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Tilting at Windmills

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June 18, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

LAPDOGS....Over at Firedoglake, Peter Daou is hosting a discussion of Eric Boehlerts book Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush. I finally cleared away my pile of required reading a couple of weeks ago and read Lapdogs, which turned out to be pretty good: a partisan survey, to be sure, as media critiques almost inevitably are, but one with a more than normally compelling comparison to make. Instead of simply accusing the media of being generally liberal or generally conservative (or generally anything), Boehlert focuses primarily on the distinct difference in tone between coverage of the Clinton and Bush administrations. That's fertile ground.

And if you're the kind of person who likes to browse books in bookstores instead of actually buying them, my browsing recommendation is Chapter 7, an examination of press coverage of the Swift Boat debacle of 2004. Boehlert's question here is clear: why was this covered as a serious controversy instead of the vicious smear attack that campaign veterans in the press corps surely recognized it as? After all, (a) there was no evidence to back up even a single one of the Swift Boat charges, (b) there were enormous gaping holes in the stories told by the Swifties, and (c) every piece of documentary evidence dug up by reporters contradicted what the Swifties said. That should have been the story, but most often it was buried or soft-pedaled ("In the end, what happened 35 years ago remains murky...."). Boehlert's summary of how the coverage unfolded is the best I've read.

So: buy the book. Failing that, read chapter 7. The Firedoglake discussion is here.

Kevin Drum 6:40 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (66)

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Comments

You want to know why the Republicans have done so well with the traditional media--follow the money.

Posted by: Ron Byers on June 18, 2006 at 6:46 PM | PERMALINK

After all, (a) there was no evidence to back up even a single one of the Swift Boat charges, (b) there were enormous gaping holes in the stories told by the Swifties, and (c) every piece of documentary evidence dug up by reporters contradicted what the Swifties said.

Right, just like how there's no evidence of Kerry's christmas in Cambodia, there's gaping holes in his cover story for his self-inflicted injuries, and he literally spent more time talking about Vietnam (from the primaries to the election) than he actually was in Vietnam (four months). By focusing attention on the swift boaters instead of Kerry's lies and distortions, the media tried to help him, but ultimately wasn't able to tilt the election enough in his favor. With an unbiased media, the country is probably 75-80% republican; excluding the coasts, 95%+

Posted by: American Hawk on June 18, 2006 at 6:49 PM | PERMALINK

Yum, Trailer Trash Pie !!!

"While talking about the shake up at MSNBC, Cal Thomas was very candid about the state of FOX News.

Thomas: "All of them are trying to copy FOX News now to be honest. Many of them are doing tabloid. more big lipped blonde's and all this kind of stuff. There's only so much of that trailer trash pie to go around."..."

See clip here

Scarf it up American Chicken !

"The first lesson of democracy is not to hold the public in contempt." - Ronnie Earle

Posted by: daCascadian on June 18, 2006 at 6:57 PM | PERMALINK

Well, at least Kerry was in Vietnam, American Hawk. Bush was AWOL from the National Guard, packing his nose with cocaine and impregnating 15 yr. old girls when he was 22 (that's known as statutory rape in some parts). Some hero.

The one contrast that I think illustrates perfectly the difference in how the media has treated Bill Clinton, as compared to George W. Bush is that we know the size and curvature of Bill Clinton's penis, thanks to the right-wing smear machine, and we don't even know how many times Dubya has been arrested (four? five? more???). The filthy criminal.

Posted by: Stephen Kriz on June 18, 2006 at 6:57 PM | PERMALINK

Stephen Kritz, let me help you with Bush's criminal record....


bushs record

Posted by: jcricket on June 18, 2006 at 7:03 PM | PERMALINK

dac: That's typical liberal contempt for the American people. It should go without saying that fox news outperforms MSNBC on every level, including truth telling ability.

Posted by: American Hawk on June 18, 2006 at 7:10 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks, jcricket, but the chronology leaves out the Bush hypocrite paying to have his love child aborted which makes his pro-life rhetoric all the more farcical.

