Looks like the dependably liberal Boston Globe is not going to be head cheerleader for hometown boy John Kerry….

In fact, Alex Beam, columnist and member of the team that put together the newspaper’s Kerry bio, chides Douglas Brinkley for being more of a Kerry surrogate than a historian.

Anybody who read the reviews of Brinkley’s hagiographic “Tour of Duty: John Kerry and the Vietnam War” had an inkling that this might be the case.

But Beam is able to point out specific instances of Brinkley’s lapses:

“Brinkley told the Atlantic magazine,” writes Beam, “which excerpted a portion of the book, that he interviewed ‘every single one’ of John Kerry’s crewmates on the so-called swift boats that Kerry captained in Vietnam. But in fact he did not interview crew member Steven Gardner, and — surprise! — Gardner turned out to be the only one of Kerry’s crewmates who disliked his former commander. ‘I would have talked to Gardner, but I couldn’t find him.'”

Brinkley quickly rushed into print with a Time magazine piece that put Gardner in a bad light. Nothing wrong with that, but, if Gardner is not a reliable source, Brinkley, who has a vested interest in preserving his reputation as a thorough historian, is less reliable.

“Despite his claim to have reviewed Kerry’s Navy records,” writes Beam, “Brinkley didn’t interview Lieutenant Commander Grant Hibbard, the commanding officer who likened the wound for which Kerry was awarded his first Purple Heart to a scrape from a fingernail. Kerry declined to talk to the Globe about this incident. In his role as aggrieved Kerry factotum, Brinkley ginned up a quick article for Salon magazine condemning Hibbard as a ‘blowhard’ and dumping on the Globe for reporting Hibbard’s comments. Brinkley could have spared himself the heavy breathing if he had bothered to interview Hibbard for his book.”

While Brinkley pursues the toadying-to-power mantel long draped about the shoulders of Arthur Schlesinger Jr., the small but perfectly formed historian of Camelot, I ask anybody who wants to take a swing at the two perplexing questions:

1. What kind of race should we expect when a president with (according to the CBS/NYT poll) only a 46 percent approval rating is still beating Kerry by a nose? (In a two-man race, Bush is only up about a half point–but it’s in all likelihood not going to be a Naderless race.)

2. Is a poll from CBS reliable? The network last night had a story on the controversy about Bush and Kerry’s military service. CBS went into some detail on Bush’s but merely indicated that there is some sort of post-Vietnam controversy surrounding Kerry.