Houston attorney John E. O'Neill, the Navy veteran who has emerged recently as a harsh and ubiquitous critic of John Kerry's military service, tells reporters that he has never really been interested in politics and isn't motivated by partisan interests. In the media, O'Neill is often described simply as a Vietnam vet still enraged by the antiwar speeches Kerry delivered more than 30 years ago. That was when O'Neill first came to public attention as a clean-cut, pro-war protégé of the Nixon White House's highest-ranking dirty trickster (aside from the late president himself), Charles Colson.As Jon Stewart would say, "A real douchebag for liberty."
Colson, who went to prison for Watergate crimes, saw O'Neill as a perfect foil to Kerry, whom Nixon and his aides feared as a decorated, articulate and reasonable opponent of the war and their regime. Indeed, O'Neill was perfect -- a crewcut officer who had served on the same Navy swift boat that Kerry had commanded, although their stints in the Mekong Delta didn't overlap. In June 1971, Colson brought O'Neill up to Washington for an Oval Office audience with Nixon. His impressions live on in a memo filed later:
"O'Neill went out charging like a tiger, has agreed that he will appear anytime, anywhere that we program him and was last seen walking up West Executive Avenue mumbling to himself that he had just been with the most magnificent man he had ever met in his life."
Now O'Neill has emerged from those decades of silence, roaring denunciations of the man who will become the Democratic nominee for president this summer. "I saw some war heroes," he told CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Tuesday. "John Kerry is not a war hero." [...]
Three years after Colson first brought him to the White House to meet with Nixon, who encouraged the young O'Neill to "get" Kerry and the protesters in Vietnam Veterans Against the War, he launched his legal career with a coveted clerkship in the United States Supreme Court. No doubt it was mere coincidence that O'Neill clerked with William Rehnquist, the controversial conservative who was Nixon's favorite justice and who went on to be appointed chief justice by President Reagan.
Nixon is gone, but his political heirs possess the White House -- and no doubt the disgraced politician would be pleased and proud that they are harassing Kerry with the same zeal that first brought Karl Rove to the attention of Watergate investigators. The young veteran he once showcased is now 58 years old, but O'Neill seems just as eager to battle Nixon's old enemies as he was back then.
Friday, April 23
More About The GOP's Military Hatchet Man
Joe Conason tells us additional stuff about John O'Neill, better known these days as G.I. Jackass:
Posted by Howard Hoffman at 5:26 PM