Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Man of the Year, 1971 and 2004

John O'Neill

Man of the Year 1971 and 2004 Posted by Hello

John O'Neill deserves the honor of SwanBlog Man of the Year for his activities in 1971 and 2004. He is the first two-time winner of the award. The following is an imaginary Christmas letter from the O'Neill family. It is written in the third person, as most of these letters are.

Imaginary Christmas Letter from John O'Neill's Family

Merry Christmas from the O'Neill family. It has been quite a year for us. Anne underwent a successful kidney transplant early this year at Houston Methodist Hospital. She quickly recovered enough to be released from the hospital, and she continues to recover.

The source of the kidney transplant was John. It is rare that a husband is a suitable donor for a wife. John was willing to make the sacrifice, despite the pain and the risks. The recovery for John was longer than for Anne. Anne actually visited John in the hospital during his three-week stay.

While in intensive care, John saw Senator John Kerry working his way through the primaries for the presidential nomination. This was reminiscent of an event more than 30 years ago, where John was in a VA hospital bed watching Kerry on television, as Kerry was acting as a leader in the anti-war movement.

In 1971, John was inspired to become active with Vietnam Veterans for a Just Peace, to counter what he saw as exaggerations or outright lies about Americans who had served in Vietnam. He actually debated Kerry on the Dick Cavett Show.

Upon his return from Vietnam, John enrolled in the University of Texas Law School, graduating first in his class. John describes himself as the "Rip Van Winkle of Politics" because he largely faded from public view after his encounter with Kerry on the Dick Cavett Show. John became a successful attorney in Houston and rejected the occasional overture from Kerry opponents to campaign against Kerry during his runs for the U.S. Senate.

Despite the risk from the kidney transplant surgery, John wrote and published a book about Kerry's Vietnam service. "Unfit for Command" sold more than 900,000 copies, despite attempts by the Kerry campaign to suppress it. Similarly, the Kerry campaign were unable to stop television ads by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, which John helped to organize.

There were several attempts to discredit John and the other Swift Boat Veterans. John is a Texas Democrat, which is not the same as a Massachusetts Democrat, but that did not stop some people from trying to paint John as a Bush campaign operative. After months of pro-Kerry advertisement from independent "527" committees, independent expenditures suddenly became scandalous when Swift Boat Veterans for Truth began airing television ads.

The most pathetic attempt to discredit John was on the ABC News Nightline program. After ignoring the Swift Boat Vets, they sent a camera crew to Vietnam to verify the challenged claim of Kerry heroism that resulted in his Silver Star. Using a local guide and GPS technology to interpret the Navy after action reports (which were made without a local guide or GPS technology), they located what they thought was the village where the fire fight took place. Under the watchful eye of a government minder, the local villagers told the camera crew exactly what they were supposed to -- the individual killed was not a teenager in a loincloth, but a brave warrior, etc. After 35 years, it is unclear that they had the correct village, that the memories were correct and unbiased, or that they were even talking about the same fire fight.

The attempt by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth to restore the honor of those who fought in Vietnam has been described as the last mission of the Vietnam War. The family is happy to welcome John home from this mission.

All in all, an eventful year for the O'Neill family. Happy New Year.


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