John Kerry’s Cambodia fantasy

By Joseph Farah

For more than 30 years, John Kerry has been telling a lie about his experiences in Vietnam.

The lie has only two purposes – increasing his own self-importance and condemning his own country’s policies in Southeast Asia in the 1960s.

By now, most people have heard Kerry’s fable about being in Cambodia during Christmas 1968. In the most celebrated telling of this story before the U.S. Senate in 1986, Kerry said:

I remember Christmas of 1968 sitting on a gunboat in Cambodia. I remember what it was like to be shot at by Vietnamese and Khmer Rouge and Cambodians, and have the president of the United States telling the American people that I was not there; the troops were not in Cambodia. I have that memory which is seared – seared – in me.

Kerry and his presidential campaign have been forced to back down from this lie for obvious reasons:

  • not one crew member – even the few who now support Kerry for president – back Kerry’s contention that he or his swiftboat ever ventured into Cambodia;

  • the president in 1968 was Lyndon Baines Johnson, a Democrat, who has never been accused of sending troops to Cambodia and certainly never denied it;

  • Kerry’s whereabouts on Christmas 1968 are not a matter of dispute;

Now Kerry’s campaign says he just got his dates wrong – that this memory that was “seared – seared” in him, was about another time, perhaps a month later when Richard Nixon entered the White House.

Of course, the lies continue. Richard Nixon did not send troops into Cambodia in his first 10 days in office. He sent them more than a year later. Kerry was out of Vietnam before the end of March 1969. Yet, through his lying, morally bankrupt surrogates, he continues to insist he actually was ordered into Cambodia and carried out illegal military missions.

In an earlier version of this lie, written in Kerry’s own hand and published in the Boston Herald in 1979, in the context of a review of Francis Ford Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now,” he offered even more embellishment.

On more than one occasion, I like Martin Sheen in “Apocalypse Now,” took my patrol boat into Cambodia. In fact, I remember spending Christmas Eve of 1968 five miles across the Cambodia border being shot at by our South Vietnamese allies who were drunk and celebrating Christmas. The absurdity of almost being killed by our own allies in a country in which President Nixon claimed there were no American troops was very real.

Let’s count the lies in this written statement:

  • Kerry says he made this trip “on more than one occasion.” Now we are to believe that this was a regular practice by Kerry and his crew, none of whom share any such memory.

  • The already discredited “Christmas in Cambodia” claim was being made already in 1979 – perhaps being floated for later use in the U.S. Senate.

  • Kerry impugns our Christian South Vietnamese allies by suggesting they were drunk and attacking U.S. troops.

  • He suggests in this version that he was nearly killed in Cambodia.

  • He repeats the lie that Richard Nixon was president at this time – a true absurdity.

Why am I making so much of this lie repeated by Kerry over the years?

Because I think it is very revealing of the man’s basic character.

He has no respect for the truth. He lies when there is no reason to lie. He makes up stories out of whole cloth for his own personal aggrandizement and to score cheap political points against his adversaries.

Remember, Kerry wasn’t speaking extemporaneously. He thought about this statement and wrote it down for publication. Similarly, he made another statement before his colleagues in the U.S. Senate.

I worry about people who play so fast and loose with the truth. I would never consider entrusting power to someone who so misrepresents the facts. With a track record of distortions like that, I would never take seriously anything the man says.

Why should we believe what Kerry says about the future when he can’t be trusted to represent the past accurately?