Q Hi, President. Very short question. What are the things that you regret now that you have done in the past?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: What are the things that I regret? Oh, the list is so long. (Laughter.) I regret calling on you, because now I’m going to be telling everybody my business. (Laughter.) No, I’m just joking about that. (Laughter.)
I’m now 52. And I still feel pretty good. I’m a little gray-haired. But I will tell you two things I regret — one is very specific, one is more general. The specific thing is I regret not having spent more time with my mother. Because she died early — she got cancer right around when she was my age, actually, she was just a year older than I am now — she died. It happened very fast, in about six months.
And I realized that — there was a stretch of time from when I was, let’s say, 20 until I was 30 where I was so busy with my own life that I didn’t always reach out and communicate with her and ask her how she was doing and tell her about things. I was nice and I’d call and write once in a while. But this goes to what I was saying earlier about what you remember in the end I think is the people you love.
I realized that I didn’t— every single day, or at least more often, just spend time with her and find out what she was thinking and what she was doing, because she had been such an important part of my life.
Now, that’s natural as young people. As you grow up, you become independent. But for those of you who have not called their parents lately, I would just say that that is something, actually, that I regret.
The amazing mother of my kids and me.
My brother, my nephew, my mom, me, my daughter.
I am a blessed and lucky man, and two main reasons are these two mothers.
That sums it up…no right answer to be found. We are American’s, we do stand for those who cannot stand for themselves…but who are those people is a question that has become impossible to answer in many cases. I think when listening to the politicians (especially the President) know that they face the ultimate burden and I personally have NEVER felt that President Obama has made the wrong call, so I keep my faith/trust in his leadership (even with all the noise).
Meet Laura, the office manager at a local veterinarian’s. She is 32, has two young sons and as she was entering her 3rd trimester with her second son, Laura was diagnosed with breast cancer.
In the past few months, Laura has continued to work full time, be a mom, carry a child AND go through chemotherapy. Her husband lost his job a few years ago and they’re just beginning to get back up on their feet.
The woman on the left is my friend Vanessa, who says that she has never heard Laura complain and other than the few days following chemo, she hasn’t missed a day of work — even showing up once to work the day after her chemo. Vanessa says she’s seen Laura barely able to walk but “still she keeps moving and continues to show the office her beautiful smile and positive attitude.”
On Thursday, Laura took off work and yesterday, Laura gave birth to her second son Dylan — 8lbs 1oz.
In the future, she will face surgery/chemo/radiation while caring for a family. Laura is already planning on coming back to work in six weeks because they cannot afford her to take any more time off.
Vanessa wrote to her friends since Laura needs support. “I am posting my address. If you would like to help in any way, we would appreciate it. A letter/card of support - gift cards to help with groceries/baby items. Whatever you can give will help her. Laura has raised the bar on how to be a good human being. Will you take the time to help her?”
Incidentally — I know Vanessa because her son was killed at Combat Outpost Keating in 2009. It’s not as if she doesn’t have her own pain to deal with. And yet here she is asking for help for a friend and co-worker.
“She has handled this with so much grace and courage,” Vanessa writes. “Laura teaches me that to go on is all we can do….”
I just sent them a Wal-Mart gift card. If you can afford to do so, this is a family that could use some help.
Five years ago this month, my beloved brother-in-law, David Hahn, passed away, a few days shy of his thirty-sixth birthday.
A beloved member of the Palo Alto community, including the renowned Stanford Marching Band, David was an exceptionally warm and happy person. Making daily visits to customers and shopkeepers alike on California and University Avenues, he was truly the friendliest soul I have ever known.
For the entire month of September, his favorite restaurant, La Bodeguita, is donating $1 for every mojito ordered in David’s name to a not-for-profit organization in which David was quite active, Best Buddies, a not-for-profit organization that creates opportunities for friendships for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
If you’re looking for a drink or a good meal while doing something charitable in David’s memory, consider paying Palo Alto’s La Bodeguita a visit.
**Make sure to mention that you are there because of David. His favorite drink was a virgin mojito, so we think they will honor that as well as an alcoholic version. And, fyi, he would’ve recommended their croquetas, his favorite snack.**
The troops gave me permission to reprint their discussion as long as I excluded their names. I also slightly edited some of the conversation.
SOLDIER NUMBER ONE — Jake, last week you asked for soldiers opinions on striking Syria for the use of chemical weapons. Before viewing your recent video on CNN broadcasting the videos of children being affected by the chemical attack I was at a crossroads.
