August 25, 2004

Media Matters for John Kerry's Election (PT 2)
Posted by Jon Henke

Media Matters--previously caught red-handed calling a win for Gore by citing research that actually concluded Bush would have won Florida--weighs in on the matter of Kerry's Purple Heart, and once again they leave out relevant information....

Echoing a widely discredited allegation by the anti-Kerry group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, Roll Call executive editor Morton M. Kondracke ... falsely claimed ... that Senator John Kerry ... did not properly earn his third Purple Heart, awarded for an injury sustained during a combat incident on March 13, 1969.

The truth is that Kondracke is ignorant of the relevant requirements for awarding a Purple Heart. Annenberg Public Policy Center's Political Fact Check pointed out that the buttock wound alone -- which Kerry sustained while blowing up a cache of rice that was a source of food for the Viet Cong -- would have qualified Kerry for a Purple Heart, even without the arm injury Kerry subsequently sustained in full-fledged combat later that day. A "friendly fire" injury can qualify for a Purple Heart "as long as the 'friendly' projectile or agent was released with the full intent of inflicting damage or destroying enemy troops or equipment," according to the website of the Military Order of the Purple Heart.

To their credit, they did cite a credible authority on Purple Heart regulations. To their discredit, they didn't cite all of it. The Military Order of the Purple Heart also includes this requirement for the Purple Heart...
(5) Examples of injuries or wounds which clearly do not qualify for award of the Purple Heart are as follows:
[...]
(h) Self-inflicted wounds, except when in the heat of battle, and not involving gross negligence.
Now, one might credibly make the argument that Kerry was not negligent in standing within the blast radius of his own grenade.....or, one might make the argument that it was negligent. There's room for debate.

But Media Matters called Kondrake's allegation "false" and Kondrake "ignorant of the relevant requirements for awarding a Purple Heart".

That's just wrong. It is not, however, surprising that Media Matters would make such a tendentious argument.

UPDATE: DMan points out that the wound did not occur "in the heat of battle"--as the regs seem to require, per my reading--which may call an end to the whole debate on whether the "rice grenade" could even be considered for a Purple Heart.

If "heat of battle" is a prerequisite--and exploding rice doesn't count as "enemy fire"--Kerry and Rassmann's attack on the pile of rice would not seem to qualify. ("Sir, the enemy attacked with far more than my daily allowance of starch!")

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Comments

It does not matter whether it was gross negligence or not as it was not in the heat of battle.

Posted by: Dman at August 25, 2004 09:20 AM

Don't laugh at rice. Those carbs will kill ya. ;)

Posted by: capt joe at August 25, 2004 11:25 AM

The best formulation I've seen so far goes like this: Close your eyes and imagine John F. Kerry, sporting a band-aid on his arm and holding out the sliver of shrapnel from his own M-79 grenade [purple heart no, 1], telling George S. Patton, "I want a purple heart." Same thing for no. 3, with the grains of rice in the butt and the bruised arm from hitting the pilot house when the mine went off (or the Swift hit a log or sandbar). "Sir, I want a purple heart for this." The image is a delicious one.

Posted by: PBRMan at August 25, 2004 11:27 AM

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