John Kerry, former Massachusetts Senator and present Secretary of State, 2013, was shipped off to Vietnam during the 1960s to fight a war he discovered he did not really believe in and could not continue to support.
Those were the days when both rich and poor Americans risked, though not equally, being drafted for war. Those from powerful and privileged family backgrounds always found ways to successfully dodge the draft. Some sought asylum in Canada.
But Kerry was born a hero. And Kerry fought valiantly and won many commendations and medals for bravery, heroism and distinguished service.
And then Kerry came home to America. And he threw himself body and soul into the storm that was raging throughout America at that time against the inadvisability and unjustness of America’s war against the Vietnamese nation.
Kerry threw away his medals, joined protest marches and sit-ins and gave powerful eye-witness testimony before Congress against the cruelty and depravity of that war.
For, as I have stated wherever I could, war generally means two things: killing and getting killed. Everything else is merely fodder to the same forest fire of death and destruction.
The Vietnam War with its Agent Orange, napalm burns, saturation or carpet bombings, B52s and civilian killings was fast spinning out of control on practically every front.
Kerry emerged an even greater hero as a peace activist than he was as a Vietnam warrior. Then Kerry entered politics and did well, representing the great state of Massachusetts in the United States Senate.
And then Kerry ran for president. But before Kerry could even count to three, right-wing politicians and paid propagandists made political mincemeat of Kerry through their mendacious but meticulously architectured television ads.
They were ready and waiting for him when Kerry arrived on the scene.
The ambush was as preposterous and incredible as it was brilliant and overwhelming. And it totally and utterly destroyed Kerry as a candidate – and left him flapping and fluttering in the wind like the sail on the surfboard on which anti-Kerry strategists and message-design experts showed him spinning in circles.
Kerry lost – rather sadly I should add. A good and noble man, no doubt, with a brilliant and brave past, Kerry fell victim to the machinations of unscrupulous politicians, propaganda strategists and media and ad specialists.
But all this was still in the order of things. Kerry, while he may have been guilty of presiding over a feeble and foolish presidential campaign that sputtered and lost, could still hold his head high. He fought nobly, though weakly, and lost to better but more ruthless and artful political minds and media strategists.
And there was no shame in that.
Being foolish is a unique privilege generously shared by the bulk of humanity. Often, the only question is when and how the streak will strike.
But then history had a greater test in store for this great American hero: John Kerry. It conferred upon him the great office of Secretary of State of the United States of America, an office that he craved passionately and embraced enthusiastically.
But then, soon enough, history also landed a powerful left hook to Kerry’s political jaw. It unleashed on him the criminal coup d’état by Egyptian military against Egypt’s civilian government – against the first democratically and freely elected civilian government in all of Egyptian history.
Those who had obliterated his presidential bid using brilliant but false Swift-Boat Ad attacks could hold no candle to what fate itself had in store for Kerry this time. Now it was Kerry’s moral fiber that was at stake, his manhood if you will – and America’s soul.
And Kerry himself was in charge of his fate this time. He could make or break himself – by the decisions he made, the positions he took and the words he uttered.
As Secretary of State of the most powerful nation on earth, Kerry had a global bully pulpit available to him, next only to President Obama.
And Kerry fell to the ground with a thud the world could hear – mortally wounded and bleeding torrentially.
Kerry could not muster up an Eisenhower-style act of greatness, when, in 1956, almost single-handedly the former military man, just like Kerry himself was a military man, had successfully leveraged America’s might and moral stature, to reverse the fruits of the invasion and occupation of Egypt by a joint Israeli, British and French force.
Whether it was lack of spine or moral fiber or whether it was a failure to come to grips with the demands of true and courageous patriotism, Kerry could not bring himself to condemn the criminal coup d’état by the Egyptian Military Junta. He could not even clear his political throat enough to call a coup a coup.
Instead, Kerry busied himself trying to plaster the political and moral nakedness of Egypt’s criminal coup makers with all kinds of see-through fig leaves and contorted excuses, lies and rationalizations.
In a bizarre twist, and to Kerry’s eternal shame, unless Kerry himself articulated this charade somehow, it fell to the lot of that most unlikely dynamic dual political anticists of Senators John McCain and Lindsay Graham to go to Egypt and call what happened there what it really was, by its rightful name: a military coup in every conceivable sense of that expression.
Like a lost, confused and wounded sheep, that had been severed mauled by a pack of hyenas, Kerry bleated out something about Egyptian military’s overthrow of a democratically elected civilian government being an attempt at “restoring democracy in Egypt.”
That was a low moment for America, and not just for American diplomacy. Within the blink of an eye, Kerry went from being a hero, in both war and peace, to being a loser, a coward, a liar and a moral dwarf.
Kerry let America down.
Why Kerry did and said what he did, history will investigate down the years. With what results, I do not know. But the fact that Kerry let America down, and not just himself, with such a great big and shameful thud, and in doing so betrayed some of America’s greatest moments and proudest traditions, history will never forgive.
Fate had given Kerry a shot at greatness – both for himself and for America, in some very difficult times – but Kerry failed to rise to the occasion. He blew it.
History will record Kerry as a moral and political pygmy.
And a loser. A fate Kerry chose for himself.