Meaningful Distinction:

Patrick S. Lasswell Look outward for something to accomplish, not inward for something to despise.
pslblog at gmail dot com
Saturday, August 21, 2004
Kerry's Ugly Divorce

One of the things the culture of the US Navy gets right more often than not is relationships between people on the same crew. The bond between shipmates is not dissimilar to a functional family, when it works. This is not about being a band of brothers; this is about being able to endure living with the same people through months of isolation, privation, and hardship, where each person has to do their part so that everybody survives. Water will find the weak point, so everybody on a boat has to keep the faith. Some of the time this just doesn't work, but most of the time things work as well as most arranged marriages. You have to spend a lot of time with these people; you might as well make the best of it. Even when things go badly, you stick with your shipmate and try to make things right.

Finding out a shipmate has been badmouthing you behind your back is one of the most chilling things you can ever feel. Finding out that they've been badmouthing you to strangers is difficult to describe. The closest I can come up with is the kind of sick emptiness that is common in ugly divorces. (Something else time in the Navy gives you exposure to.) Imagine having your spouse accuse you of child abuse in a divorce. To have a shipmate badmouth you for personal advantage is worse. The spouse making abuse accusations just to get the house, the car, AND support is the closest I can approximate. Finding out that somebody who you shared your life with is destroying your honor for transitory personal gain casts a pall on your future relationships and your understanding of personal ambition. It rips you up where you live, and a lot more when you really worked to maintain your honor.

John Kerry testified to the Senate in 1971 that his shipmates committed atrocities on a regular basis, and he did this to get his name in the papers. He sold out his crew, his fellow commanders, and everybody else who served in Vietnam so that he could be important in politics. Now he says that he wants to report for duty again and that his service in Vietnam was the proof of his integrity. From a sailor's perspective, this is like the slandering spouse pointing to the marriage as proof of their commitment to relationships.

This is not about partisan political process. This is about the consequences of an ugly divorce. What goes around comes around. The Swiftboat Veterans for the Truth are willing to discuss this up front and in the open. This is not about partisan political advantage, this is about making things right.
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