By the way, no t in the last name

Posted by: Stephen Kriz on June 18, 2006 at 7:14 PM | PERMALINK

Let's focus on Boehlert's biggest complaint of all: that the press rolled over for Bush during the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq. But the Democrats controlled the Senate at that time. Why didn't they lead the fight? When Democrats (and Republicans) denounce the media, they're really asking the media to do their job for them.

Posted by: Alan Vanneman on June 18, 2006 at 7:14 PM | PERMALINK

By the way, no t in the last namePosted by: Stephen Kriz on June 18, 2006 at 7:14 PM | PERMALINK

Humble apologies, Stephen Kriz.


Posted by: jcricket on June 18, 2006 at 7:21 PM | PERMALINK

But the Swifties, with the noble assistance of the suck-ass media, sure convinced a bunch of fucking idiots, including a lot of folks I know, that Kerry was dirty, lying, cowardly turncoat who fucked his fellow vets by telling the truth to Congress in 1971. It worked pretty well. I have rarely heard so much invective hurled at a candidate as I heard thrown at Kerry by some folks I formerly had a lot of respect for. I sat in stunned amazement listening to a friend of 40 years blasting Kerry, totally buying in to the bullshit and no matter of logic, truth, or reason could convince him otherwise. Needless to say I lost a bunch of respect I had for this guy for being so easily fucking duped.

Posted by: angryspittle on June 18, 2006 at 7:35 PM | PERMALINK

Looking up Bush's record during the Vietnam War is fun: Here's more from Salon

"His former Harvard Business School professor recalls George W. Bush not just as a terrible student but as spoiled, loutish and a pathological liar."

And that is just the subtitle!!!

read more

Posted by: jcricket on June 18, 2006 at 7:35 PM | PERMALINK

AH, man, you're still just a fucking idiot aren't you?

Not one fucking "fact" the Swifties told was a fact.

Posted by: angryspittle on June 18, 2006 at 7:39 PM | PERMALINK

Angryspittle--John Kerry claimed to have spent Christmas in Cambodia. That is a lie. He's fact free too. He spent more time talking about Vietnam than hea ctually WAS in vietnam.

Posted by: American Hawk on June 18, 2006 at 7:43 PM | PERMALINK

AH, I suppose you believe that we weren't fucking bombing Cambodia either huh?

Posted by: angryspittle on June 18, 2006 at 7:45 PM | PERMALINK

The Corporate Media knows where their next paycheck is. Tax cuts for millionaires will buy a lot of good coverage for The Good Strong Macho Guys!

And the Swift Boat people were all totally honest. Just ask Rush!

Posted by: Freedom Phukher on June 18, 2006 at 7:45 PM | PERMALINK

Why is it whenever bloggers, etc, link to a book, it is always to Amazon.com?

I thought that, according to BuyBlue.org et al., Amazon were the bad guys, and Barnes & Noble (and others) were better. So stop linking to the bad guys, and link to the good guys!

Posted by: Robert Earle on June 18, 2006 at 8:02 PM | PERMALINK

With an unbiased media, the country is probably 75-80% republican; excluding the coasts, 95%+

AH takes over where tbrosz left off. Apparently, when the majority of Americans agree with conservaloony talking points, that's evidence that those points are correct. But when Americans don't agree, why, that's just those pesky liberal media.

How tragic it must be to be right all the time, even when you're wrong.

Posted by: craigie on June 18, 2006 at 8:07 PM | PERMALINK

American Tbozo?

This is your Mama.
I can't seem to get in touch with you any other way.

Did you feed your pet sea monkeys today?

Also, it is that time again.
Yes son, it is Sunday.
Please leave your dirty sheets at the top of the basement steps.

One more thing.
Al and Jay called.
They want to know where you got your G. W. Bush poster.

I was aghasted and flabberjasted.

Son, you did get rid of that naked poster of our president didn't you?

