detonated blowing Rasmussen in the water and injuring John Kerry.  That's fact.  That's not fiction.  What Mr. O'Neill is engaging in is fiction.  He's trying to recall 35 years after the fact what happened and he's doing a terrible job.  He says that there's no damage to the boat.  Let me read for you the after action report that is the damage assessment of PCF-94, John Kerry's boat, this is the next day back at An Thoi and it says, two starboard and one port main cabinet windows blown out, VRC 46 radio and all remote unit pilot house inoperable,  AC wiring shorted out, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) generator inoperable, steerage control after helm, inoperable.  And it goes on like that.  The boat was unserviceable.  And let me—

O'NEILL:  Can I respond, Joe, to that point?

HURLEY:  Let me add one other thing.  That is it was John Kerry's boat that towed the PCF-3 back to port.  This is just revisionist history Joe.  It makes no sense.  It's dishonorable and dishonest.  The United States Navy documents which Mr. O'Neill ought to accept but disagree with his political agenda because it does not agree with his Republican smear campaign.  He ought to accept what the United States Navy said, what every crewmate that served on those boats with John Kerry had said and he ought to accept it with honor and stop this sham. 


O'NEILL:  Joe, all you have to do is read "Tour of Duty," John Kerry's book on page 304 and you'll learn that those three windows were blown out on the 12th of March, not the 13th.  It's right there in John Kerry's [own] journal.  What they do is try to take damage on the 12th and convey it to the 13th....

But read the whole thing — and decide for yourself who's foaming at the mouth. 

Posted by Beldar at 09:27 AM in Politics (2006 & earlier), SwiftVets | Permalink


Other weblog posts, if any, whose authors have linked to O'Neill's debating points (when he's not shouted down) and sent a trackback ping are listed here:


(1) J Murphy made the following comment | Aug 17, 2004 11:58:05 AM | Permalink

Thanks for posting the link to the Scarborough transcript. It is nice to see fewer interuptions than I saw when Hurley and O'Neill were on "Hardball."

I have seen, or have read the transcripts on, O'Neill's appearances on Hannity and Colmes, Hardball, Crossfire, and now Scarborough. The Dems responses (Lanny Davis, Jeh Johnson and Hurley) have relied on shouting, interrupting, changing the topic and other rhetorical devices to avoid the issues being raised. Their arguments are almost entirely fact-free. And they have yet to address the issue of holding back records which should support Kerry's claims.

Personally, I think the Dems keep bringing a knife to a gun fight with O'Neill.

Kerry is like a little kid who barely made the little league baseball team, played part of a few games, contributed a little to the team for part of one season, and now wants to be Commissioner of Major League Baseball -- NOT because he knows more about running the league, but because he was the BEST PLAYER. Haven't we all run across someone like this?

I don't blame the men around him one bit for describing their experiences with Kerry to try to correct the record. I don't trust self-absorbed, self-aggrandizers, particularly in a position which requires life-or death decisions.

(2) Chris made the following comment | Aug 17, 2004 2:35:32 PM | Permalink

Hmmm, let's see, which do I believe? Politically-motivated, election-year heavy breathing thirty-five years after the fact, or written reports citing eyewitnesses soon after the events? Such hard choices....

Ok, so, let me get this straight. O'Neill has eyewitnesses that can dispute facts in the medal reports. Thirty-five years ago, they were duped by Kerry's lies, even though they were eyewitnesses. Now, thirty-five years later, they are finally able to trust their eyes?

O'Neill has the burden of proof, and he's not overcoming it well. All he's proven is that Kerry is not well-liked by his former Navy peers, 35 years later, after what they consider to be a betrayal at the Senate hearings.

(3) Greg D made the following comment | Aug 17, 2004 6:41:26 PM | Permalink

Well, Chris, let's consider what O'Neil has:

1: Sworn statement from Kerry's commander, saying that he refused to award Kerry a Purple Heart for his grenade scratch, and that he's pissed that Kerry managed to talk someone else into giving him a Purple Heart for it.

That, you say, is nothing. However, if Kerry would release his military records, we could find out how he got the award. Who signed for it, and when? If the commander actually signed for it, we know he's a liar.

If Kerry got it awarded several months after the action, after no one who knew what had happened was available, that would support the commander's tale.

Note that the release of this information is entirely w/n Kerry's control. So if he doesn't release it, the proper conclusion is the information won't support his side.

2: Christmas in Cambodia. We now know Kerry lied about this, repeatedly. This makes everything else he's said less credible.

3: The fact that many of these guys have previously supported Kerry is a point in their favor. They gave him the benefit of the doubt. Then they found out what he really did, and so are against him.

If this was all about the lies he told for VVAW, they wouldn't have supported him, ever.

4: Alston. Kerry claimed he was on the boat when Alston got his shrapnel wounds to the head (1/29/69). We now know that was a lie. Alston claimed he was there when Kerry won his Silver Star. This seems not credible, since six people (Kerry and five crewmembers, a full crew for a swift boat) received awards for that day, and Alston is not one of them. There are other strong reasons to believe Alston wasn't there, but they're not perfect proof.

