Companion site:


Google search...


Daily Howler logo
SPIN BOAT VETERANS (PART 1)! Why does Roy Hoffmann have total recall? Any chance that he’s reading a script? // link //

SPIN BOAT VETERANS (PART 1): Who is Admiral Roy “Latch” Hoffmann? In John O’Neill/Jerome Corsi’s Unfit for Command, the grizzled commander recalls a meeting John Kerry attended in Vietnam. As he recalls the ancient event, Hoffmann displays astonishing memory skills. Such skills that are often displayed by Kerry-accusers in this kooky but campaign-changing book:
O’NEILL/CORSI (page 64): Roy Hoffmann notes that Kerry’s version of the meeting on January 22, 1969, as just another “Kerry-concocted lie” [sic]. Hoffmann states:

I was standing behind General Abrams and Admiral Zumwalt observing the audience reaction. I distinctly remember Kerry sitting separated several seats from the nearest associate and to the left of the speakers. He did not ask one question or otherwise participate in the dialogue.

“I distinctly remember,” Hoffmann says—and then he says where Kerry was seated during an event in early 1969! Of course, many Spin Boat Veterans accomplish astonishing feats of recall in the course of this kooky book. But Hoffmann’s memory is especially striking. After all, the ancient mariner is 78 years of age—and sometimes, we’re told, he don’t function real good. Four pages after describing his feat of recollection, O’Neill makes us swallow down this:
O’NEILL/CORSI (page 68): In 2003, the telephone rang at Admiral Roy Hoffmann’s residence. It was John Kerry, calling shortly before his announcement that he was running for president. Hoffmann, who is now seventy-eight years old and who has survived sunken boats in both Korea and Vietnam and more hostile fire than nearly anyone among us, thought at first that the call was from Robert Kerrey, not John Kerry. Hoffmann, like most Swiftees, had never imagined that anyone would take John Kerry seriously as a contender for president of the United States. So for the first four or five minutes, Hoffmann responded enthusiastically, eager (as most Swiftees would be) to assist Robert Kerrey in his bid for the nation’s highest office. Then, when Hoffmann realized he was speaking with John Kerry, not Robert Kerrey, his tone changed almost immediately and he became completely noncommittal. Once he declined to give Kerry his support, the conversation faded fast.
Hoffmann remembers the ’69 seating chart—but last year, he spent five minutes cheering on the wrong White House hopeful. Does he really remember where Kerry sat? Does he really remember what Kerry said? For ourselves, we tend to disbelieve 35-year-old memories, even from people who don’t have agendas. But Hoffmann clearly has an agenda—and he has an astonishing memory to match it. But then, all throughout O’Neill’s kooky book, the reader is handed such feats of recall. And such memories tend to produce one result. Inevitably, they hand us “another Kerry-concocted lie”—just another bad lie by John Kerry.

By the way, how shaky is John O’Neill’s judgment? Quite plainly, he accepts Hoffmann’s account of that meeting—and writes off Kerry’s account as a “lie.” But Kerry’s account of that ancient meeting is taken from his Vietnam journal; it was written the day this meeting occurred. (Using the contemporaneous journal, Douglas Brinkley describes the meeting in his Kerry bio, Tour of Duty.) Hoffmann’s account comes 35 years later—and it comes from an ancient mariner who thought Robert Kerrey, not namesake John, was running for president in 2003. We’ll have to let the reader decide how to assess O’Neill’s judgment. For ourselves, we have one word for the scribe’s method—kooky. And oh yes, one other word—fake.

By the way, how big a faker is Hoffmann himself, the brilliant old man with seating charts in his head? In yesterday’s Philadelphia Inquirer, Tom Infield penned a detailed report on the crucial Swift Boat campaign. Hoffmann, of course, has been a key leader of the effort to bring down Vile Kerry. At one point, Kerry-accuser Larry Thurlow describes how Hoffmann scripted him up at a key July meeting:

INFIELD (9/12/04): Swift boat veteran Larry Thurlow flew in from Bogue, Kan., after the group offered to pay his and his wife's expenses. Thurlow said he was hesitant to become involved but Hoffmann kept asking him to join the group.

