Who are you going to believe?

Wesley Pruden:

" Look, Charlie, who are you gonna believe, John Kerry or your own eyes?

"The great white Democratic hope set out early yesterday to clear up the 33-year-old question of what did he do with his medals from Vietnam and when did he do it?

"Monsieur Kerry has told several stories so many times no mere pol could remember them all. First, he said he threw away his medals. Or maybe the Silver Star and three Purple Hearts belonged to somebody else. Then it was no, they weren't combat medals, anyway, just combat ribbons. That's what he told the Los Angeles Times last week. But bad luck: ABC News discovered the tape of an interview in 1971 in which the young monsieur said no, it was medals after all, not ribbons.


"And so it went. Monsieur Kerry and his handlers are frightened that the medals episode could be taking another Massachusetts pol for a ride in a tank. Most Americans, who regard combat medals awarded for valor as more than pieces of cast metal and strips of colorful cloth, as something, like the flag, to hold in awe and reverence because such objects have been endowed with blood spent on battlegrounds at Lexington and Concord, on hillsides from Manassas to Pea Ridge, on killing grounds in the Argonne Forest and at Guadalcanal and Pork Chop Hill and the Ia Drang Valley and a lot of other places besides. Americans will regard the distinction between a combat medal and a combat ribbon as the ultimate distinction without a difference. Both medal and ribbon are fraught with holy meaning, and the man who treats them as trash, throwing them back at the country that bestowed them as tokens of gratitude and thanksgiving, is a man whose soul has withered to a dried prune. (Would Monsieur Kerry disdain the Legion d'Honneur?)

"Democrats disdain every question that John Kerry raises about his Vietnam War record as a slur at the senator's patriotism. Republicans have actually taken great care to give the senator credit for taking up arms when certain prominent Republicans went over the hill. Marc Racicot, the chairman of the Bush campaign, remarked Sunday that 'from the very first [we] talked about the fact that John Kerry serviced this country honorably.'

"This was an odd slip, Freudian or otherwise, for a Montana man to make. Every rancher knows that 'servicing' is what a bull does for a heifer. Or maybe it wasn't a slip at all."

In the Democrat's world, they want care what he threw back. Republicans will hold it against him whether it was ribbons or medals. But journalist do not like to be lied to, and that could be a real problem for Kerry.


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