However, Alston could prove he was there. his personnel records would show where he was assigned, and when. So if he was there, he can prove it, easily.

If the controversy continues, and he doesn't give out those records, again the proper thing to assume is that he's doing so because they show him to be a liar.

5. Bush released all his records from the Texas Air National Guard, despite not having made that service the centerpiece of his campaign. Therefore it is reasonable to expect Kerry to release all his military records, given that he has made his time in Vietnam a centerpiece of his campaign. His failure to do so shows he has much to hide.

(4) J Murphy made the following comment | Aug 17, 2004 7:07:49 PM | Permalink


I think you are right to doubt the politically motivated election year statements made by people with something to gain (Kerry). I also agree that documents prepared at the time of the event have facial validity. Kerry's problem is the Swift Boat Vets (who have nothing to gain but a giant headache from the process) have produced documents, written at the time by eyewitnesses, which contradict the Kerry claims. And Kerry refuses to release records so comparisons can be made. Just as it is wise to be skeptical of claims of people with something to gain (like Kerry), it is also wise to conclude that when someone has documents pertinent
to their claims, but fails to release them, that person is hiding something important and damaging.

Applying your test, SWVFT should be believed over Kerry supporters' present-day 35-year-old misty memories, and Kerry's ever-changing, and ever-improving stories, especially because he refuses to release records.

The Swift Boat Vets did not necessarily know that Kerry had received medals for actions they were involved in. There was no reason for them to see the Citation until recently when Kerry used them as a credential to be President.

Also, the story told by the Kerry camp was so far removed from what happened, according to their documents created at the time of the event, they thought Kerry must have been involved in some other action. They literally did not recognize the recitations in the awards to be the same event they witnessed (example: Kerry's Silver Star Citation said he directly confronted a numerically superior enemy force, beaching his boat, went ashore, and engaged and killed the enemy on land. The eyewitnesses say Kerry did beach the boat, went ashore, backed by 20 - 30 soldiers, and killed a single wounded VC. The SBVT do not fault Kerry for shooting a wounded teenager in the back, because he was a combatant, but they do point out that Kerry did not face a numerically superior force, which is the basis for the award, and that his action certainly does not meet the standard for the Silver Star.)In addition, at least one of the Purple Hearts was awarded without the normal paperwork, according to the Vets. So it is a gross oversimplification to say you can rely on certain documents, and it is safe to ignore others.

Hell, LBJ got himself awarded a combat award (Silver Star?) for the one time he was any where near combat (as a passenger on an airplane, if I remember correctly). At least he had enough class not to use it to run for President.

I am afraid the burden of proof is on Kerry. He is the one making the assertion that his heroics in Viet Nam make him particularly qualified to be president. Now that historical documents and eyewitnesses have called this into serious question, it's his turn to prove his original assertion. Also it doesn't help Kerry's reputation for accuracy (or honesty) when the Christmas in Cambodia story has completely fallen apart, and the campaign was forced to issued a couple of "clarifications."

(5) HH made the following comment | Aug 17, 2004 7:16:51 PM | Permalink

He has also proven that Kerry has undeniably distorted his own Vietnam service on multiple occasions, no matter what you believe on the totality of his allegations.

(6) LazyMF made the following comment | Aug 17, 2004 7:46:18 PM | Permalink

J Murphy, I have heard of someone like that: A businessman who was given ownership interests in oil businesses (which he ran into the ground)and a baseball team (which he didn't really run), yet wants to be known as a darn good "bidnessman." Who could I be thinking of?

(7) Roofer made the following comment | Aug 17, 2004 9:34:07 PM | Permalink

LazyMF, like so many others, wants to discuss anything but the facts surrounding Kerry.

Read slowly, and maybe comprehension will set in: John Kerry, having no significant legislative accomplishments in his nearly two decades in the Senate, has chosen to make his Vietnam service the centerpiece of his campaign. That service is the only executive experience that he has and the primary qualification that he wishes us to use to evaluate his competence to serve as the nation's chief executive officer.

He has, in fact, invited the opposition to scrutinize his war record ("bring it on!"), and his running mate has invited us to query those who served with him about his qualifications for the presidency.

When "it" was bought on, Kerry's first response was legal threats, and he has yet to meet any factual assertions with other disputive factual assertions.

There are three basic differences between Kerry's record and Bush's. Bush never used his TANG service as the centerpiece of a political campaign. Bush has admitted making some mistakes in the past, and has, in so doing, suggested that America judge him not as the person he was but as the person he is; while Kerry is telling us that the person he is and the person he was are one and the same. And lastly, whatever Bush's failings in the oil business or in MLB may or may not have been, we are not being asked to judge him based on what he did or didn't do 10 or 20 years ago. Kerry, byu contrast, is indeed asking us to judge him on the basis of events that occurred 35 years ago.

(8) Patrick R. Sullivan made the following comment | Aug 18, 2004 8:44:40 AM | Permalink

LazyMF's claims, aside from being red herrings, aren't even true.

Bush created his own oil business at the worst time possible. The entire industry in Texas suffered thanks to Ronald Reagan's foreign policy; getting the King of Saudi Arabia to open his oil spigots to drive down prices in order to deny the Soviet Union oil revenues. That's not Bush's fault, nor the fault of the many other small oil exploration companies that went bankrupt in the 80s.

