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. "Going Upriver: The Long War of John Kerry"

Many of us have seen that moment when the young John Kerry, as the leader of Vietnam Veterans Against the War, gave testimony before Sen. J. William Fulbright's 1971 Senate Foreign Relations committee, which included an obviously impressed Senator Jacob Javits of New York. Many of us may have forgotten the events that led up to his being invited to the hearing and what qualified him to do so.

George butler's documentary covers Kerry's Vietnam service and his later influence to end the war, with special emphasis on the qualities that made him a natural spokesperson -- intensity of purpose behind intelligent, sometimes eloquent articulation not the least among them.

This film documents those events and reminds us what leadership is about. After all, this leader of a grass-roots veterans' peace movement became, as a direct result of this historic moment, a candidate for senator, an eventual winner of that coveted office rendering 20 years of service there and, now, his party's nominee for president of the U.S. in the election of 2004.

Just how much Kerry's measured expression of his fellow veteran's deep emotions over the war and their treatment after discharge did help bring about the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam can only be suggested by the seriousness with which his testimony was received. Surprising the government with an ability to present the inflammable issue with such calm power, he came to be regarded by the political establishment as someone worth listening to.

Word of the impressions he was making on the hill reached the oval office where Chuck Colson advised Nixon to "destroy the young demigod before he becomes another Ralph Nader." This 29-year view of Kerry is partly based on "Tour of Duty," by Douglas Brinkley and is directed by a man who has been a close friend of Kerry's for many years. It may therefore be one-sided, but actual footage to make a case is hard to argue with or be unimpressed by. It comes off to me as a very high standard for the office Kerry's running for, one we can only wish all candidates for such high office could match or even come close to.

When else in the history of the republic have American voters been offered an oval office nominee with actual experience under fire, proven military and civilian grass-roots leadership with powers of reasoned eloquence, and the proven influence on government decisions even without benefit of elected position?

At the very least, it affords the historical background for one man's rise to presidential candidacy.

{See also: "Uncovered: The War On Iraq") Click for full list of movie reviews





                                      ~~  Jules Brenner  


Unspinning Fox News
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John Kerry
Addressing his peace movement


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