Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Hyman AWOL From Both the Truth and Decency

In his most recent “Point,” Mark Hyman continues his harangue about John Kerry’s war record, but stoops to a new low: accusing Kerry of committing the moral equivalent of a cold blooded murder.

You’d think the U.S. Navy would know better than to award a Silver Star for an atrocity, but according to Hyman, they don’t. Hyman recounts the events that led to Kerry’s award, but does so with carefully added, and unsupported, details that completely alter the nature of Kerry’s actions.

<>The basic story is that Kerry’s boat was under heavy fire when Kerry ordered the boat to attack the portion of the shoreline from where the fire was coming. A VC with a grenade launcher was running back behind cover to get a shot at the boat. Kerry followed on foot and killed the individual before he could destroy the boat.

In Hyman’s hands, however, the story is much darker. The VC was wounded and “leaving the field of battle” when Kerry shot him in the back. Hyman says there are witnesses to back up this version of events, but he doesn’t name any. That’s because there aren’t any. Hyman simply assumes that no one will bother looking into the facts, and believe that if he says there are witnesses who question Kerry’s version of events, there must actually be such people. Hyman also produces an “exclusive” Navy report that he claims proves his version of events. It doesn’t. It says that Kerry chased the VC and shot him “while he fled,” but it makes no mention of where the individual was fleeing to. In fact, those at the scene say that the man, who was so lightly wounded that he was still running, was finding cover a reasonable distance away so that he could fire a grenade at the beached Swiftboat. The consensus is that Kerry saved both the boat and his crew from destruction.

But don’t take “The Counterpoint’s” word on any of this. We actually have backup, unlike Hyman. First, you might want to take a look at what the folks at Snopes.com the urban legend site, say about the fictions that have been created about this incident and others Kerry was involved in. Their conclusion: folks like Hyman are in the same category as those who think we didn’t actually land on the Moon. The stories are false.

Hyman says there are “witnesses,” but doesn’t say who they are. Maybe that’s because the one person who was in a position to actually see the entire event backs up Kerry’s account exactly. Take a look at Kerry's shipmate's account of the action written for the Chicago Tribune and decide for yourself whether or not he seems more credible than Hyman and his phantom witnesses.

Maybe you feel that Mr. Rood is too personally connected to Kerry to be objective. Fine. Take a look at independent investigations that compare Kerry’s actual military service with the revisionist fables concocted by folks like Hyman and others who are motivated by political animus rather than by any concern for the truth. The independent Factcheck.org refutes the Kerry bashers, as well as does an investigation by the Washington Post.

Let’s pause for a minute and really think about what Hyman is saying. This isn’t simply a charge that Kerry exaggerated his exploits to win medals. Hyman claims that Kerry is a sadist who killed someone simply because he could. To listen to Hyman and his ilk, Kerry was at the same time a privileged snob who exaggerated his exploits because he didn’t have what it took to be an actual combat leader, but also a bloodthirsty monster who would jump off his boat during an ambush and run unaccompanied after a wounded man who posed no threat just for the joy of slaughtering him. Even as a work of fiction, these tales don’t pass muster because of their utter inconsistency.

For good measure, Hyman throws in the epithet “Massachusetts liberal” to describe Kerry, although it has nothing to do with the content of the commentary, and says that one might expect someone to brag about killing a wounded man if he was also the sort of person who would “attack the very country” he was supposed to be defending, referring to Kerry’s testimony in Congress on the conditions in Vietnam.

Of course, if you actually read Kerry’s testimony, you see immediately that he was defending his fellow soldiers as victims of a dehumanizing system. You also see someone who, in his 20s, thought more deeply and spoke more eloquently about matters of consequence than our current commander in chief can today.

Speaking of Mr. Bush, we know all too well what he was doing while Kerry was serving his country: avoiding even the modest commitments he had made to the Air National Guard, getting preferential treatment, ducking mandatory physicals, abusing various substances, and having his abysmal service records sugarcoated through political influence.

As we’ve said many times before, all this nattering on about what medals Kerry deserved, how much he bled, or exactly how far short Bush was in meeting his Guard duties is beside the point. Kerry served; Bush didn’t. Period. So why do Hyman and other Bush lovers continue to harp on a losing battle?

First, although Bush’s record will never equal Kerry’s, they figure if they simply throw mud at Kerry, maybe Bush’s self-given “war president” moniker will carry the day.

Second, as long as the media and the electorate talk about Vietnam, Purple Hearts, and what type fonts were and weren’t available in 1972, no one will ask questions about Bush’s record as president, which is even more embarrassing than his pathetic service record. No jobs. Poisoned environment. Squandered opportunities for international cooperation. Lack of attention to real terrorist threats. No WMDs. Assault weapons back on the street. Uninsured Americans on the rise. And more than 1000 Americans dead and 7000 Americans wounded in a preemptive war with no exit strategy in sight.

It’s important to drive a stake through the heart of liars like Hyman, but let’s not forget to keep asking the real questions that matter. Because, no matter how many whoppers these folks tell, they do it because they can’t defend the reality of the last three and a half years.

And that’s The Counterpoint.


At 9:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One question: Did Mark Hyman serve in the U. S, military at all? I'd like to see him put his "money" where his mouth is and join our military by fighting in Iraq. I'd venture to say he would grow up in a hurry and quit acting like a spoiled bully on the playground who is all talk and no show.

At 10:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just found your blog, and want to say "Thank You". I have watched as Sinclair Broadcasting has devistated my local station, WLOS TV 13 in Asheville NC. TV 13 is essentially the only source for local news here in the mountains, and I have to watch it... but you can always see the obvoius bias since Sinclair took over. But Mark Hyman just takes it over the top. I have written several letters of complaint both to the local station and to the Sinclair group, but as you can imagine, no response. I was afraid I was the only one who noticed such obvious partisanship, but today I found your blog. Thanks for making me feel like I'm alone in a sea of conservative lies.


Jeff Onamotapoe - Penland NC


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