too much typing—since 2003


about time...

John Kerry's response to Swift Boat Veterans Against Truth (that is their name, right?) was right on target, particularly these lines: "Well, if [Bush] wants to have a debate about our service in Vietnam, here is my answer: 'Bring it on.'" Following upon Josh Marshall's analysis that this flap is ultimately about perceptions of "toughness," these lines not only point out the true difference in the two candidates' military experience (service vs. weaselization at best) but allude, unmistakeably, to Bush's most grievous policy blunder and most inane statement thereon. The metatext, simply, is "I'm far more qualified to deal with military messes like Iraq, because I've 'been there' and would never mistake bullying rhetoric for effective policy."

And I love the fact that the guy who leads that Swift Boat group - Larry Thurlow, a Texas Republican who's been pissed at Kerry for Kerry's anti-Vietnam war statement - himself received his Bronze Star in the same battle for which he's trying to discredit Kerry's behavior - and the citation describing the circumstances under which Thurlow received his medal contradict Thurlow's claims that the group was not under fire.

What's sad is that Bush's team and fellow travelers like Thurlow are not utterly discredited in the public eye.


Anonymous said...

I agree that Kerry was (and is) clearly in the right on this issue, but by responding, he fell into the jaws into Karl Rove's expertly-baited passive-aggressive trap: it brought more attention to the charges of this group (dovetailing with key Roveiviellian Maxim "tell a lie enough, and it becomes the truth"), it kept everyone talking about Kerry's weaknesses (even a completely fictional one like this 'un), and it deflected attention away from Bush's own vulnerabilities. Kerry had to feel overwhelming pressure to smack down these hateful lies, but the Republicans won this one either way: Kerry says nothing and the allegations go unchallenged; Kerry responds and the charges get major media play and a sort of legitimacy. The GOP also knows that the media ("Liberal Media," my ass) are so whupped that they'll never follow up on the untruthfulness of these charges with the same fervor that they reported them in the first place. If we never hear a peep from the "SwiftBoat Veterans For Truth" again, they've already served their nefarious purpose.

- Miles

2fs said...

I think the real problem (as you imply, re the media) is that the right has so implanted in the public the idea that "hard" policy (military, etc.) is a Republican domain that no matter what the facts are, the public is ready to believe that Kerry was a shirker: why else would he be a Democrat? And of course, the Democratics' simultaneous refusal to embrace its left wing (arguably correct, in electoral terms, given the left's fractiousness and tendency to fasten its teeth dogmatically on philosophically pure positions that are difficult to defend in common terms) and inability to offer anything substantive in place of the right's law-and-order bluster, such a belief is understandable, even without the right-wing echo chamber. And it's that echo chamber that compels Kerry to have responded, I think: the Swift Boat charges would not have evaporated beyond the news-hole, because they clearly were the Foxweasels' talking points/marching orders. No matter how forceful his response, though, he's pissing against thirty years' of right-wing wind: it seems people's impression re Bush, war, etc. has only slightly been dislodged, no matter how many generals, former soldiers, policy wonks, and even firefighters and cops point out how lame he's been. Which raises another point...I'll address it where someone might read it, however ;)