Bush's foray into baseball was a completely different thing altogether. He put together an investment team, and bid for the Texas Rangers when he heard it was available. He had to overcome the objections of the Commissioner of Baseball to his group, and he prevailed.

Bush, who was the Managing General Partner--meaning he had the unlimited liability, as opposed to the limited liability of the other partners--turned the losing franchise into a pennant contender. Eventually selling the team at a handsome profit to its current owner. By any fair standard Bush was a smashing success in the baseball "bidness".

(9) LazyMF made the following comment | Aug 18, 2004 10:27:17 AM | Permalink

There were oil companies (large and small) that made it during the time Dubya was an oilman. Dubya didn't make it; you can make all the economic and foreign policy excuses you want.

And don't get me started with your baseball analysis. Dubya owned a very small percentage of the team - very small. He was nothing more than a figurehead owner who sat in box seats and shook hands. If you think it took any diplomacy whatsoever to get the commissioner of baseball to make a decision that favored the owners, you are delusional. The commissioner will only make a decision against ownership if the ownership group is proposing public involvement. The last commish that made a decision the owners didn't like, Fay Vincent, was soon looking for a new job. The Commissioner of MLB has as much relative power as the Queen of England, and that has always been the case since Kinnesaw Mountain Landis was first appointed by the owners to dish out punishment in the "Black Sox" scandal.

The only controversial acitivity Dubya undertook as an owner of the Rangers should upset the conservatives who believe strongly in property rights. When the owners wanted to build a new stadium in Arlington they couldn't get an old lady to sell her house on the proposed building site. The Rangers responded by forming a quasi-governmental body (the Arlington Sports Authority or something) and did a public taking of her property. They paid her much less than the property was worth and booted her ass out - taught her to mess with the big boys.

Also, a fractional owner of a baseball team can take no credit for the team's on-field performance. That is the result of the general manager, the coaches and the players. The Rangers were also not really pennant contenders during his tenure anyway.

Don't get me started on the baseball. I knows my baseball.

As to the prior comment, I'm not here to defend John Kerry's military record - only to point out that all politicians use their pasts to their advantage and engage in a lot of puffery regarding their personal histories (John McCain may be an exception).

(10) Greg D made the following comment | Aug 18, 2004 5:14:56 PM | Permalink


"I'm not here to defend John Kerry's military record". Ok, well, we're here talking about Kerry's military record. So, what does this make you, someone who enters a conversation with the intent of interfering with the conversating by bringing up irrelevancies that you know have nothing to do with the discussion?

Why, that would make you a troll!

And you know what, I don't recall Bush telling us we should vote for him because he part owned the Texas Rangers, or was in the oil business. I do recall Kerry telling us we should vote for him because he was in Vietnam.

I guess you are too unsophisticated to understand that nuance between the two candidates.

(11) Beldar made the following comment | Aug 18, 2004 6:23:12 PM | Permalink

Lazy's not a troll, but an old friend of mine whose politics differ substantially from my own. Like any good debater, he'd rather argue from stronger positions than otherwise, but when caught trying to change the subject he's honest enough to acknowledge it. His comments are always civil and he's always welcome to express them here — as are others from the political left who can remain civil.

(12) LazyMF made the following comment | Aug 18, 2004 8:32:26 PM | Permalink

Dubya did run for governer and president the first time around trumpeting his business acumen and entrepreneurial spirit. During the campaign for governer, the Texas Rangers were publicly lamenting their business losses while negotiating with the players' union. At a press conference a Texas print reporter asked Dubya how he could reconcile his campaign platform as a good businessman while the Rangers were losing so much money. Dubya answered, "Those are just book losses. Cash-wise, we're going very, very well."

Ahhhh, baseball owners...gotta love 'em. But that's a whole 'nother subject and I don't want to stray off topic, do I?

(13) Norgo made the following comment | Sep 1, 2004 4:01:20 PM | Permalink

Has anybody seen O'Neill' military record? Was he even in Nam during the same time as Kerry? Are his medals totally indisputable??? He presents himself as a flag-waving boy scout. I knew vets from Nam -- drafted, not Academy brats -- who might have had a few bones to pick with this smug self-righteous spoiled p---k who sold out to Nixon and continues to sell out to the highest bidder who is now Karl Rove. Wanna bet if I tried hard enough I couldn't find somebody to smear O'Neill with 30+ year old "eye witnessing" of the events surrounding his service???

[Edited for profanity ... opposing viewpoints are welcome, but only when expressed in a nonprofane and civil fashion. — Beldar]

(14) Beldar made the following comment | Sep 1, 2004 10:56:35 PM | Permalink

Norgo, what I'd definitely bet you on — and give you excellent odds to boot — is that the Kerry campaign has been desperately seeking the kind of witnesses you're imagining. I'd bet that's been their top priority for several weeks now, and that they've had an unlimited budget for their efforts.

Results so far: zero, zip, nada. So knock yourself out, friend. Maybe you can find someone that the Kerry campaign hasn't.

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