Thursday, August 26, 2004

Veterans Versus Veterans

This is the just-completed column slated to appear in the Sept. 1 issue of The Vermilion.

This year’s presidential election brings to mind the 1991 Louisiana governor’s race, in a “this-choice-should-be-a-totally-obvious-slam-dunk” sort of way. Still, people nearly voted in David Duke back then. What is to blame? The answer, of course, lies in lying.

If you watch television, you’ve no doubt seen one of the notorious “Swift Boat Vets for Truth” ads. This advocacy group is out to claim that John Kerry was unfit for command in Vietnam and is thus unfit for the presidency. If you rearrange the letters in “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth,” you get “That far-r.w. beef, it rots on U.S. TV.” Makes sense, really.

Three reasons not to trust the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth:

1) They’re not Swift. Do they really think that questioning Kerry’s military service is the smartest campaign strategy for Bush? Arguing about how deep the shrapnel went into Kerry’s forearm seems nitpicky, considering that the only foreign material in Bush’s body might be glass from a smashed beer bottle. Any mention of Vietnam in this campaign is likely to backfire on Bush. And we already know how Bush reacts under fire.

2) They’re not entirely Boat Veterans. SBV for T is funded largely through two donors, Harlan Crow (a trustee of the George Bush Library) and Bob Perry (ties to Bush brain Karl Rove). The group’s spokeswoman, Merrie Spaeth, represented Bush’s wealthiest supporters in 2000. Legal counsel is headed by John O’Neill, hand-picked by Richard Nixon to debate Kerry on TV in 1971. Bush campaign lawyer Ben Ginsberg has also been known to offer legal advice.

Then there are the veterans themselves. Though they served in Vietnam with Kerry, many didn’t literally serve WITH Kerry; they merely served at the same time. Though their honorable service dwarfs the military record of any of the hawks in the White House, it still does not let them off the hook.

3) They’re not about the Truth. The people behind SBV for T have a history of discrediting politicians with strong military ties. You might say they’re veterans at it! Just ask John McCain; in the 2000 presidential race, his five-and-a-half years as a POW turned into four years of Bush. In 2002, Sen. Max Cleland, whose memento from Vietnam is his left arm, was compared to terrorists by the same group. He lost.

The hand-picked veterans aren’t any better. One notorious Swift Boat Vets ad features Adm. Roy F. Hoffmann intoning, “John Kerry has not been honest!” However, Hoffmann has also been quoted as calling Kerry “a good man…I am not going to say anything negative about him.” Said Hoffmann of Kerry’s Silver Star: “It took guts, and I admire that.”

Other Shifty Boat Vets include George Elliott, who accuses Kerry of both dishonesty (“John Kerry has not been honest”) and courage (“The fact that he chased an armed enemy down…was an act of courage”). In a 1969 fitness report on Kerry, Elliott reported that “In a combat environment often requiring independent, decisive action…Kerry was unsurpassed.” Kenneth Cordier is a veteran who not only didn’t serve with Kerry but serves as head advisor for Veterans for Bush/Cheney. Then there’s Adrian L. Lonsdale, who declares that Kerry “lacks the capacity to lead,” yet once considered Kerry “among the finest of those Swift Boat drivers.” Wow!

If the Swift Boat Veterans really are looking for Truth, then they must be using some reverse psychology that I don’t understand. These guys have flip-flopped so much lately that, between the time I write this and the time you read it, they will probably flip some more and flop permanently.

The SBV for T slings its BS at http://swift1.he.net/~swiftvet/index.php.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Do they really think that questioning Kerry’s military service is the smartest campaign strategy for Bush?"

I would imagine that the fact that Bush and McCain are threatening to sue if they don't stop doesn't mean anything to you since you haven't said you would add that.

"SBV for T is funded largely through two donors..."

George Soros and MoveOn.org come to mind. How about all of the political entertainers (e.g. Whoopi, Springstein, Michael Moore) who have done nothing but bash the President all year. They're not funding any money to the DNC are they. Oh, and the Bush/Hitler ads were very tasteful and truthful also.

"These guys have flip-flopped so much lately..."

Don't even go there.

Don't bash a group when your people have been doing it from day one. It makes you look stupid.

Ian McGibboney said...

"Bush and McCain are threatening to sue if they don't stop"

McCain, maybe. Bush, I doubt. I never heard of someone suing their own lawyers.

"George Soros and MoveOn.org come to mind. How about all of the political entertainers (e.g. Whoopi, Springstein, Michael Moore) who have done nothing but bash the President all year. They're not funding any money to the DNC are they. Oh, and the Bush/Hitler ads were very tasteful and truthful also."

Say all you want about the entertainers, but they aren't John Kerry's personal smear squad. They're also not going on TV and saying that they served with Bush in the Texas National Guard. Come to think of it, no one is doing that, are they?

Anonymous said...

All of Bush's military records are there for everyone to see. He's already had his higher ups vouche for him. I've not seen Kerry release his military records nor have I seen more than 5 people vouche for him. That's the difference. Not to mention, the Dims started on Bush's service last year! They're only bringing it on themselves.

Let's see. Kerry never denounced his big celebrity Bush bashing cuss fest nor have the Dims tried to get rid of Michael Moore. Moore's "mockumentary" lie was in and of itself political propaganda and yet no Dims every asked Moore to stop airing it. Plus, how many anti-Bush albums are there out now? 3? 4? How many stupid musicians can sing about getting Bush out until it's considered a personal smear squad?

How about McClelend yapping about Bush joined the ANG just to dodge Vietnam? Since when did a branch of the military become fair game to say they don't count? Especially when it comes from a person of the military. Last I checked the ANG are very respectable men and women who protect stateside. I don't consider that less of a service than overseas service. But then again, I respect our military. I also have common sense.