After viewing it I agree and support the administration for taking action in Syria. I do belive America holds the responsibility of defending the innocent from tyrants and genocide not only in America but all over the world. The same way any normal man would defend a child being beaten to death in the street.
The people responsible for the chemical attacks against innocent children deserve to die. However, In order to minamize more innocent civlian casualties the only way to do this is boots on the ground. Not dropping bombs or launching missile strikes.
SOLDIER NUMBER TWO - Really?
There is no possible way putting “boots on the ground” will help solve this problem. There is no possible way we can determine friend from foe on the rebel side leading to more “green on blue” attacks because the rebels are our friends, right?
These people as a whole are not fighting for a democratic outcome. It is a mix of Islamic extremists fighting for their own agenda not a unified Syria. You should know that this part of the world does not hold our American values or our way of life. Boots, bombs or any other American intervention is not going to solve Middle Eastern problems.
As much damage and terrible war crimes Assad has committed — which I agree is disgusting — places like that are only ruled by fear, power and greed. It’s a civil war there ,let them handle their own problems. If they want to mess with our ally Israel, put me in a plane. But until then there is no real difference in death by bomb, artillery, bullet or gas. Death is death.
SOLDIER NUMBER ONE — I’m surprised to see you oppose this for several reasons.
When we were in Afghanistan together you were one of the most dedicated soldiers to building relations with the Afghans an other foreign soldiers. What changed your opinion? Two, with the job you are switching into these type operations are going to be everything you are doing and stand for.
Trust me I still have my harsh opinions on Islamic radicals and anyone who knows me knows my hatred for them. This is why I said I was at a crossroads before viewing the video. This is what I based my decision and opinion on… If you view the video on CNN that Jake Tapper did a story on, you will see a small 8 year old girl convulsing in pain dying slowly. No child should have to suffer like this I don’t care if they are Muslim, Christian or African.
If we take all our political views out of the equation and base it off this idea it makes it easy…. If you had the power to take justice on a man or group of men responsible for the torture and death of innocent kids would you take action? If you decided to take action would you risk repercussion from the friends of these evil men? Would you be willing to sacrifice your own life for the justice of these innocent kids?
Forget politics and religion and base the answer off that alone.
No man, especially a soldier like you will answer no and not to take revenge. when you take religion and politics out of the equation. That’s all this comes down to.
I understand we have the same problems all over the world and we cant fix everything. However, we can do right when right needs to be done.
With that being said you may have misinterpreted what I said by boots on the ground. I don’t think we should handle this like Iraq and Afghanistan. We should not invade and build bases over there to try and change the peoples way of thinking and attempt to make them believe in our culture. I think we should send in Special Forces with all the assets they need to kill everyone responsible in the chemical attack and then move out. That way we send a clear message of what America stands for.
SOLDIER NUMBER TWO — I agree with you it’s a sad story and it is terrible any child has to go through something like that. But you can’t change their way of thinking or culture. It is what it is and always will be.
I can’t disagree with you that I tried my best in Afghanistan at OP Friche, COP Keating and OP Mace to work with the Afghan Soldiers. As you and I can both remember I was respected highly among the Afghan soldiers and still had one draw down on me.
On the second tour to Afghanistan one of them killed two of our soldiers on our base with the M16 we gave him and escaped.
So this is what we are dealing with now which has become more effective then an IED: someone who wears the allies’ uniform who breaks bread with you then shoots you in the back.
Unfortunately the US Soldier on the ground in Syria will see this as a regular ground troop or Special Ops soldier. There is no good answer for this and with US interdiction could lead to more bloodshed. As true hearted the American Soldier is and willing to make a real difference for the good of humanity, he is hated and misguided by those we try to help.
Ingrid Lundern writes: “Do a search on Tumblr for “yahoo” and you get a stream of distress, interspersed with the occasional bit of helpless resignation, and some calls for activism. The voices of reluctant acceptance (usually because of the aforementioned cash situation) or anything like positivity are few and far between. No outright enthusiasm.”
She posts this:
On the flip side, Forbes contributor Peter Cohan writes that “Yahoo’s Tumblr Buy Fails 4 Tests Of A Successful Acquisition,” suggesting among other notes that Yahoo! paid way too (a reported $1.1 billion.)
There are also those calling the acquisition "bold" and saying it shows Yahoo! chief executive Marissa Meyer "means business."
Karp pledges: “We won’t let you down.”
Do you believe him?
What do you think this will mean for your tumblr accounts, short term and long term?
