But monkeys…

I can overlook your politics but…

Yes, that’s true, But . . . .!

How many times have you heard those words? It is a common form of rebuttal. The rebutter acknowledges the opposition point of view and simply disregards it. It’s a disingenious way to duck the requirement of a direct answer. The tactic has value only with the weak minded or those who are not really interested in an thorough examination of the issues.

Laura Ingraham, host of the Laura Ingraham Radio Show has termed the people who use this technique, “But Monkeys“. A more apt description is hard to find. I would expect the “But Monkey” tactic from local politicians, rabble rousers, political hacks, and malcontents. I would never expect a presidential candidate to use it. However, John Kerry has promoted the Ya But dodge to an aggressive form of attack in an article he authored in the “Washington Post” titled, A Realistic Path in Iraq. In it he uses the ‘But Monkey’ dodge at least five times. More depending on how you count buts. The opening topic sentences of his presentation sets the tone:

Like most Americans, I want to believe that this past week's events -- the transfer of sovereignty and the appearance of Saddam Hussein before an Iraqi court -- will place us on the road to success. But, there is still no sign of a strategy that will get us there.

Senator Kerry’s response to events makes no sense whatsoever. In fact, one can make an argument that his response is self contradictory. Is the success to date in Iraq an accident? Was the establishment of a sovereign authority in Iraq not part of the plan?

Farther into Senator Kerry’s article he says:

Our military performed brilliantly in the war's first mission: ending the regime of Saddam Hussein. And all Americans share President Bush's desire for Iraqis to live with the blessings of democracy and security. But we are a practical people, and we know that all the rhetoric we've heard hasn't been accompanied by a realistic plan to win the peace and bring our troops home.

While it is refreshing to hear Senator Kerry speak with 20/20 hindsight, his view of the future is still as fraught with pessimism as ever. Before the military action in Iraq and Afghanistan, the liberal cry was woe and doom. Liberals warned of all kinds of catastrophic scenarios. Here are just a few:

  • Thousands would come home in body bags.
  • Humanitarian disaster of epic proportions.
  • Another eco-disaster if Sadam sabotaged the oil fields again.
  • Vietnam style quagmire.

Yes, we are a practical people. We put a man on the moon and eradicated small pox. So the first question I would ask the Senator is to define what he means by winning the peace. Is the goal to establish regional security and promote America’s future security or is it to bring our troops home as soon as possible? And once the Senator defines his goals, maybe he could give us ‘his‘ plan to accomplish them.

Senator Kerry has more good examples of the “But Monkey” tactic. Regretfully, space does not allow me to examine them in detail. Instead, I will jump to Kerry’s conclusion. It’s a doozy!

Success in Iraq must be separated from our politics. It is too important to our troops who are serving there and to the security of our nation. I hope President Bush will fashion policies that will succeed. But today we are not pursuing the most effective path. It is only by pursuing a realistic path to democracy in Iraq that we can connect our ideals with American common sense.

If I were part of the Kerry campaign staff, I would be embarrassed. Maybe the Senator “has” been inhaling! Can you imagine being the Secretary of State and getting a Presidential directive stating he/she wants you to formulate a foreign policy that lays out a a realistic path to democracy that connects our ideals with American common sense? If you can, I’d love to hear your reply. Maybe that sort of thinking is the product of Swiss finishing schools and a Yale degree in politics. I’m not sure. I am sure, however, that Senator Kerry has a history of interjecting himself into foreign policy when it suits his purpose. He learned early, while guiding the “Vietnam Veterans Against the War”, that opposing the president was an easy way to get free media attention. In addition to marching in protest, Senator Kerry traveled to Paris to negotiate a separate peace agreement with the representatives of the Viet Cong. He referenced that trip in his testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Later, as a Senator, he traveled to Nicaragua to support Daniel Noriega in opposition to President Reagan.

Senator Kerry’s presidential campaign strategy is obvious. When running against an incumbent, one must either have a very good alternative or persuade the public that the incumbent’s policies are so bad that anything would be better. In 1980 Ronald Reagan had both. Today, Senator Kerry has neither. Therefore we can expect much, much more of the same empty rhetoric Senator Kerry displays in his Washington Post article. We can expect the Kerry campaign to dodge any question that demands substance. We can expect him to disregard the facts of any successes of the Bush Administration and Ya but his way to some negative prophecy of gloomy pessimism.

But, But, But!!

The Public View


Was he wearing his own decorations?

Are these really Kerry’s medals?

I looked at the picture of John Kerry, posted above, testifying before Senate Foreign Relations Committee. What struck me was that a naval officer would appear in working fatigues and looking so dowdy. It also upset me that he wore his service ribbons with fatigues. I’m not surprised that he was marked down on his fitness reports for military bearing.

After looking at his ribbons, it struck me that they didn’t match his time in Vietnam. He also had an inordinate number of personal ribbons based on just four months of service in a war zone. I decided to check them out. I found the two links below that give the names and pictures of service ribbons awarded by the US military:

Military service medals link
Order of precedence link

The military does not give away awards easily, so there aren’t that many to have to review. From those two lists and comparing it to the photo above, I was able to build the following replica of what John Kerry was wearing at the time. Due to the quality of the photo, I could not determine two of the ribbons shown.