Please tell me that you did.
I am worried.
The goverment is bugging everything these days.
What would they think if they knew you had a photoshopped poster of W with an overripe boner?

Posted by: Mother Hawk on June 18, 2006 at 8:33 PM | PERMALINK

'Apparently, when the majority of Americans agree with conservaloony talking points, that's evidence that those points are correct. But when Americans don't agree, why, that's just those pesky liberal media.'
--craigie

It's the Pontius Pilate view of reality, craigie. "Truth is what I say it is, because I hold the sword and I hold the power." However, the truth will be known by it's children - and the conservatives will all be still-born...

Posted by: Stephen Kriz on June 18, 2006 at 10:03 PM | PERMALINK

OK, back to the discussion at hand, I'll submit that one reason the media gave credence to the swiftboaters was the deafening silence from the Kerry campaign for the first five days after it broke. Schrum convinced Kerry that it would blow over harmlessly and the fool bought it.

For the past couple decades the Republican response to any accusation has been to carpet bomb the accuser into powder. The Democratic response has been to get suddenly interested in the carpet lint. Wonder why the media are more interested in Democratic scandals? They are safer.

Posted by: Pho on June 18, 2006 at 10:06 PM | PERMALINK

We are really wounded when you speak of only the lap dog . What about the sit up and beg , lay down and roll over , crotch sniffer and the licker.

Posted by: DUKE & DUCHESS on June 18, 2006 at 10:08 PM | PERMALINK

American Hawk--The New York Times article of 27 May presented compelling evidence IN SUPPORT OF Kerry's story about Cambodia. The Swift Boat scum were nothing more than a pack of damned liars, and if you insist on perpetuating their bullshit, so are you. And isn't it funny that a number of these Swift Boat assholes had previously supported Kerry in his Senate races. Gee, I wonder what happened.

Furthermore, I suggest you ask Georgie boy what the fuck he was doing defending America from the Viet Cong in Alabama. In the PUBLISHED records there is a clear entry on an Air Force National Guard document that shows Bush specifically requesting that he not be sent overseas, and an equally clear record from the DOD of Kerry specifically requesting service in Vietnam. Face it. Your hero is a fucking coward and a phony, as fraudulent a human being as the faux ranch he purchased in 1999 to look "manly" (even though he's afraid of horses).

You are an example of the kind of blind, fanatical rightwinger that is killing America. From monstrous debt that will crush our children to the most shockingly incompetent foreign policy in American history, you lovely conservatives are doing everything you can to kill off our future.

And instead of discussing actual issues, your hero Georgie the Overgrown Boy is trying to distract us by shouting "Queers! Queers!" and talking about flag burning, stem cells, and creationist idiocy. Just pathetic.

What galls you more, Hawk? The fact that your clowns lost three straight presidential elections in a row (92, 96, and 2000, the one you bastards stole) or that you probably had to steal the last one too?

Rightwingers are killing America, the country I love above all. I hate them for it, and I'll fight them every day for the rest of my life.

Posted by: Joe on June 18, 2006 at 10:52 PM | PERMALINK

American Squawk >"...John Kerry claimed to have spent Christmas in Cambodia. That is a lie..."

Soooo like, dude, were you there ?

Ha ha ha, ever been out of your mom`s basement ?

I don`t know one way or the other bout Mr. Kerry but I DO know several people that were "...never in Cambodia..."; just one of the places in SE Asia they were "never in" while they were

get my drift there Mr. Basement Keyboard Fighter ?

Stephen Kriz >"..."Truth is what I say it is, because I hold the sword and I hold the power."..."