What a Hero Sounds Like: Clint Romesha at the White House
"I stand here with mixed emotions of both joy and sadness for me today. I don’t think I’m much different than Medal of Honor recipients Sergeant First Class Petry and former Staff Sergeant Giunta and feeling conflicted with this medal I now wear. But joy comes from recognition for us doing our jobs as soldiers on distant battlefields, but is countered by the constant reminder of the loss of our battle buddies, my battle buddies, my soldiers, my friends.
"I accept this tremendous honor on behalf of all soldiers who have served with me that day. This award is for the eight soldiers that didn’t make it and for the rest of the team that fought valiantly and magnificently that day. I will forever be humbled by their bravery, their commitment to service and their loyalty to one another.
"Serving our nation in uniform is a privilege, especially during times of war. Like my grandfather, my father, and my brothers, I am proud to have the opportunity to serve with some of the finest soldiers today, not only during our mission in Afghanistan, but on all my deployments and tours during my 11 years in the Army."
- former Staff Sergeant Clint Romesha
(from the CNN Washington bureau, please excuse the TV coding above)
During CNN’s coverage of the confirmation hearings for former Senator Chuck Hagel I mentioned how the Vietnam war experiences of Secretary of State John Kerry and Hagel shaped their worldviews. I mentioned that Kerry had killed a man in Vietnam, though I wasn’t sure about Hagel.
Here’s a little bit more about the Kerry story, from a Nightline in 2004:
ABC News Transcripts
June 22, 2004 Tuesday
SHOW: NIGHTLINE (11:35 PM ET) - ABC
NIGHTLINE BAPTISM BY FIRE
June 22 2004
TED KOPPEL, ABC NEWS
It was dangerous and harrowing duty.
GENE THORSON, VIETNAM VETERAN
It was nervous-wracking, tense at all times because you never really knew what was really going to happen. You were like a big bull’s eye going up and down the river.
He killed an enemy soldier at close quarters.
FRED SHORT, VIETNAM VETERAN
When you’re close enough to see them to count the whiskers on their face, to be that close to someone, it becomes very personal. And that would affect anyone, I would suspect.
His experience in Vietnam changed him forever.
SENATOR JOHN KERRY,
DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE
Well, I think it affects anybody who carries a gun in another country, shooting at other human beings. Unless you’re insensitive, it has an impact on you.
graphics: baptism by fire
Tonight, “Baptism By Fire,” echoes of a distance war.
graphics: ABC NEWS: Nightline
From ABC News, this is “Nightline.” Reporting from Washington, Ted Koppel.
(Off Camera) In war time, governments award medals for behavior that could send a man to prison in times of peace. That can play games with a man’s head. It’s one reason why so many veterans who’ve been in combat, who have seen comrades killed, who themselves have killed, find it difficult to talk about the experience, even with family and friends, who have never been to war. I mention that because it’s relevant to John Kerry’s campaign for the presidency. Here’s a distinguished combat veteran who was wounded three times and awarded three Purple Hearts. Questions have been raised by Kerry’s political opponents about the seriousness of at least one of those wounds. But the rules are simple, if you’re wounded in combat and require treatment by a medic, you get a Purple Heart. Again, Kerry has three of them. Also, he was awarded a Bronze Star for courage and a Silver Star for gallantry. Those are the kind of medals you showcase in a Presidential campaign. And the Kerry campaign has done just that. It has also surrounded the candidate with Vietnam-era veterans. The Senator clearly sees his service in Vietnam as a plus. The Bush campaign has responded by reminded voters that Kerry became a peace activist when he came home. That he tossed those medals over the Capitol fence, in protest against the war, or at least claimed to be doing so at the time. John Kerry and his war time service are clearly a centerpiece for his campaign for President. But if you expect him to talk about how he won that Silver Star, the most important of his medals, you’re likely to be disappointed. As I said at the outset, there are some things that some veterans just can’t or won’t talk about. Here’s more from ABC News correspondent Jake Tapper.
JAKE TAPPER, ABC NEWS
(Voice Over) 35 years after his return from Vietnam, John Kerry remains inextricably bound to that war. His campaign tries to use his decorated service in Vietnam, as seen in this ad campaign.
POLITICAL AD VOICE, MALE
In combat, he earned the Silver Star, the Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts. Then, he came home, determined to end that war.
(Voice Over) But his leadership of a Navy swift boat and his anti-war movement upon his return, are also areas his opponents sharply criticize.
I remember watching Senator Kerry back when he was against the war, when he came home. And I was very troubled by the kind of allegations that he hurled against his fellow veterans, saying that they were guilty of all kinds of atrocities.
