August 6, 2004
The Jigsaw ManBy Thomas Lifson
Is it a mistake for opponents of John. F. Kerry to question his Viet Nam service? Dick Morris thinks it is, on the ground that you don't attack the opposition's strength. Others, like Senator John McCain, Bill O'Reilly and much of the establishment media, think it is slimy and self—discrediting to attack a medal—winning veteran. Even Presidential Press Secretary Scott McClellan publicly lamented the activities of all independent expenditure '527 groups,' the vast bulk of which, funded by the likes of George Soros, back Kerry.
But most of the American public is still trying to grasp the essence of the man, John F. Kerry. Despite a long career in the Senate and the week—long Boston convention infomercial, vast numbers of folks lack a settled gut—feel apprehension of the man who seeks to lead us in perilous times, and whose televised presence will enter our households on a regular basis, should he win.
When getting to know somebody new who could influence our fate, most of us construct a kind of jigsaw puzzle, observing his behavior in different situations, learning about the person's past, meeting close friends and relatives, and picking up all the little signs of character, from facial expression and posture to sense of humor.
With less than 3 months until Election Day, enough pieces of the Kerry jigsaw puzzle are on the table to provide a frame for the picture, the essential step in ordering all the other fragments. Kerry's self—chosen frame is Viet Nam. There are two potential arrangements of the straight—edged pieces. One sort of looks like a hero. The other way looks like a phony.
As any puzzle—solver knows, you have to test the two possible frame configurations with the curvy—edged pieces. Take a good look at them. Pay special attention to those clusters of a few curvy pieces that already fit together, and see if you can integrate them into one of the frames.
Cluster #1: family background
He grew up all over, and never really put down roots in any single place. His father was a diplomat, an occupation Kerry publicly described as a 'public employee.' A rich Great Aunt paid for boarding school in Switzerland, and later at St. Paul's, one of the most prestigious prep schools in New England. Nobody who knew him in his childhood has stepped forward to endorse him, and it has been reported that he had virtually no friends at St. Paul's.
For many years, Kerry was content to sit silently when others in the Boston political and media world identified him as Irish. He attended St. Patrick's Day events in South Boston regularly, further enhancing the false impression of his ethnic roots.
Cluster #2: religion
Cluster #3: his spouse
Wife number one has withdrawn from public view, and is unavailable for comment. Wife number two seems to love the spotlight, and enjoys telling the pubic what she thinks. She also repeatedly withdraws or recoils in public from physical gestures of affection from her husband, and refers to herself using her dead husband's name, adopting Kerry only as her 'political name.'
Cluster #4: his home
Cluster #5: military service
"I didn't really want to get involved in the war," Kerry said in a little—noticed contribution to a book of Vietnam reminiscences published in 1986. "When I signed up for the swift boats, they had very little to do with the war. They were engaged in coastal patrolling and that's what I thought I was going to be doing."
After receiving three Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star, and a Silver Star, Kerry applied for and was allowed early exit from the combat theater, serving as an aide to an admiral. He then applied for and received an early release from his full service obligation to the Navy.
Cluster#6: professional career
Ran for Congress after establishing a residence in a targeted district. Defeated. Went to work as a public prosecutor, and ran for Lieutenant Governor, winning, and serving with Michael Dukakis, who was not invited to speak at the Boston Convention, despite having been a former nominee of the Democratic Party meeting in his home town.
Interestingly enough, Kerry just this week in Davenport, Iowa spoke of his career as a small businessman. He and a friend started a cookie store in Boston's Faneuil Hall Market. But this, too, is controversial. The founder of the David's Cookies chain claims that Kerry stole the plans for the store from him:
'Some guy who called me up was John Kerry, in '79 or '80,' Liederman recalled. 'He said he wanted to come down and talk to me about franchising. He came to the office and said he had an incredible space in Boston, which was Faneuil Hall. He said he needed some plans and some layouts and all sorts of things to get the approval of the landlord.'
'So I gave him the layout, the package, and he went back and I didn't hear from him for six or seven months.'
Then one day Liederman got a call from someone who said they'd seen one of his stores in Faneuil Hall. Not having a store in Boston, Liederman decided to have a look for himself.
'It was a direct, 100—percent knock off of David's Cookies,' said Liederman, from the appliances to the shop's design to the cookies themselves. 'If you had walked into a David's Cookie's store in Manhattan at the same time he opened 'John's Cookies' in Boston, you couldn't tell the difference.'
The coming months will provide enough new pieces and clusters to determine for a large majority of the undecided which framework fits best: hero or phony. As the facts are reported, the American people will decide.