Some Liberals Still Trying to Rescue Christmas in Cambodia
Unfortunately, they don't seem to have done the homework
.Do you also, Dear Reader, remember all the challenges to Kerry's claim? As I remember it, there were three basic challenges:
1. None of Kerry's shipmates would confirm his tale
2. The United States was not in Cambodia
3. Kerry's campaign later conceded that his memory was "faulty" on this account
Today we learn that one of these three 'facts' is actually incorrect. Documents from the Nixon White House released yesterday show that in fact, there were U.S. forces in Cambodia, that President Nixon knew it, that the president issued a carte blanche concerning Cambodia, and finally that he engaged in a deliberate effort to cover up the activites of the U.S. in Cambodia.
First, obviously when the Kerry campaign acknowledged Kerry's "faulty memory", the challenge was over. The second item on the list is simply a canard; it was well-known that the United States was in Cambodia by mid-1970 and that Nixon had lied about that issue. And anyway, as our buddy RiverRat notes in the comments, Nixon was not the president as of Christmas 1968 anyway.
The key item in that list is the first one. Remember, all but one (Stephen Gardner) of Kerry's crews supported Kerry's run for president. Douglas Brinkley, who talked to all those shipmates, did not include Kerry's Christmas in Cambodia tale. Was the Kerry campaign retracting his statements about Cambodia becuase they couldn't be independently verified? One can imagine the dilemma that his Cambodia assertions would present to the 2004 campaign, and the calculus used to make a decision: on the one hand, without some outside verification, opponents could have easily turned the entire election into a fight over whether or not Kerry's statements were true, a fight the Kerry camp would have lost. On the other hand, a retraction would have a much smaller political cost, and do less damage to the campaign. The Kerry camp seemed to have initially used exactly this caculus in dealing with the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, until it became clear that a policy of ignoring the attacks was going to backfire. It is not difficult to imagine why others would be reluctant to speak up about official U.S. secrets.
This is pretty easy. The Kerry campaign acknowledge Kerry's "faulty memory" because they were caught. The members of Kerry's Swift Boat crews, while supporting his run for president, were unwilling to lie for him.