Our nation’s veterans can breathe a sigh of relief over John Kerry’s recent decision not to mount another presidential campaign. Perhaps he finally came to the realization that America is no longer amused by his political chicanery. Perhaps Teresa, after having discovered a more lucrative financial investment, simply cut off his allowance. Or perhaps Kerry’s long-suppressed conscience finally emerged — tormenting him with pangs of quilt over his opportunistic, deceptive and narcissistic ways. I think not.
In any case, the committed folks who challenged him in 2004 did so at significant risk and personal sacrifice. Fortunately, they can now "stand down," comforted by the fruits of their labor.
As we look toward the future, we should all stand steadfast against the use of phony war records and libelous testimony against our nation’s most cherished resource — the brave men and women of our Armed Forces. We must demand that this type of deception is never again employed as the basis of a political platform. As a nation, we should also strive to do a far better job of vetting our candidates, rebuking those who employ the "win by any means" mentality so prevalent in today’s political arena.
As for Kerry, it’s not too late for him to apologize for bearing false witness against his brothers in arms. In his libelous testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the Senator chose to tarnish the image of an entire generation of courageous servicemen. Despicably, Kerry, ever the opportunist, did so for his own political gain. Our Vietnam veterans, who served with dignity and honor, were forced to carry the stain of Kerry’s lies for the next three decades.
One such apology was well-received when Steve Pitkin asked to be forgiven by thousands of veterans at the "Kerry Lied" rally — a 2004 event sponsored by Vietnam Vets for the Truth (VVT) in Washington. Steve admitted to libeling his fellow servicemen by providing false testimony at the "Winter Soldier Investigations." The 1971 Detroit gathering was sponsored by John Kerry and his infamous organization "Vietnam Veterans Against the War." At the time, Mr. Pitkin acquiesced to mounting pressure from Kerry to provide a first-hand account of heinous war crimes occurring in Vietnam — fictional events of which he had no personal knowledge. Steve’s teary-eyed apology was followed by an emotional embrace from hundreds of Vietnam veterans in attendance who cheered: "Welcome home brother."
Kerry’s 2004 campaign fell victim to a number of things including major offensives launched by credible 527s, like "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" and "VVT." In the end, however, it was the senator’s inability to discern truth from fiction coupled with a shameful past that orchestrated his timely demise.
Let John Kerry’s failure to realize his lifelong presidential ambitions serve as a staunch reminder to disingenuous politicians everywhere and especially to those who proclaim they would not be confronted by those who defend the truth, true patriots refuse to allow political aspirants to hide behind embellished stories and lies.
Mr. Epstein previously directed media relations for Vietnam Vets for the Truth.