When John Kerry was caught lying—by my investigative news article in last Monday's Washington Times—for repeatedly claiming that he had met with the “entire Security Council” in October 2002, it fit a disturbing pattern: The Democratic candidate for president is a serial self-aggrandizer.
The prevarications often have a seed of truth—though sometimes probably not even that—which are then dressed up to an extraordinary degree in order to make him seem more heroic, more important, more presidential and, sometimes, more human.
He is a politician, of course, and tall tales are often no taller than on the stump. But with Kerry, it’s different. The lies are so varied and so frequent that telling them appears to rise to the level of character flaw, perhaps bordering on pathological.
This from a man who has made honesty and integrity cornerstones of his campaign.
The latest lie—latest discovered, anyway—had to do with Kerry’s numerous assertions, as recently as the second debate, that he had met with “all of” the members of the UN Security Council. On at least five occasions, Kerry said he had met with the entire 15-member panel.
Considering that only three times since 1952 the entire committee had convened outside chambers, it would have been unprecedented for a single senator—especially one who in October 2002 was a relative unknown outside Massachusetts—to get them to do so for the fourth time in 52 years.
Why would he lie about something that could be checked so easily? Calling the UN mission for every country then on the Security Council, the UN press office, and eventually five ambassadors who were on the panel, it was not difficult to determine that Kerry came nowhere close to meeting all 15 members. Even the French ambassador contradicted Kerry. (Fox News has since reported that Kerry met only representatives of four countries, which my reporting confirmed included France, the city-state of Singapore and the former French colony of Cameroon.)
The only logical explanation is that Kerry believed he would not get caught. And the only way he could have thought that is if he fibs frequently—with impunity. Once the first batch of lies is swallowed whole by a fawning media and a supportive or apathetic public, then the next round flows more freely.
From his early days as an anti-war leader through his long service in far-left Massachusetts, Kerry has been a darling of the fourth estate and largely avoided tough campaigns. (For those who point to his 1996 race against then-Gov. William Weld, it was a genteel affair, and the challenger foolishly agreed to spending caps.)
From January 31 to February 2, 1971, John Kerry helped spearhead the Winder Soldier investigation in Detroit, a media bonanza where some 100 veterans testified that they had witnessed or committed some of the worst atrocities imaginable: genital mutilation, gang rape and intentional slaughtering of innocent civilians en masse.
Congress was spurred to action. John Kerry was an instant celebrity. But much of it was fake. Made up. When an anti-war senator, Mark Hatfield of Oregon, tried to investigate the monstrous stories, he was stonewalled. Kerry’s group, Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW), told its members to refuse cooperation.
Government inspectors, however, were able to determine that many of the names given by those who testified were names of actual soldiers—but the speakers gathered by Kerry were imposters. In other words, the real soldiers had their good names tarnished. That this could happen at an event in which Kerry was intimately involved means the man who would be leader of the free world was at worst complicit, at best, reckless.
Yet he never got in trouble for something that should have ended his career.
Nor did he get caught—not until years later, at any rate—when he threw someone else’s medals over the wall at a massive anti-war rally. He wanted the glory of the moment, but not at the price of parting with his precious medals.
Perversely, Kerry was eager at that time to brand himself a war criminal—including on Meet the Press, no less—all as part of a concerted effort to heighten his profile. Without ever disavowing his boasts of evildoing, he has nonetheless ignored them in recent years.
Maybe Kerry made some questionable calls in Vietnam, but by any account, he was not a war criminal. Yet he wanted to be one—and it worked to garner him national attention.
Kerry has had other memorable whoppers, including one in 1986 and another relating to 1986. This August, Kerry was forced to backtrack from something he said on the floor of the Senate 18 years ago, that he was in Cambodia on December 24 and 25, 1968. Though he said it was “a memory which is seared—seared—in me,” it wasn’t true. He wasn’t in Cambodia on Christmas in 1968, no matter how seared it was in his memory.
Though not entirely clear, it at least seems possible that Kerry was in Cambodia or right on the border at some point—just not Christmas 1968. Without those details, however, the story loses much of its drama—and power.
The tale as told made him more important and more authoritative on the subject of that day—Reagan administration funding of freedom fighters in Latin America.
Sometimes Kerry’s yarns seem almost silly, such as the fib relating to 1986. As covered in the Weekly Standard recently, it seems that, despite claims to the contrary, Kerry was not 30 yards from Bill Buckner’s famous missed ground ball in the 10th inning of game 6, when the Boston Red Sox almost won its first World Series since 1918.
According to a contemporaneous Boston Globe report, Kerry was at a political banquet that night in Boston—a couple hundred miles from New York’s Shea Stadium. This was before he bagged a billionaire, meaning he didn’t have his own private jet to make such rapid transportation possible.
Why lie about something like that? It turns out he was at Game 7 of that series—a game nobody remembers. So he concocts something that draws considerably more attention.
Sometimes he spins stories to cast himself as Just Another Normal Guy. Enough has already been written about it (see Howie Carr’s column or the American Spectator), but Kerry’s hunting tales exist in the realm of the incredible—aside from the discomforting thought of the French-speaking boarding school product carrying a shotgun.
Or this likely lie from an interview with ESPN: “I was screaming at the television set when Grady did not pull Pedro out.” (Referring to Game 7 of last year’s American League Championship Series when Boston Red Sox manager famously left in starter Pedro Martinez.) Maybe this is the truth, but common sense argues otherwise. Kerry can no more scream at the television about a baseball game than Teresa can move her face.
Any of these lies alone would mean little. But taken together, the campaign issues raised continually by Kerry—trust and integrity—are seen in a whole different light. Can Kerry be trusted? The short answer seems to be no.
Seen in historical context, Kerry’s Security Council fabrication was clearly designed to make himself appear more presidential and more equipped to handle foreign diplomacy. It was deceitful, but more importantly, it was deliberate.
Although Kerry’s legion of lemmings—i.e., the mainstream media and left-wing bloggers (such as DailyKos)—rushed to his defense, his own campaign did not. They backtracked as soon as they knew that I knew the truth.
In other words, the people who know Kerry best are so used to his lies by now that this time they capitulated before the story even ran.