(Voice Over) Clearly, Lieutenant John Kerry’s four months in Vietnam and years in the anti-war movement shaped him. Such experiences provide some of his most humanizing moments. Reuniting with a man whose life he saved in the Mayhap River. They also cause some of his more visceral reactions, like in April, when Kerry was again about asked about an old controversy, whether he had thrown away medals to protest the Vietnam war.
SENATOR JOHN KERRY
This comes from a President and a Republican party that can’t even answer whether or not he showed up for duty in the National Guard. I’m not going to stand for it.
(Off Camera) It is clear, 29 years after the fall of Saigon, Vietnam is a war still being fought. If only in the hearts and minds of American voters.
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN, REPUBLICAN, ARIZONA
At least, could we declare that the Vietnam war is over and have a cease-fire?
(Voice Over) Amidst all this heated political rhetoric and angry exchanges, what may be most intriguing about Kerry’s service in Vietnam, are the limits he has established. Limits as to what he will talk about. Because, perhaps more instructive about him than whether he threw away his medals is how he earned them. John Kerry won his Silver Star on February 28th, 1969. But he does not like to talk about it.
How did you get the Silver Star?
SENATOR JOHN KERRY
You know, I got it surviving, I guess is the best way to put it. I think most people who walk around with medals in this country may be proud of medals. And I am. But are much more sort of thoughtful in remembering of the people that didn’t come home who are really the heroes. And I just am not comfortable sort of going into the story.
Did you have to kill somebody in Vietnam?
SENATOR JOHN KERRY
It is a matter of record, what I did in Vietnam. And over the months that I was in combat, yes, we know that we were responsible for the loss of enemy lives. But that’s war.
How did that affect you?
SENATOR JOHN KERRY
Well, I think it affects anybody who carries a gun in another country, shooting at other human beings. Unless you’re insensitive, it has an impact on you.
(Voice Over) He is not fully comfortable talking about it, even with his family.
And I said, well, what happened? And I was about seven. And he said, oh, the guy dropped it and ran away. And to be honest, it wasn’t until that two or three years ago that I actually learned that, you know, in the end, he actually killed someone.
We spoke with your daughter Vanessa. And she said that when you told her the story of how you won your Silver Star in Vietnam, you omitted the fact that you had to kill another man. And I was wondering why.
SENATOR JOHN KERRY
I don’t know when I told her. I can’t remember when I told her the story. But, you know, that’s the ugly side of war that I think you want to put behind you.
(Voice Over) But close friends of Kerry say the events of February 28th, 1969, are not something he has put behind him. They are something he carries with him everyday. Killing a Vietcong sniper was, by all accounts, a defining moment for him, as a soldier and as a man.
LYNDON BAINES JOHNSON,
36TH PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES
War is always the same. It is young men dying in the fullness of their promise. It is trying to kill a man that you do not even know well enough to hate.
(Voice Over) Since Kerry will not talk about the day he killed a man, four of Kerry’s crew mates from his swift boat sat down to try to explain what happened. Though, not one was eager to revisit the events of that day. They had been conducting Operation Sea Lords, an operation that sent Navy swift boats deep into enemy territory.
DEL SANDUSKY, VIETNAM VETERAN
We were in ambushes and firefights, you know, one, two, three, four times a day. And we’d be on patrol for a day or two, sometimes on a special operation. Sometimes just on a regular patrol up and down the river. But mostly, it was special op.
(Voice Over) It was dangerous duty. ABC News correspondent Frank Mariana was on board a swift boat when it was attacked by Vietcong on both banks.
DAVID ALSTON, VIETNAM VETERAN
There’s really no way you can prepare someone for what we did or what we went through. Going in a river, you know, the enemy hear you. He know you coming. You don’t know where he is.
When you got a 50-foot boat, and you go up 18 feet high from the water up, you’re nothing but a floating target.
I think it was shooting gallery. And we’re the little duck that goes this way and then comes back this way, right? We did it everyday.
I just assumed that every breath I took was my last breath. I had to put it in my mind that I was not coming back to endure what was going on.
(Voice Over) February 28th, 1969, was a day that started out badly and got much worse.
This is ABC News “Nightline.” Brought to you by …
(Off Camera) John Kerry and his crew mates were about to encounter the enemy, face-to-face. Part two, now, of Jake Tapper’s report.
(Voice Over) February 28th, 1969. Kerry and his crew mates were given a mission to take their swift boat up a canal off the Mayhap River. Surrounded by thick mangrove brush and many, many Vietcong.
So, we on the 94 and two other boats went up, with some friendlies. And we had two ambushes.
