The Nossiter Net
The net that shall enmesh them all
Edited, Written, and Published by J.C. Nossiter
The Morning Mendacity
Wednesday, August 25th, 2004
The Nossiter Net is cast  to snare some of  the riper rascalities of the day.  Comments?  editor@nossiter.net
Radarman Second Class James R. Wasser of Illinois was under John Kerry’s command when he skippered PCF-44 in the Mekong Delta in late ’68 and ’69.  According to Douglas Brinkley’s Tour of Duty:  John Kerry and the Vietnam War (William Morrow, 2004), Wasser was an exceptionally gung-ho Navy Petty Officer whose favorite diversion was blasting away at the Viet Cong with his .50-caliber guns.  As a trainee in Coronado, he earned beer money by eating cockroaches off the walls of the enlisted men’s club on bets.  He prided himself on his toughness, physical fitness, and aggressiveness.  He also learned to speak Vietnamese.

Bored with the relatively cushy naval base at Cam Ranh, he volunteered for Swift boat duty in one of the most dangerous place in Vietnam, An Thoi, where the veteran joined Lt. Kerry’s boat.  Here’s what Radarman Wasser told Mr. Brinkley about his skipper, John Kerry:  “I didn’t like his later antiwar attitude.  But I’m talking straight:  he always put his men’s welfare first, and was tough, tough, tough.  He was a great leader.  Plus he served his time in-country and fought for the right to have his opinion.”

The other four members of PCF-44’s crew were also tough, veteran sailors.  Like Radarman Wasser, their backgrounds were very different from Lt. Kerry’s, whose recent graduation from Yale was the culmination of a lifetime of foreign travel and expensive boarding schools.  And yet Boatswain’s Mate Drew Whitlow tells Mr. Brinkley, “Being a simple country boy, I at first worried about Kerry.  I remember thinking here was a northern type who was going to get us into trouble.  But he was the best.”

An anecdote recounted by Radarman Wasser and quoted by Douglas Brinkley tells you all  you need to know about how a group of seasoned combat veterans from humble backgrounds felt about their blue-blood leader.  Mr. Wasser describes how their boat hit a sandbar and couldn’t get off.  Rather than send a distress call to base, which might have gotten their skipper in trouble for misreading the charts, PCF-44’s crew elected to wait a few hours, potential sitting ducks for a VC attack, until the tide rose high enough to lift them free.

Douglas Brinkley is the Director of the Eisenhower Center for American Studies at the University of New Orleans.  His book, a gripping and fascinating read,  is a necessary antidote to the poisonous lies about Mr. Kerry’s war record now being circulated by the Bush-backer funded “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.”

The Afternoon Affront

The Washington Post reports on Tuesday that a second Bush re-election campaign worker, lawyer Benjamin Ginsberg, is working for the “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.”  Mr. Bush continues to maintain, meanwhile, that he has nothing to do with the continuing smear campaign against Mr. Kerry.  The San Francisco Chronicle on Wednesday notes that precisely the same tactics, using an opponent’s strengths against him by distorting the record with smears, were employed by Bush campaigns against Anne Richards and John McCain.  What a coincidence.
©J.C. Nossiter 2004
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