From photo of Senator Kerry while testifying before Congress, 1971


Starting at the top and proceeding left to right, these ribbons are:


  • The Silver Star
  • The Bonze Star with combat ‘V’


  • Unidentified
  • Combat Action Ribbon
  • Presidential Unit Citation


  • Unidentified
  • National Defense Ribbon
  • Republic of Vietnam Campaign Service Medal

Fourth Row

  • Rifle Expert Ribbon
  • Pistol Expert Ribbon
  • Republic of Vietnam Campaign Ribbon

According to information available online, Senator Kerry’s service timeline is as follow:

Military service, 1966-1970

  • Feb 1966; Enlisted in US Navy.
  • June 1966 (approx);Graduated from Yale.
  • Dec 1967; assigned to the guided-missile frigate USS Gridley.
  • May 1968 (approx); Assigned to swift boat training, San Diego, Ca.
  • Jun 1968; Promoted to Ltjg (0-2).
  • 17 November 1968; Kerry arrived in Vietnam and assumed command of Patrol Boat Fast ‘Swift Boat’ #44.
  • 2 December 1968; wounded (first Purple Heart).
  • 20 February 1969; Wounded (Second Purple Heart)
  • 28 February 1969; Kerry earned his Silver Star.
  • 13 March 1969; wounded (3rd Purple Heart) also earned Bronze Star.
  • 17 March 1969; requested relief under a rule, which allowed recipients of three Purple Hearts to be reassigned to a non-combat duty.
  • April 1969; reassigned as a personal aide and flag lieutenant to Rear Admiral Walter F. Schlech, Jr, Brookly, NY.
  • 3 January 1970; Honorably dischargedPartial list of references:
    The Atlantic Monthly | December 2003
    Snopes Urban Legends
    John Kerry’s Service Record

If I have correctly identified the ribbons he wore while in front of the Senate, and if the information regarding his military service is also correct, I can safely say he is wearing at least two decorations he did not earn. But the most glaring inconsistency is the absence of his purple heart with two stars. The two stars would indicate his second and third award of that ribbon. The ribbon is shown below (without stars):

You can clearly see it in the photo above on the right. It is dark with two stars. Here is a cut out image of that image:

The next inconsistency is the Presidential Unit Citation (PUC). The PUC is given to a unit and not an individual. To wear it, the individual must have been part of the unit when the citation was earned. Task force 117 was awarded the PUC for action against the enemy from 25 Jan 1969 to 5 Jul 1969. See:

PUC for Task Force 117

This action occurred while Senator Kerry was stationed in Vietnam, but there is no evidence he was assigned to that unit or those operations. Anyone who has access to the military records of that time can see which units were involved and designated in the citation. It will be easy to cross check those units with Senator Kerry’s service record.

The third inconsistency is the Republic of Vietnam Service Medal. In the photo, Senator Kerry is showing this ribbon with two stars. Having served in Vietnam, he is entitled to the ribbon, but it is impossible for him to have earned two stars in such a short time (Dec 68 – Mar 69). A star is earned for each of the 17 designated campaigns specified by the military. One has to be in Vietnam and involved in those campaigns. Please see: RVN service medal, or Army Pers Command, awards. He would have had to serve in Vietnam for more than a year to earn multiple awards for this medal.

Wearing of ribbons; order of precedence. Ribbons have a designated seniority, with the Medal of Honor being the most senior and the expert pistol the least. The most senior medal an individual earns is placed closest to center line of the uniform. The next senior medal is placed next to it moving away from the center line. So, looking at Senator Kerry’s placement, the seniority flows from the top left to bottom right. By the way, the entire bottom row is reversed. The RVN Campaign Medal should be on the left side (nearest the center line) with the rifle expert and pistol expert ribbons following.

What can be determined about the unidentified ribbons: The first unidentified medal, according to the position in Senator Kerry’s display, falls between the bronze star and combat action ribbon. If you look at the Order of Precedence, US Navy, the following ribbons, according to their seniority, fall into that category:

  • Purple Heart
  • Defense Meritorious Service Medal
  • Meritorious Service Medal
  • Air Medal
  • Joint Service Commendation Medal
  • Navy/Marine Corps Commendation Medal
  • Joint Service Achievement Medal
  • Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medal

The Purple Heart would be the logical choice since he earned it. But the ribbon displayed is multi-colored where the PH is a solid purple with only two white band on each end.

Using that same logic for the second unidentified ribbon, none of the potential ribbons fits. It is a solid colored ribbon and looks very much like the Purple Heart. But that would be out of order. The next most similar ribbon is the “Good Conduct Ribbon”. But that award is for enlisted members only.

Based on the above discussion, I feel confident that at least two awards (multiple awards for the RVN Service Medal and the first unidentified ribbon) are not his. It is highly probable that the PUC and the second unidentified ribbon are not his either. Further, it is incredible that a junior officer with no prior combat experience could accumulate that many awards in approximately 120 days. It places him in the company of such earlier warriors as Alvin York and Audy Murphy. Regardless, even if those ribbons turn out to be his own, his sloppy appearance and the flaunting of his awards in such a slipshod manner is conduct unbecoming a Naval Officer. He proved himself a discredit to his service and is an embarrassment to those of us who served. We refused to surrender to political pressure or sell our service for political gain. No matter how “honorably” he might have served in the Navy, he neutralized that honor, or more, with his smear of veterans before the Senate.

The Public View

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