It all depends on what your definition of “we” is

The spin continues, this time on a new front. John Kerry’s first Purple Heart award has run afoul of Kerry’s own wartime diary, and his campaign is dodging furiously. The point being examined: whether or not there was any enemy fire when Kerry was hurt.

A journal entry Mr. Kerry wrote Dec. 11, however, raises questions about what really happened nine days earlier.
“A cocky feeling of invincibility accompanied us up the Long Tau shipping channel because we hadn’t been shot at yet, and Americans at war who haven’t been shot at are allowed to be cocky,” wrote Mr. Kerry, according the book “Tour of Duty” by friendly biographer Douglas Brinkley.

A Kerry campaign official, speaking on background, told The Washington Times yesterday that the “we” in the passage from Mr. Kerry’s journal refers to “the crew on Kerry’s first swift boat, operating as a crew” rather than Mr. Kerry himself.
“John Kerry didn’t yet have his own boat or crew on December 2,” according to the aide. “Other members of the crew had been in Vietnam for some time and had been shot at and Kerry knew that at the time. However, the crew had not yet been fired on while they served together on PCF 44 under Lieutenant Kerry.”
[emphasis added]

Here we go again, this time parsing the definition of “we.” A few days ago, it was “served together.” Not so many years ago, we had to argue over the definition of “is.”
Kerry’s own words demolish this weak attempt at spin. The “we” Kerry refers to is that group composed of “Americans at war who haven’t been shot at”, not “any rearranged group of Americans who’ve never been in that particular crew yet.”
I’m willing to bet that the guys who were assigned to the boat when Kerry took over had been in-country long enough to be fired upon by the enemy. If we’re to believe the spin, then new guy Kerry had already been shot at, and the others in the crew had likely been shot at before, but because they’d been rearranged into a brand-new crew that hadn’t yet been fired upon “as a crew”, their blissfully ignorant cockiness suddenly returned. Did they suddenly forget being fired upon “as other crews”? I’ve never heard of Transfer-Induced Amnesia before.
I suppose every time somebody in Kerry’s crew rotated home or was temporarily replaced by someone else, the whole crew must have experienced a cockiness renaissance. Hey, here’s a simple solution to any morale problem in combat: take two guys from adjacent boats and switch ’em. Instant cockiness!

Mr. Kerry’s campaign could not say definitively whether he did receive enemy fire that day.

We’re going to watch this Kerry Story make a big smoking crater this week. You’re running out of tall tales, Senator. Either release your records or admit your lies.

UPDATE: Captain’s Quarters picks at the story from a different angle, wondering who was the OinC of the Boston Whaler back on December 2nd.
UPDATE 2: Another of Kerry’s boatmates (who “served together” with Kerry on this mission, even if we use Kerry’s definition) is breaking his silence on the matter of Kerry’s first Purple Heart and whether there was any enemy fire involved. Word is, Kerry’s not going to like this.
UPDATE 3: The boatmate is Admiral William Schachte, who is not a member of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. His statement will devastate Kerry.

One comment

  1. deadscot

    This parsing of words has gotten ridiculous but I don’t believe this is one of those cases.
    While serving in the Gulf I had a Captain say almost these very same words to me. He was formerly a tank commander until his tank was hit while he was outside of hit, killing three crewmen.
    Later that same year we were traveling around in an armored vehicle, pretty cocky and he made the comment that we weren’t ‘fire-tested’ yet and one night at chow he told another officer that she (our vehicle) was a virgin, having never been fired on.