Kerry me back, once more once

As Paul noted earlier this week, the Senate confirmed John Kerry as Secretary of State Today by a vote of 94-3. Many have noted the record of Kerry’s opinions in American foreign policy is distinguished by its devotion to mischief, error and misjudgment. To take only one small example, Jay Nordlinger documented Kerry’s wayward ways on Latin America in the 2004 National Review article “Back in Sandinista days…,” kindly made accessible online by our friends at NR. Please check it out.

I noted in December when Kerry’s name was floated for the position he has now assumed (and I ask you to forgive me for repeating myself) I vividly recall seeing Kerry speak at Dartmouth in the lounge on the second floor of Hopkins Center — “the top of the Hop” — during his entry into public life as a spokesman for Vietnam Veterans against the War. It was in the spring of 1971 just after his notorious appearance before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in April.

I had read about Kerry’s testimony in the New York Times. At Dartmouth I heard him repeat his infamous statement that our soldiers had “personally [sic] raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephone to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war, and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country.” The Boston Globe placed Kerry’s testimony in the context of his career in part 3 of its excellent 2003 biographical series.

Kerry repeated these incredible allegations in his appearance at Dartmouth. They were part of his stump speech for Vietnam Veterans Against the War. I was a sophomoric antiwar student who had turned out to hear the new antiwar celebrity. I believed him. I bought it all. Why not? He’d served in Vietnam and held himself out as speaking from his personal experience. I was a fool, of course, but Kerry cynically exploited my own ignorance and that of many others like me.

Kerry’s appearance before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee with its absurd allegations formed the basis of his subsequent career in politics. This is a guy who knows how to seize the main chance, whatever the cost. Kerry’s glide path to the prominent office he now holds is astounding to me. It shouldn’t be, given how close he came to winning the presidency despite his past, but having seen him in action at the time with my own eyes, it is.

UPDATE: I meant to note that Howie Carr sticks to Kerry’s recent effusions to compile a list of his greatest hits.

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