Saturday, December 30, 2006

Senator Kerry's Office Speaks

Even though I'm still getting emails about this from self-described Liberal bloggers, this will be absolutely my last comment on this.

In response to perhaps the silliest dust-up in the history of the Iraq conflict, Senator John Kerry's foreign policy aide released a statement regarding the brouhaha I inadvertently started. In the interest of fairness, I will let Frank Lowenstein speak for himself:

“It’s a weird feeling seeing this photo of Sen. Kerry debated and decoded like some artifact out of the DaVinci Codes. It’s strange to me because I was there when the photo was taken. I traveled with Sen. Kerry throughout his Middle East trip. I’m his foreign policy staffer. Myself and Major McKnight were sitting
right there when this photo was snapped.
Snubbed? Alone? Hardly. Sen. Kerry isn’t eating alone. In fact that photo is at an off the record breakfast meeting Senator Kerry conducted early Sunday morning with the very real Marc Santora of the New York Times Baghdad bureau and his younger colleague from the newspaper. The man shown in the green shirt across from Sen. Kerry is Marc Santora. Right after that interview was completed, Senator Kerry videotaped a message expressing his and the country’s support for the troops, to be shown on the armed services network in Iraq. Just the night before, Sen. Kerry was in that very same mess hall at a table where he ate dinner with about 10 U.S. soldiers.
Additionally, Senator Kerry spent nearly a day and half (out of two days in
Iraq) outside of the Green Zone because he felt strongly that he wanted to hear
from troops on the front lines. On Saturday morning, he greeted U.S. soldiers in
Basra, and also met many British troops while he was there. On Saturday
afternoon, he flew to FOB (Forward Operating Base) Warhorse, where he had a town hall meeting with over 100 soldiers. On Sunday morning, he was briefed by U.S.
commanders at a training camp for Iraqi security forces. On Sunday evening, he
traveled to another FOB where he had a long dinner in the camp mess hall with
soldiers, including many from Massachusetts. These troops are nothing short of
amazing, and my boss knows that with every fiber of his being. He’s a combat
veteran. He’s been there.
Sen. Kerry knows that if you’re in public life, you’re going to have things you say and do taken out of context, sometimes photos even. It goes with the job. I just wanted to set the record straight about this photo not just because I was there and I know the truth, but because Sen. Kerry enjoyed his time and his conversations with the troops, and I hate to see anyone try to make some political hay out of all this or pretend this photo is something its not.”

He's correct that it is strange to be endlessly debating this, especially since nothing in Lowenstein's statement contradicts anything I said in my original post, which was also nowhere near as partisan as some paranoids seem bent on making it out to be. (Did these people actually even bother to read what I wrote in that or in previous posts?)

I respect every politician for coming out here, Senator Kerry included, regardless of any disagreement I may have with their views on the war. (In Senator Kerry's case these disagreements are numerous, but that is beside the point). At the same time, there were an unusually large number of stories circulating here about commanders either not wanting Senator Kerry to visit their units, or of soldiers wanting some small measure of payback for the pre-election joke. I personally saw him receiving far less attention or adulation in the same setting than typically received by other politicians and celebrities of his stature.

I never said he was alone at breakfast (something the Liberal blogs started to claim after they conceded that I hadn't faked the picture), nor did I claim that the Senator was unable to meet with any soldiers anywhere while in Iraq.

In other words, Frank Lowenstein and I are telling the same story from two different perspectives, based upon two different sets of facts that overlap for a brief ten minute window. It is amazing that nobody has considered the possibility that we could both be right, that Senator Kerry received an unenthusiastic reception from some troops, but was well-received by some soldiers elsewhere.

In the end, this is, and has always been, a trivial issue, especially while there are real heroes out there making sacrifices everyday to defend our nation. Thank G-d we live in the digital age, as I hate to think how many trees would have been needlessly killed to keep this non-controversy alive 20 years ago.

And with that I'm done on this issue.