Here`s a little older version of that; Pompey was, obviously, a Rethuglican

"Stop quoting the laws to us. We carry swords." - Pompey

Posted by: daCascadian on June 18, 2006 at 11:02 PM | PERMALINK

i'm not convinced that a blistering response from the kerry campaign would have made the slightest bit of difference: the media would have continued to play it as "he said, she said," and made all kinds of references to the "murky, unknowable" past and blamed kerry for having the nerve to have a biography no matter what he said or did.

i'd like to be wrong about this, because this same problem is going to recur in 2006, 2008, and as long as the contemporary gop is dominated by hateful liars, totalitarian scum, and propaganda robots, and as long as little asswipes like american hawk eat this garbage up.

Posted by: howard on June 18, 2006 at 11:19 PM | PERMALINK

howard >"...as long as little asswipes like american hawk eat this garbage up."

That Murcan Squawker do like him some trailer trash pie yes sirr ree

Gobble it up turkey !

"Everyday reality now is a complete fiction, manufactured by the media landscape and we operate inside it." - JG Ballard

Posted by: daCascadian on June 18, 2006 at 11:53 PM | PERMALINK

If the press really were just playing "he said; she said," then they would be obliged to report, as half the story, that many people view Bush and other Republicans as outright liers. After all, that's another viewpoint, and objectivity demands it be presented.

Posted by: Thinker on June 19, 2006 at 12:08 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

Let's face it.

Whatever else may have been true about the Swift Boaters, Kerry's original claim - that he spent Christmas across the border in Cambodia while Buddhist South Vietnamese troops celebrated Christmas by firing in his direction and that this incident was seared into his memory - was obvious nonsense.

Even today, with far more globalization, Christmas is pretty much a non-event in non-Christian Asian nations.

Kerry's claim is most interesting for the way in which it exposed his cultural blinders (did he really spend a partial tour in Vietnam without realizing that his allies were not Christian and did not celebrate Christmas?) but it was obvious nonsense.

Posted by: Michael Friedman on June 19, 2006 at 12:09 AM | PERMALINK

Michael Friedman:

Lotsa Catholics in Viet Nam. Diem and Thieu were Catholic. Many Catholics fled the to the South when the communists took over the north. So, no, it is not at all improbable that the ARVN soldiers were celebrating Christmas.

Posted by: bob on June 19, 2006 at 12:42 AM | PERMALINK

Even today, with far more globalization, Christmas is pretty much a non-event in non-Christian Asian nations.

Vietnam and Cambodia, after decades of French colonial rule, had significant portions of their population who were practicing Roman Catholics. Try again.

Posted by: Stefan on June 19, 2006 at 12:45 AM | PERMALINK

From www.country-data.com:

After the mid-1950s, Catholicism declined in the North, where the communists regarded it as a reactionary force opposed to national liberation and social progress. In the South, by contrast, Catholicism expanded under the presidency of Ngo Dinh Diem, who promoted it as an important bulwark against North Vietnam. Under Diem, himself a devout Catholic, Roman Catholics enjoyed an advantage over nonCatholics in commerce, the professions, education, and the government. This caused growing Buddhist discontent that contributed to the eventual collapse of the Diem regime and the ultimate rise to power of the military. Roman Catholics in reunified Vietnam numbered about 3.0 million in 1984, of whom nearly 1 million resided in the North and the remainder in the South.

Posted by: Stefan on June 19, 2006 at 12:52 AM | PERMALINK

...The Democratic response has been to get suddenly interested in the carpet lint. Wonder why the media are more interested in Democratic scandals? They are safer.

Makes a whole lot of sense to me.

Kerry did not learn anything from the Dukakis fiasco or MacCain or Max Cleland defeats.

Posted by: nut on June 19, 2006 at 1:17 AM | PERMALINK

michael friedman demonstrates why it wasn't such a simple matter for the kerry campaign to simply rip into the swifty liars: there are plenty of ill-informed people out there.

Thinker, helluva good point. i suppose all i can say in response is that the media only regards certain hes and shes as worthy of quoting....