And no, I wasn't saying you were intellectual because you're in college. I'm saying you're dumbed down because of it. You can tell by your use of curse words in your posts. If you can't be creative enough with the English language to avoid them, then you probably don't need to be using it. But colleges teach you freedom of expression, not freedom to be decent.

Ian McGibboney said...

"All of Bush's military records are there for everyone to see."

Yes, but they show very little of anything. And when they were finally released, the White House only presented one copy for the entire press corps and it was not allowed the leave the room. One 400-page document for everyone? Doesn't leave much time for anyone to pursue it...Fishy...


"He's already had his higher-ups vouch for him."

Like who?

"I've not seen Kerry release his military records nor have I seen more than 5 people vouch for him."

There are more than five people vouching for him in one campaign ad. And those guys, unlike the SBV for T, actually served on the swift boats for him.

"Not to mention, the Dims started on Bush's service last year! They're only bringing it on themselves."

Bringing what? This is the best thing they could've done, because it makes Bush and his cohorts look like incredibly hypocritical assholes. And dirty ones at that.

"Let's see. Kerry never denounced his big celebrity Bush bashing cuss fest..."

I see you're hip on your talking points. Very good.

"Nor have the Dims tried to get rid of Michael Moore."

Well, for one thing, Michael Moore is not a tool of the Democratic Party. If you haven't noticed, he piles it on them just as much sometimes.

"Moore's 'mockumentary' lie was in and of itself political propaganda and yet no Dims ever asked Moore to stop airing it."

F-9/11 was the most thoroughly fact-checked movie in recent years, and it's hard to lie with recorded video clips. Moore has injected his opinion, but that alone doesn't dismiss it outright. Have you even seen it?

"Plus, how many anti-Bush albums are there out now? 3? 4? How many stupid musicians can sing about getting Bush out until it's considered a personal smear squad?"

The difference between Bush-bashers and Kerry-bashers is that that Bush-bashers are a loose coalition unbeholden to anyone else. They're just entertainers anyway. Anti-Kerry people, at least the public ones, are almost to a man paid representatives of the Republican Party. Also, allegations that Kerry screwed up in Vietnam are very serious compared to the fact that we want Bush to own up to where he was for AN ENTIRE YEAR when he was supposed to be in the military.

"How about McClelend yapping about Bush joined the ANG just to dodge Vietnam?"

Well, that was common in those days, understandably. But remember that the TX NG was seriously wait-listed, yet Bush jumped ahead of about 500 people. Gee, how did he do that?

"Since when did a branch of the military become fair game to say they don't count? Especially when it comes from a person of the military. Last I checked the ANG are very respectable men and women who protect stateside. I don't consider that less of a service than overseas service. But then again, I respect our military. I also have common sense."

It's not the National Guard that's under fire; it's Bush. He practically deserted (at least, that's what can be deduced by his records and mum-ness on the issue) the NG, which is the real issue. Common sense, like you said.

"And no, I wasn't saying you were intellectual because you're in college. I'm saying you're dumbed down because of it."

I can't make any comments about your own education, being that I don't even know who you are (which is apparently how you prefer it). But how does one get dumbed down by education? That's a typical right-wing bugaboo: knowledge. The enemy of neo-conservatism.

"You can tell by your use of curse words in your posts. If you can't be creative enough with the English language to avoid them, then you probably don't need to be using it."

First off, I am VERY selective in my use of curse words. I spent nearly fifteen years (not childhood) without ever uttering a curse word. If you read the column, as you seem to have (even if you do rebut very little of its actual content), you'll see that no curse words are in it. This blog is my place of expression apart form legit media outlets, and I never said it was a family blog, so I'll say what I want. And you may be the first person in history to accuse me of non-creative writing. In fact, I usually make the same argument that you do about cursing. Hang around this town long enough and you'll find people whose only form of expressions are "shit" and "fuck." So I think I'm ahead of the game there.

"But colleges teach you freedom of expression, not freedom to be decent."

"Freedom to be decent." Now THAT sounds like a Bushism if ever I heard one.

Jimmy Huck said...

Anonymous likes hiding behind his (or her) veil of ignorance. Since Bushies like the notion of secrecy and lack of accountability, no surprise there. But on the merits of the argument, you, Ian, are simply too strong an intellect for Anonymous. The Swifties are playing just as fast-and-loose with the "truth," it seems. In fact, there's more concrete evidence (such as tape recordings - O'Neill; and medal citation language - Thurlow) that give proof to the lies of the SBV for T. As you know, I think if Kerry hadn't been a war critic, but continued to be as liberal as he is, we wouldn't be seeing this debate. In fact, we'd probably see the Swifties coming to Kerry's defense on his war record, if not support him on his political affiliation. It's a question of smearing because of a sense of post-war betrayal; it's not really an issue of getting at the "truth." Otherwise, the Swifties themselves wouldn't be caught with their pants down and their own rears deeply embedded in a bunch of lies.

Keep up the good analysis, Ian.

Flamingo Jones said...

According to a Salon article I just read,

"Ben Barnes, a former lieutenant governor of Texas, apologized for his role in getting a young George W. Bush into the Texas Air National Guard while young men who were not from prominent or wealthy families 'died in Vietnam.'"

No kidding.

Also, in reference to Anon.'s criticism of the Kerry campaign for the Bush=Hitler ad by Move On, it should be pointed out that Kerry immediately condemned that ad and the organization pulled it from media markets at once. Living in one of the three media markets in the country that have actually been airing the SBV for T ads, I can assure you that they have seen MUCH more airtime than the Hitler ad (which most people I know only heard about after the fact) ever did.

Ian McGibboney said...

I don't see how the SBV for T still has any supporters. I guess that's a testament to right-wing desperation.