Skip To Content

Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness

The ninth commandment of the Ten Commandments declares, in no uncertain terms: “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbors.”

We mention this sacred script from the Bible at this time because of its pertinent relevance to one of the nastiest confrontations in the many mean-minded moments in the long history of American political mudslinging. We refer, of course, to the head-on collision between Senator John Kerry and his one-time comrades in the Vietnam War. Once a tight little band of dedicated warriors, they are now engaged in a fierce internecine fight. What happened?

Kerry’s buddies felt that he had betrayed their common cause when he joined the Vietnam Veterans Against the War. Kerry was not the only staunch supporter of the war (he volunteered) who came to feel that our involvement in the civil war in Vietnam was a mighty mistake. Members of the Johnson cabinet and his top advisers also did a regretful about-face. John Roche, Johnson’s number-one adviser, whispered to me on one occasion that “this is the right war in the wrong place.” He thought it was right because it was an effort to “contain” the spread of communism. But in trying to intervene in a civil war in distant Vietnam we had bitten off more than we could chew. Finally we had to upchuck the indigestible mess.

Some of Kerry’s comrades — not all — looked upon him as a Judas who had betrayed Jesus. They set out to get him when he was nominated as the Democratic candidate for president. They said that he had put on a brave show in the service, not out of patriotism but to get medals and citations to make him look good when he ran for public office. They even went so far as to suggest that he wounded himself as part of the same scheming strategy. They may have felt, too, that he turned against the war because he was planning to run for office in the liberal-minded state of Massachusetts. They turned the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth into a weapon to destroy Kerry.

On their own, this handful of Kerry-killers probably would have gone unnoticed. But they did not go it on their own; they had mighty moneyed backers who would turn their laughable obsession into a massive media movement. Their underwriters are multi-millionaires who are old buddies of the Bushes. Texas is their mutual home base. They are buying and playing the media to a fare-thee-well.

Will they give Bush the extra push to make him the winner in November? They might. It was Mark Twain who said: “A lie can travel halfway round the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”

So, just what is the truth? There is, in reality, only one being who knows the truth, the whole truth. He is omniscient. And He keeps a piercing and punitive eye on those who violate His commandments. So if Kerry says: “To hell with them,” he is very likely to see his wish fulfilled.


Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.