Diana West

Really? As an article in The Washington Times points out, Mr. Kerry's reaction to the attacks of Sept. 11 wasn't exactly the stuff of the Minutemen. Mr. Kerry told "Larry King Live" that on the morning of Sept. 11 nearly three years ago, he "sat stunned and unable to think for more than 30 minutes in the Capitol until he and other senators were whisked out of the building to safety," the Times reports. "By that time, Mr. Bush already had addressed the nation, vowed to capture those responsible and begun discussions with Vice President Dick Cheney and other top aides about whether to shoot down any civilian aircraft violating the administration's order that all planes be grounded." And finished reading "My Pet Goat."

This, of course, is getting ridiculous -- and I don't just mean the non-issue over the first minutes after the World Trade Center attack. The real question is, why does Mr. Kerry keep erecting so many wobbly pedestals for himself? Whether it's a silly vow of insta-action belied by his behavior; a Christmas in Cambodia that wasn't really Christmas and likely wasn't Cambodia; widely, seriously contested military claims of both heroics and atrocities; or talk of a "secret" plan to save Iraq; the man increasingly sounds like he is all bluster.

Mr. Kerry's Brahmin braggadocio on the "Goat" minutes may seem to be a small thing, hardly a matter on which presidential elections turn. But in a campaign based solely on the candidate's "biography," it is one more telling detail in an evolving character study that the Kerry campaign, given the probing charges raised by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and the pressing, new journalism of the blogosphere, is no longer sole author of.

As even Democrats admits, there is little in the Kerry resume to boost a wartime presidency: two dovish Senate decades; a stint as a leading antiwar protester instrumental in creating the iconic image of Vietnam vet-as-baby-killer; an abbreviated tour in Vietnam that netted a considerable and, lately, controversial, collection of medals; and a presidential campaign. This, of course, explains why Mr. Kerry has strategically reconfigured his biography so that those four months in Vietnam 35 years ago appear, climactically, to precede his White House run today. Such a life, though, leaves rather a longer lull than either FDR or George W. Bush has ever had to explain.


Diana West

Diana West is the author of American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation's Character (St. Martin's Press, 2013), and The Death of the Grown-Up: How America's Arrested Development Is Bringing Down Western Civilization (St. Martin's Press, 2007).