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Boortz, the Anti-American

Rightwing radio jock's lies about Kerry hit a new low, even for him

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"The truth really needs to be told about John Kerry's Purple Hearts. A case can be made that he's a coward." - Neal Boortz, Feb. 17, 2004.

The above quote from Neal Boortz, an Atlanta radio talk show host who is broadcast locally on WBT, is a new low, even for the group Al Franken calls "the lying liars.

"Here is "the truth" about the war record of that "coward": After he graduated from Yale University in 1966, John Kerry joined the Navy. His classmates had selected him to give an early speech against the Vietnam War. But once in the military, he volunteered to command "Swift boats," the Apocalypse Now-style craft known for the ambushes they faced as they sped up and down South Vietnam's rivers.

On Feb. 28, 1969, while Lt. Kerry and his crew were running interference for a landing party downstream, a rocket blew out their boat's windows. He told the pilot to steer toward the spot from where the rocket had been launched.

As they approached the shore, Kerry's crew saw a Viet Cong soldier aiming his launcher at them. But before the boat hit the bank, the soldier ran away. The future senator leapt out to chase him about 30 yards through the mangroves. The enemy had just turned and was once again set to fire a rocket when Kerry shot him dead.

Kerry was awarded a Silver Star for his role in that engagement and several others on the same day. In his citation, Vice Adm. Elmo R. Zumwalt Jr. noted that "the extraordinary daring and personal courage of Lieutenant (junior grade) Kerry in attacking a numerically superior force in the face of intense fire were responsible for the highly successful mission."

Two weeks later, mines damaged Kerry's boat and two other Swifts in the Bay Hap River. Kerry's arm was injured. The boats were drawing snipers' bullets. As Kerry steered the boat toward a more damaged vessel, a member of his crew noticed that a Green Beret from another boat had been thrown overboard. The soldier was being peppered with enemy fire a few hundred yards behind them. Kerry turned his craft toward him.

"The man in the water was receiving sniper fire from both banks," Zumwalt wrote in a separate citation for the Bronze Star with Combat V that Kerry earned that day. "Lieutenant (junior grade) Kerry directed his gunners to provide suppressing fire, while from an exposed position on the bow, his arm bleeding and in pain and with disregard for his personal safety, he pulled the man aboard."

Back on the home front, Neal Boortz began his talk-radio show Tuesday, Feb. 17, by questioning Kerry's courage. He hinted that later on he'd substantiate his insinuations. I listened as Boortz strung the tease out for about 30 minutes. But he had no substance.

Boortz's point turned out to be that Purple Hearts are awarded for relatively minor wounds. Perhaps, he speculated, Kerry purposely got injured to take advantage of the practice that three-time Purple Heart winners got to go home.

"He received three wounds, and he was in and out of Vietnam in four months," Boortz noted. "They were all minor wounds."

A week later, Boortz's website made the same point, describing Kerry's Purple Hearts as "flesh wounds" for which he wrote his own commendations -- while George W. Bush "earned exemplary ratings" as an Air Guard pilot.

Neither on the show (at least while I listened) nor on his website did Boortz mention Kerry's rather "exemplary" Silver Star or the Bronze Star with Combat V. Then again, I didn't hear Boortz boast of his own stellar war record. Today, he's an avid skier and airline pilot. But during the Vietnam War, he skirted the draft on account of what he now says was asthma.

Boortz's hypocrisy reaches into the realm of absurdity. But the scary thing is that it has become impossible to keep up with the malicious misstatements, i.e., lies of the Boortzes, Limbaughs and Hannitys who have come to dominate AM "news" radio. Beware if you listen to their poisonous propaganda. Such scoundrels deserve our contempt.

I have a theory about Boortz's critique of Kerry's war record.

Recently, Boortz falsely claimed there were Communist ties to a liberal website called MoveOn.org. He apparently was embellishing the already ludicrous claim of a Texas wacko that a Communist site's Web link to MoveOn.org constituted some sort of official tie between the two organizations.

Now, however, the Communist Party site (cpusa.org) is linking to Boortz's site. And, suddenly, his upside-down world makes sense. No wonder he sat out the Vietnam War! No wonder he's dissing the Purple Heart winners who shed their blood in his place!

After all these years of claiming to be a Libertarian, Boortz -- by his own logic -- is coming out as a Communist. And that makes as much sense as anything you'd hear on his show.

Ken Edelstein is editor of Creative Loafing in Atlanta.

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