Thursday, August 19, 2004

Kerry v. Swift Boat Veterans

OK, let’s talk about the Swift Boat Veterans For Truth ad. You can see it HERE.

Until now, John Kerry has largely ignored the ad, choosing to let the facts speak for themselves:

  • While they claim to have "served with John Kerry", the men in the ad actually did not ever actually serve under John Kerry's command on either of the swift boats he served on – you’ll recall that his actual boatmates, the men who really served WITH Kerry, were on stage with him in Boston calling him a hero. As Jon Stewart noted on The Daily Show, apparently when the Swift Boat Veterans For Truth say they "served with John Kerry", they mean "they were in Vietnam at the same time" (although at least one of them did serve on a different swift boat in the vicinity of Kerry’s.)

  • While the ad did not originate with the Bush/Cheney campaign, Swift Boat Veterans For Truth is an independent 527 organization with ties to rich Texas Republicans and the ad was created by the same smear-meisters who were responsible for the Bush smears of John McCain in South Carolina in 2000.

  • Speaking of whom, John McCain himself came out strongly against the ad saying
I deplore this kind of politics. I think the ad is dishonest and dishonorable. As it is, none of these individuals served on the boat [Kerry] commanded. Many of his crew have testified to his courage under fire. I think John Kerry served honorably in Vietnam. I think George Bush served honorably in the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War.
In addition, he called on Bush to condemn the ad. Not surprisingly, Bush has not.
  • And on top of all of this, several of the stories told by the veterans from the ad have proven either untrue or have been retracted. For example, Louis Letson, who claims to be an authority on John Kerry’s lack of heroism because he "treated [John Kerry] for that injury" is nowhere to be found in any of John Kerry’s medical records of the time; also, The Washington Post today reports this about Larry Thurlow, a veteran who says that John Kerry is lying when he claims that his boat came under enemy fire during the events that led to his bronze star:
Thurlow's military records contain several references to "enemy small arms and automatic weapons fire" directed at "all units" of the five-boat flotilla. Thurlow won his own Bronze Star that day, and the citation praises him for providing assistance to a damaged Swift boat "despite enemy bullets flying about him."

But while the mainstream media has widely criticized the ad and conventional wisdom says that the Swift Boat Veterans are motivated by anger at John Kerry for protesting the war upon returning from it, there is a sense that the ad is, at the very least, succeeding in raising a question mark in people’s minds about Kerry's military record, which could prove costly since his heroism in Vietnam is such a crucial part of his campaign for president.

So finally, John Kerry has gone on the offensive. In a speech to the International Association of Fire Fighters in Boston, he said this about the Swiftboat Veterans For Truth:

They're a front for the Bush campaign. And the fact that the president won't denounce them tells you everything you need to know -- he wants them to do his dirty work. Of course, the president keeps telling people he would never question my service to our country. Instead, he watches as a Republican-funded attack group does just that. Well, if he wants to have a debate about our service in Vietnam, here is my answer: Bring it on!

It's been a while since he's pulled "Bring It On" out of his arsenal. You gotta give him points for restraint, although I personally will never tire of his appropriation of that phrase. Extra points for trotting out Kirsten Dunst, John.

In addition, today the Kerry campaign has released a powerful new ad ("Rassman") featuring Lt. Jim Rassman, the man whose life Kerry saved in Vietnam (and a registered Republican) directly contradicting the Swift Boat Veterans’ ad. Watch it HERE.

As a sidenote, MoveOn.org also released an ad this week countering the Swift Boat Veterans’ ad, using it to simultaneously criticize Bush. The script states: "George Bush used his father to get into the National Guard, was grounded and then went missing" and then goes on to quote McCain’s criticism of the Swift Boat ad saying "here’s what a true Republican war hero said." Predictably, John McCain has come out against this ad as well. As Salon.com’s War Room reports:

On Tuesday McCain told the Associated Press that MoveOn's ads represent "the same line of scurrilous attack" as the Swift Boat ads and that Kerry should condemn them.

And unlike Bush…

The Kerry campaign obliged, releasing a statement saying, "I agree with Senator McCain that the ad is inappropriate. This should be a campaign of issues, not insults."

2 Comments:

Blogger Elin said...

And thank you. Gwaah, the gall of the Bush camp is flabbergasting!

4:54 PM  
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2:29 PM  

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