Talking Points: Who Am I to Judge?

The Talking Points memo this evening is about anger, outrage, and entitlement.

The war crime questions surrounding former Senator Bob Kerrey are bringing out some powerful emotions and anger at the press is at the top of the list. Kerrey himself has said that the press is attacking him and this country, his words thereby fueling an explosive situation.

After hearing our report, Master Sergeant John Anderson, who lives in Spartanburg, South Carolina, writes:

"Bill, as a Vietnam veteran, you let me down. You practically called Mr. Kerrey a murderer. What are your qualifications to judge him? Where were you in 1969?"

Well, let's walk through this, sergeant. First, the argument that you can't evaluate a situation because you did not experience it is bogus and dangerous. That's the same tired drumbeat that substance abusers, violent criminals and others in dubious circumstances use all the time. You don't understand because you haven't lived it, so how can you hold me accountable? I'm sure you see the fallacy in that.

The truth is that all Americans are supposed to be held accountable for their actions, no matter what those actions are. Second, even though it's not relevant to my reporting on this issue, I saw plenty of nasty war stuff in South and Central America, including civilian massacres. I am qualified and trained to evaluate information, and that's why The Factor is successful. I've been to Vietnam, and I've studied the situation there in depth.

Third, I came nowhere near calling Senator Kerrey a murderer. In fact, I'm sympathetic to him. If he and his squad returned fire and civilians died, that is within the bounds of war. If he lined up civilians, however, and killed them, something he denies, then he's guilty.

As I said last night, right now if I were on a Kerrey jury, I'd acquit him. It is disserving, sergeant, that you and some other military people are angry that story is even being reported. It is certainly newsworthy, and the truth should be known.

No American has a right to indiscriminate behavior, not Bill Clinton, not Jesse Jackson, not Vietnam veterans. If you do something wrong, the system has a right to call you on it. All clear-thinking Americans know that the brave people who served in Vietnam were shafted by the powerful. There is simply no excuse for Lyndon Johnson and the Pentagon's conduct during that war. They put mostly working-class Americans at huge risk and would not protect them with the full power of America's war machine. That was criminal in my opinion.

At this point, I'm going to defend Bob Kerrey and his squad because I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. But if the senator and his guys did line up women and children and kill them, that is a far, far different story.

That's the Memo.

Most Ridiculous Item of the Day

The ridiculous item involves the McDonald's restaurant chain in Europe.

They have attached some little cafes to some McDonald's buildings. That's because under their socialist systems over there in Europe, many Europeans have plenty of time to smell the latte and sip and chat the day away.

But now McDonald's is bringing the cafe concept to Chicago, so you can get a mocha decaf with your fries in the Windy City. Can't you just see that old Ronald munching on a scone? Could be ridiculous.

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