I guess we had gotten 800 yards or 1,000 yards at the most. And this time, another B-40 rocket hit and maybe a couple more. But this one was close aboard. It blew the windows out of the -crew cabin. I see out of a spider hole, a Vietcong stand up dressed in a loin cloth, holding a B-40 rocket. Now, that’s an RPG, a rocket propelled grenade. It was designed for -to take out armor.
Charlie would have lit us up like a Roman candle because we’re full of fuel, we’re full of ammunition.
(Voice Over) Protocol at the time would be for Kerry’s swift boat to fire to shore and then take evasive commanders. But Kerry ordered his second in command, Del Sandusky, to drive the swift boat onto the beach, directly into the ambush.
I knew right away that, you know, uh-oh, we’re in the -doo-doo now. But, yeah, I knew, you know, John was intent. You know, we got to go and get this guy. There was no way we were going to back down off the beach.
I know when John Kerry told Del to beach that damn boat, this was a brand-new ball game. We wasn’t running. We took it to Charlie.
I would say, he was so close that I could see that he had a mustache, a very weak mustache, that he was growing. I could see the mustache on his face. And things were going slow-motion now, because you feel you were, you know -this is really getting scary.
He needed like, 25, 30 yards to arm that rocket, all right. And as we beached, he could not aim it at us. So, he got up out of the spider hole, started running.
(Voice Over) Tommy Belodeau was manning the boat’s M-60 machine gun.
Tommy in the pit tank, winged him in the side of the legs, as he was coming across. But the guy didn’t miss stride. I mean, he did not break stride. He -like he was hopped up on something. He booked it. Maybe his adrenaline was coursing.
John sized up the situation and realized that once Tommy had started shooting at the guy and wounded him in the leg, you know, that this was the only course of action -you know, John was going to chase this guy down and kill him. ‘Cause if he didn’t, we were all dead.
When we got to the bank, the man -was still running down a path. And Senator Kerry jumped up. Tommy Belodeau jumped off. And Michael McDarris.
(Voice Over) Seconds later, the three men, in hot pursuit, saw the Vietcong.
The guy was getting dread to stand up with a rocket on his shoulder, coming up. And Mr. Kerry took him out.
(Off Camera) How close was he?
He would have been about a 30-yard shot. Which, we were dead in the water up on the bank, point blank. If he missed us, he would have to, you know -there’s no way he could miss us. He could’ve thrown a rock and taken me out.
If this guy would have got up and -he had a clear shot at us. We would have been history. Wouldn’t have been no doubt about it.
And if that RPG had exploded in the pilot house or anywhere in that area, we were toast.
(Voice Over) Kerry and Medeiros searched his corpse, confiscated the rocket launcher and returned to the boat. Kerry did not speak of what he had just done. But for a Navy man, killing a man face-to-face was unusual.
We usually didn’t see Charlie. So, to do an actual event like John did, you know, he never came back and displayed any symptoms or signs of problems that it bothered him. But I know it would have bothered me, you know, to do that actual, you know, kill a man, face-to-face.
When you’re close enough to see him, to count the whiskers on their face, to be that close to someone, it becomes very personal. And that would affect anyone, I would suspect.
(Voice Over) Kerry refuses to discuss in public how that event shook him and shaped him. And his crew will not betray matters he has told them in confidence about that moment. But Sandusky recalls a similar kill that affected him.
We knew that he was up to no good. So, we ran over with the boat, sliced up his legs pretty good. We brought him onboard the boat. The Vietnamese interpreter that we had onboard interrogating him, trying to get some information out of him. But he couldn’t talk much, he was going into shock. But as he was dying, he was looking me in the eye. And I still get bad dreams every once in a while. I’ll wake up and I’ll see that death stare. Seeing death face-to- face, in a combat, you know, it has to be a similarity of people that have done it, you know, when you kill someone and you’re looking them in the eye. When John Kerry shot the guy, I don’t know if there’s a similarity there to what I went through.
(Off Camera) Back at the base, Kerry’s commander said, half tongue in cheek, he didn’t know whether banking the boat and chasing down the sniper merited Kerry a medal or a court-martial. But days later in Saigon, Kerry was awarded the Silver Star for valor by Vice Admiral Elmo Zeumwald, commander of Naval forces in Vietnam.
(Voice Over) Only weeks later, Kerry earned a Bronze Star for saving a Green Beret while wounded and under sniper fire. He also earned his third Purple Heart, which at the time meant he could be transferred home. It wasn’t until 1996, when he even talked to many of his crew again. That was the year that, in the midst of a tough Senate re-election contest, a “Boston Globe” columnist questioned the circumstances under which Kerry was awarded his Silver Star, wondering how much of a threat a wounded VC could really have posed. Called by the campaign to defend their former officer, the crew immediately flew to Boston. Including Tom Belodeau, who died one year later.
