Adam Nagourney, NY Times:
The fierce back and forth over John Kerry's Vietnam War record may seem an odd storm to break out during the summer lull before the Republican convention. But it goes to the heart of his challenge to President Bush, and its resolution may prove pivotal in determining Mr. Kerry's hopes of victory this fall.Actually I do not think most Republicans think that Kerry's Vietnam service makes him a powerful opponent. Kerry lost the value of that service when he came backed and trashed his band of brothers and then went on to a career of being on the wrong side of national security issues for over 30 years.
If there is one thing that Republicans and Democrats agree on, it is that Mr. Kerry's record as a decorated Vietnam veteran makes him a powerful opponent to Mr. Bush in a presidential campaign being conducted against a backdrop of terrorism and international turmoil. The television advertisements and a book challenging Mr. Kerry's account of his injuries and war medals this month seek to destroy what has been the central argument for his candidacy since he entered the race nearly two years ago.
When Kerry trashed his band of brothers in 1971, he probably thought that his side would always prevail and he did not have to worry that those he trashed might someday return the favor when he was running for president. Now, he is full circle trashing them again. His filing of a lawsuit against them may be one of the biggest mistakes he and the Dems have ever made. The Swiftvets are led by a very good trial lawyer named John O'Neill. Kerry and the Dems think that they may be able to use discovery to find some coordination betweent he Swiftvets and the Bush campaign. They will not find any, but in the meantime they have thrown Brer Rabbit in the briar patch and Kerry has opened himself up to be deposed about all the fantasies he has told about his excellent adventure in Vietnam and Cambodia. He is in trouble.