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Please, Don’t Spoil the Ending

My favorite book is The Pet Goat
It’s the best that has been wrote. . . .
I have read it on a boat,
I read it while New York was smote . . . .
I think you that will like this book
Go ahead now, take a look!

Deborah Frisch

From time to time every commentator finds a need to introduce an element of objectivity into what is otherwise a biased column. Herewith I take Republicans and Democrats alike to task.

It surprises all but those bereft of brains that supporters of a president who had lots of unexplained absences from duty during theVietnam war, would run ads attacking the service of a decorated war hero. In a TV ad, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth are doing just that. They are accusing John Kerry of lying about his Vietnam War record. The sponsors of the ad say that Mr. Kerry “is no war hero” and “lied to get his bronze star.” The ad opens with men themselves lying saying they served with John Kerry since none of them did. They make no mention of Mr. Bush’s dereliction of duty.

One of their strongest supporters and weakest links is Lt. Cmdr. George Elliott, retired. During Mr. Kerry’s senatorial reelection campaign in 1996 Mr. Elliott said that: “The fact that he chased an armed enemy down is something not to be looked down upon, but it was an act of courage.” That statement was consistent with Mr. Elliott’s recommendation during the war that Mr. Kerry receive a Silver Star for his conduct. Between 1996 and 2004 Mr. Elliott had a change of heart. In 2004 he signed an affidavit in which he said that Mr. Kerry did not deserve a Silver Star. Then Mr. Elliott had another change of heart. On August 6 he was quoted in the Boston Globe saying that: “It was a terrible mistake probably for me to sign the affidavit with those words. I’m the one in trouble here.” That story appeared in the morning. By afternoon Mr. Elliott had changed his mind yet again and questioned whether Mr. Kerry deserved his medals. He issued another affidavit in which he again said Mr. Kerry has “not been honest about what happened in Vietnam.”

This ad does not include the usual statement by Mr. Bush that he is who he is and approves what is said. It nonetheless has the tacit approval of the White House. After Senator John McCain attacked the ad saying: “I think the Bush campaign should specifically condemn the ad,” the White House declined to do so. At a press briefing on August 5, White House press secretary Scott McClellan was asked if the Bush campaign would repudiate the ad. Not understanding the question Mr. McClellan said: “The president deplores all the unregulated soft money activity.”

As I said at the outset, this is a balanced column. I have a criticism of John Kerry as well. I think it is entirely inappropriate for him to poke fun at George Bush for his conduct after being told of the attack on the second World Trade Center Tower on 9/11. When informed of that event Mr. Bush was in Mrs. Daniels’ classroom in the Emma E. Booker Elementary School listening to the tale of “The Pet Goat.” This is a fascinating story about a girl who got a pet goat with which she liked to go running. The goat, however, angered the girl’s father, because it “ate pans and panes. . . . capes and caps. . . . The father told the girl that the goat would have to leave the family because of that habit but the girl promised her father she’d make the goat stop doing those things. Then a robber came and tried to steal the family car and the goat ran to the car and butted the robber thus foiling the attempted theft. The father was so pleased that he said “That goat can stay with us. And he can eat all the cans and canes and caps and capes he wants.” The story concludes: “The girl smiled. Her goat smiled. But the car robber did not smile. He said, ‘I am sore.'”

I do not know at what point in the story Mr. Bush was told of the events in New York. Once informed, however, there was nothing George Bush could do about it and George was no doubt curious to learn how the goat story ended. By remaining in the classroom for seven minutes after being notified of the attack, he did nothing that jeopardized anyone’s safety. And he didn’t have to spend the rest of the day being distracted wondering how the pet goat story ended. He could, instead, focus on the day’s other events which did not have happy endings.

CHRISTOPHER BRAUCHLI is a Boulder, Colorado lawyer. His column appears weekly in the Daily Camera. He can be reached at: brauchli.56@post.harvard.edu

 

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