TOM BELODEAU, VIETNAM VETERAN
This man was more than capable of destroying that boat and everybody on it. Senator Kerry did not give him that opportunity. And for that reason, myself and three other people are here today.
(Voice Over) Kerry’s response that day, visceral in his emotions, vague in the details, is pretty close to his reaction to attacks on his service today.
SENATOR JOHN KERRY
This was a firefight, life or death. And it was that way every, single day. And for some desk jockey who wants to come in, who hasn’t seen a firefight in his life, to try to say that, that is just wrong.
(Off Camera) Kerry’s crew mates have experienced a wide variety of post-war reactions, ranging from alcoholism and posttraumatic stress disorder, to normal acclimation in society. Kerry himself, by all accounts, has dealt with his demons, though both his first and current wives have spoken about the Vietnam ghosts that cause him nightmares. Clearly, killing that VC was a necessary action. It also is one that has left a mark on the Senator. The precise effect we may never fully understand. I’m Jake Tapper, for “Nightline” in Washington.
(Off Camera) So, do John Kerry’s Vietnam experiences help or hurt his Presidential campaign? That conversation when we come back.
(Off Camera) And joining me tonight, Adam Nagourney. He’s the chief political correspondent for “The New York Times” and has been covering the Presidential election since last year. I can’t say that I would have predicted that Vietnam would become an issue in this campaign. How much of an issue is it going to be? I mean, we’re four months away from election day.
ADAM NAGOURNEY, “THE NEW YORK TIMES”
Well, I think clearly, if Kerry has his way, his war record is going to be a central part of the campaign. From the very beginning, he sort of defined himself as a Vietnam veteran. And the fact that he served in the war has been a big part of his biography. The Republicans have made attempts to try to discredit it. I’m not sure how far -they can get away with that. We’ll see over the next couple of months. If they do, you could see a debate, given the nature of his service. ‘Cause it’s not only that he served in Vietnam, it’s that he came back and became one of the nation’s leading opponents of the war, as well. And that’s what Republicans focus on.
(Off Camera) And of course, there’s another aspect to this that you haven’t referred to yet. And that is questions about the President’s own record when he was in the Air National Guard.
See, I think that’s what complicates things for White House if they want to try to raise questions about Kerry. I mean, it just -once again, it tears open this whole wound of Vietnam, which I think still remains very strong. And if they want to try to discredit Kerry’s record, I mean, the bottom line is, the guy won five medals. And the President and Vice President found ways not to serve in Vietnam. So, they’re -in a complicated position as they try to do it. But I think that Vietnam is such a central part of Kerry’s biography and his existence and why it is that he won the Democratic nomination that there’s going to be a lot of pressure on Republicans to try to figure out a way to discredit it, if they can.
(Off Camera) Where does this go from here on in? In other words, just today, Adam, up on the Hill, there was a vote. He hasn’t been in Washington much for voting. But it has to do with veterans benefits. And the Republicans, apparently, deliberately delayed the vote so that he would not be able to get to California -I’m talking about John Kerry, now, in order to, you know, for a fund-raising trip. Is it really going to descend to that level?
I mean, as we were saying before, I think the Republicans, or certainly the White House, is constrained to the extent to which they can try to disrupt him on this. I don’t recall him ever coming back to Washington for a vote. That’s probably too strong. But it shows how important this is to his biography. So, I think, no matter what the Republicans are hoping or intending to do, you’re going to find that as we get closer to the convention, this is gonna become more and more a central part of his biography and the definition of why he would be a good President. And -while I think that’s relevant in any Presidential campaign, you know, military service, I think in this one, it’s going to be more relevant than ever. And I think -both sides get that.
(Off Camera) On balance, in other words, you think it’s a big plus for him?
I mean, especially in this year, when -you know, we’re looking at election when we’re talking about electing a war-time President. And I think President Bush’s approaching the election this way and Kerry’s approaching the election this way. And I think to present yourself as someone who’s been in battle and one war -at least, I mean, the whole rationale of Kerry as a candidate from the very beginning -and this is why, in my opinion, he won the Democratic primary, to a large extent. Was because he had the sort of military background. He’d been there. That he could compete with the President, who had led this country through this awful, awful time. And I think that’s going to become more and more clear as we get to the general elections.
(Off Camera) Adam Nagourney, thank you.