“The admiral helped me to see in hindsight what was really going on with Kerry,” Thurlow said...

Thurlow said the vets were told some of what to say, with the caveat that they weren't expected to say anything they didn't believe.

"I was told to say, ‘On the river that day, Kerry fled.’ But 'fled' connotes fear and I understood why Kerry left, then returned, so I didn't use that word," Thurlow said.

Oops! Thurlow was there on the Bay Hap River, and he knows that Kerry didn’t “flee.” But so what? The Swift Boat Vets have said it anyway—over and over and over again (examples tomorrow). In this way, a gang of fakes transformed one more White House campaign.

Why do Spin Boat Veterans have total recall? Perhaps Ol’ Latch has “helped them in hindsight” understand what they need to “remember.” But O’Neill and Corsi’s kooky book is full of acts of astounding recall. And slumbering pundits, staring into air, have swallowed such accounts without comment.

How should the press corps deal with such men? Such men will come forward in future elections. It’s time to prepare for such events now. Or does the press corps even care when elections get hijacked by men like “Latch?” Does the press corps care about men with agendas—about men who display perfect recall?

TOMORROW: Part 2! Oddball claims! Kerry just made it all up!

SPIN BOAT ETHICS: How kooky, how fake, is Unfit for Command? Continuing from the passage we have quoted, O’Neill and Corsi boo-hoo-hoo about the portrait of Hoffmann in Brinkley’s bio. The deceptive duo are deeply disturbed by “an impression one could easily gain” from reading the troubling book:

O’NEILL/CORSI (page 68-69): On March 15, 2004, Admiral Hoffmann’s phone rang again. Once again, the caller was John Kerry. Kerry had clinched the Democratic nomination, and he knew that Hoffmann was organizing Swiftees to bring out the truth about him...Kerry made the admiral an offer: If you will back off and drop your efforts, I will ensure that my biography, Tour of Duty, which I know is unfair to you, will be changed to make it accurate in a revised edition. Here is my secretary’s number—you can get me anytime.

The offer from the Democratic candidate was an attempt to flatter Hoffmann, a warrior whose coin is not power or wealth, but honor—an honored deeply impugned by Kerry’s book...

If Admiral Hoffmann were truly a butcher whose conduct “sickens” John Kerry to this day, an impression one could easily gain from reading Tour of Duty, then why did he call Hoffmann to seek his support?

The kooky “logic” of O’Neill’s book is on display in this passage. Also displayed is his grinding dishonesty, and the endless pity he feels for himself and for his poor abused Swiftees. How does Kerry feel about Hoffmann? The word “sickens” appears in quotations marks, almost as if Kerry actually said it. But no! You have to read more closely, friends! Kerry never said he was “sickened” by Hoffmann! It’s just “an impression one could easily gain” from Brinkley’s book—if, that is, you’re a total kook, and you read such works as O’Neill/Corsi do. After all, who is quoted in Tour of Duty saying nasty things about Hoffmann? No, Kerry doesn’t provide such quotes. But guess who does? That’s right—Larry Thurlow! A year later, Thurlow would attend that Virginia meeting and Hoffmann would “help him to see in hindsight what was really going on with Kerry.” But in Tour of Duty, it’s Thurlow, not Kerry, who trashes Hoffmann for his conduct in Nam. (So does another vet, Steve Hayes, and “many Swift Boat veterans under Hoffmann’s command” who only trashed him off the record. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 8/31/04). O’Neill, of course, knew all this. But O’Neill is constantly boo-hoo-hooing about slights to his honor and assorted lost glories. So he pretended that Kerry said he was “sickened” by the things the great Hoffmann did. No, he didn’t quite claim that Kerry said this. It was just “an impression one could easily gain!” In this and a hundred other ways, O’Neill and Corsi boo-hoo and deceive, while your “press corps” gazes off into air. Brinkley quotes Thurlow trashing Hoffmann. But in hindsight, O’Neill, dabbing tears away, came up with a much better recall.

Your press/pundit corps stared into air as this book transformed the White House campaign. How should they deal with such events in the future? We’ll give ground rules by the end of the week.