(Off Camera) American soldiers were, once again, under fire in Iraq today. Details of that when we come back.
graphics: Nightline: Abcnews.com
To receive a daily e-mail announcement about each evening’s “Nightline” and a preview of special broadcasts, logon to the “Nightline” page at abcnews.com.
(Off Camera) It was another deadly day in Iraq for Americans in the line of duty. Two soldiers were killed and one wounded when a military convoy was ambushed north of Baghdad.
(Off Camera) That’s our report for tonight. I’m Ted Koppel in Washington. For all of us here at ABC News, good night.
"This is a wonderfully disturbing book, just as you might wish it to be. I did little else the past few days but read it. The writing, the research is awesome. I learned a lot about soldiering and modern warfare, kept wishing for unmanned drones (read The Panther), and my heart broke every time a soldier died. So unnecessary. Military decisions perhaps should be made by women. I learned a lot about counterinsurgency and how we have wasted millions of dollars, meanwhile under-preparing our soldiers for Afghanistan. It is a shanda (yiddish for ‘shameful.’) I could become an isolationist. After reading your book, I’m thinking of doing some kind of volunteer work with soldiers—in Pensacola, Fl, it shouldn’t be hard to find something that is worthwhile. Thank you for writing this book; I will now begin to read your others."
— Pat Siegel Langnau
TAPPER: Pat, thank you so much for writing. It means a lot to me and it will mean much more the the troops and their families.
I spoke with former Staff Sergeant Clinton Romesha over the weekend, and as I expected he was completely humble about his pending Medal of Honor and quite sincerely expressed a desire for attention to be given instead to those who were killed during the horrible October 3, 2009 attack on Combat Outpost Keating, as well as to other troops who were brave that day, such as Brad Larson and Tom Rasmussen.
The White House announced this afternoon that President Obama will on February 11th award the Medal of Honor to Staff Sergeant Clint Romesha, formerly of 3-61 CAV, for his actions on October 3, 2009, when Combat Outpost Keating was attacked.
I know a little bit about Romesha (ROE-muh-shay) and the attack on COP Keating, having written a book about both, and I am so happy for both Ro and his buddies for this well-deserved honor.
There were many heroes that day, many of whom didn’t survive that attack, but Romesha is without question one of the bravest men I’ve ever known.
Romesha will only be the fourth living Medal of Honor recipient for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan. He retired from the Army in April 2011 and now lives in North Dakota with his wife and three kids.
In my book The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor, I decribe Romesha as:
an intense guy, short and wiry, the son of a leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Cedarville, California. His parents had hoped he would follow his father into the church leadership, and Romesha had in fact gone to seminary for four years during high school — from five till seven every morning — but ultimately, it just wasn’t for him. He didn’t even go on a mission, a regular rite for young Mormon men. Romesha was better suited to this kind of mission, with guns and joes under his command.
This doesn’t look anything like him, but the Army put it out today:
Here’s a better one, courtesy Sgt. Tom Rasmussen:
Combat Outpost Keating was located at the bottom of three steep mountains just 14 miles from the Pakistan border.
As you may know, on October 3, 2009, up to 400 Taliban — all of whom had the high ground — attacked the outpost. The battle was long and bloody. Eight U.S. troops were killed.
Here are some tidbits about Romesha during that October 3, 2009, battle, from the book.
After Taliban fighters have attacked the camp and reportedly entered it, Romesha:
stood on the deck off the aid station, in a semiprotected space known as the Café.
He’d had enough. He’d been trying to find out what was going on at LRAS‑2 when he spotted three Afghans by the shura building. Two had AK‑47s, the third an RPG. One was wearing camouflage, as the ANA troops often did. He turned to the Latvians, Lakis and Dabolins, who were standing just outside the operations center.
“You don’t have ANA on that side of the camp,” Romesha confirmed.
“No,” said Lakis.
So that was the enemy.
This is a gimme shot, Romesha thought. I couldn’t ask for a better shot. The insurgents walked by Stand‑To Truck 2, where they casually put down their weapons. They had entered Camp Keating unfettered, without being met by an ounce of resistance. One began adjusting his bandanna. They seemed to think the camp had been conquered.
They were wrong. Romesha fired and popped the fighter with the bandanna through his neck; he fell like a sack of potatoes.
But enough Taliban get inside the camp that the men of Black Knight Troop, 3-61 CAV, begin pulling back and holding on to a few buildings, ceding their own camp to the enemy. Romesha does not accept this.
“We need to retake this fucking camp and drive the fucking Taliban out!” he says.
He runs to Red Platoon barracks.
“We’re about to take this bitch back,” he announced. “I need a fucking group of volunteers.” He got them: Thomas Rasmussen, Mark Dulaney, Josh Dannelley, Chris Jones, and Matthew Miller. They knew they were going to be utterly and completely outgunned, but they had no other option.
The surviving members of Black Knight Troop at Forward Operating Base Bostick, a few days after the 3 Oct 2009 Battle of COP Keating.
Congratulations, Romesha. Looking forward to seeing you.
I believe I speak for all of America when I say: “The horror. The horror.”
New York’s Kevin Roose cites several objects d’art that Lew’s John Hancock reminds him of, including the slinky and the hair of Peanuts’ Sally Brown.
Actually, as a failed cartoonist, I can report with authority that Lew’s signature most closely resembles what is referred to in cartooning as a spurl — these are the corkscrews emanating from a character’s head when he is hovering below or above consciousness.
You can see it right below over the head of the first man carrying the glass.
"It started out as a joke for the National Cartoonists Society magazine. I spoofed the tricks cartoonists use, like dust clouds when characters are running or lightbulbs over their heads when they get an idea. My son Brian thought I should expand the idea and make a book of it. I spent many hours at the museum going over old cartoons and recording their ‘language.’
"I created pseudoscientific names for each cartoon cliché, like the sweat marks cartoon characters radiate. I called them ‘plewds,’ after the god of rain, ‘Joe Pluvius.’ I considered it a humor book.
"When it came out, I looked for it in the humor section of a bookstore and finally found it in Art Instruction. I inquired and they said, ‘What’s funny about it?’ I said, ‘The names.’ They said, ‘We didn’t know what those things were called.’ I said, ‘They weren’t called anything till I called them that.’ It was another case of satire falling flat. I gave up and am selling it now as an instruction book."
In any case, as Marketplace pointed outearlier this year, outgoing Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner changed his illegible signature to fit the responsibility of signing our currency.
It went from
One assumes Lew’s spurl will be similarly adjusted.
I never met legendary reporter Richard Ben Cramer, author of perhaps the best campaign book of the modern era “What It Takes: The Way to the White House,” but his is a huge loss for our national understanding of issues large and small.
Before he wrote What It Takes, which details six candidates in the 1988 presidential race — Bush Sr., Dole, Dukakis, Gephardt, Biden and Hart, names I recall from memory from his vivid descriptions in the book I read nearly 20 years ago — he penned a definitive piece for Esquire about baseball legend Ted Williams.
Writing for the Washington Post in 1992, David Streitfeld recalled:
"Several years back he did a profile for Esquire on baseball legend Ted Williams. It was the definitive piece, the first big interview in eons, obsessively researched and written. It was also 15,000 words, which is itself a fair distance to the length of a book.
"Esquire, however, had allotted space for only 13,000 words, and was standing firm. There was no room to print more. But as writers often do, Cramer felt that not one word was expendable.
"So here’s what he did: Went to the magazine at 7 o’clock one night when he knew the editor wouldn’t be there. Told the copy editing department he had been given permission to restore the deleted material. Told the art department that a decision had been made to shrink the size of the type. Went to the production department and made sure the finished pages were immediately shipped off to the printer.
"The next day Cramer sent roses to the three departments, thanking them all for grace under pressure. There’s now reportedly a notice in the Esquire art department forbidding the presence of writers."
(Cramer said the story, put forward by those promoting his book, was a tad exaggerated. He noted that what particularly ticked off Esquire was that he included the roses in his expenses.)
What It Takes (which Jack Shafer in 1992 called a “swift and beautiful barge of a book”) was six years and more than one thousand interviews in the making. If you haven’t read it yet, buy it today.
"I never set out to write a book about how did they win and how did they lose?" Cramer told NPR in 1992. "What I was trying to cover was what kind of life brings somebody to the point where they think they ought to be president. And then once they get into the process, what happens to that life? And it’s in the nature of this process that every one of these men has put himself and his family into a roll of the dice where five out of six will lose. So naturally there are some painful conclusions. And how they deal with the necessity of coming off the certainty that they will be president is exactly the story I set out to cover."
"I think it’s an open question whether they’re fit to be president at the end of the process we’ve put them through," he said. "But it’s also a terrible milling down of the person. I remember so vividly the—the sight of Michael Dukakis at the front of his big plane in a terrible—what I—what I came to call the Mediterranean hunch, with his shoulders up around his ears, not wanting to hear from anyone else that day. There was one night when he sat in the front of his plane and balanced his checkbook, so lonely was he for—for the life he had left behind."