Posted by: howard on June 19, 2006 at 1:17 AM | PERMALINK

(did he really spend a partial tour in Vietnam)

Friedman comes up with another lie, in that Kerry did not spend a "partial" tour in Vietnam -- his time on the Swiftboats was his second -- Kerry had already completed one tour of duty in Vietnam, as a lieutenant on the U.S.S. Gridley, and was on his way home when he volunteered for another tour in the far more dangerous Swiftboats. He'd done his time and was about to be sent home when he willingly put himself in harm's way. So while his Swiftboat tour was only four months, cut short as it was by multiple woundings, his total time on Vietnam duty was one year and four months.

Posted by: Stefan on June 19, 2006 at 1:35 AM | PERMALINK

For Stefan from the Boston Globe:

http://www.boston.com/globe/nation/packages/kerry/061603.shtml

Kerry initially hoped to continue his service at a relatively safe distance from most fighting, securing an assignment as "swift boat" skipper. While the 50-foot swift boats cruised the Vietnamese coast a little closer to the action than the Gridley had come, they were still considered relatively safe.

"I didn't really want to get involved in the war," Kerry said in a little-noticed contribution to a book of Vietnam reminiscences published in 1986. "When I signed up for the swift boats, they had very little to do with the war. They were engaged in coastal patrolling and that's what I thought I was going to be doing."

But two weeks after he arrived in Vietnam, the swift boat mission changed -- and Kerry went from having one of the safest assignments in the escalating conflict to one of the most dangerous. Under the newly launched Operation SEALORD, swift boats were charged with patrolling the narrow waterways of the Mekong Delta to draw fire and smoke out the enemy. Cruising inlets and coves and canals, swift boats were especially vulnerable targets.

Posted by: bostonbrahmin on June 19, 2006 at 2:42 AM | PERMALINK

Yes ... those volunteering for swift boat duty are clearly bigger pussies than ex-cheerleaders whose daddies procured for them cushy air national guard assignments.

Posted by: Nads on June 19, 2006 at 3:22 AM | PERMALINK

Ever notice how the righties never respond to comments about Bush's past? Of course, it's indefensible, but it's like they don't believe it or it doesn't really matter to them. But any little nit, real or imagined, in the past of a Democrat and it's the crime of the century to them. Bizzare.

Posted by: Stephen Kriz on June 19, 2006 at 6:52 AM | PERMALINK

How does what bostonbrahmin posted address the fact that the Swift Boat tour was Kerry's second tour, not his first -- i.e. that he volunteered for one more tour than was required of him? In fact, it doesn't -- it even notes that he'd already served on the Gridley and that he volunteered for the Swifts -- "when I signed up for the Swift boats...."

Now, please list for me all the combat duty in Vietnam that George Bush volunteered for....

Posted by: Stefan on June 19, 2006 at 9:35 AM | PERMALINK

The instant response to an attack on Bush is a slur on Clinton. ( The man was not smart to respond to questions about his private life. )
Anything to deflect the shit from sticking. Too bad there are endless quantities available.

Posted by: opit on June 19, 2006 at 9:44 AM | PERMALINK

The Swift Boat ad that I found most persuasive was the one with 200 of so former Vietnam vets blasting Kerry. The point I took away is the 7 or 8 vets in Kerry's "Band of Brothers" who did not represent the general feeling about him among the broader group of those who served alongside him.

That wouldn't have mattered or been newsworthy if Kerry hadn't made his military service the centerpiece of his candidacy. His campaign never claimed that he'd been outstanding student. AFAIK his academic record was no better than W's. His campaign never claimed he'd been a great legislator. AFAIK there few accomplishments to point to in his long Senate career. His military heroism was his biggest selling point. Once that was called into doubt, he was mortally weakened. He came close to winning because Bush was a weak candidate.

Posted by: ex-liberal on June 19, 2006 at 10:35 AM | PERMALINK

That wouldn't have mattered or been newsworthy if Kerry hadn't made his military service the centerpiece of his candidacy.

Shorter ex-republicrat: If Kerry hadn't been a war hero, Republicans wouldn't have smeared his war heroism.

Posted by: Stefan on June 19, 2006 at 11:26 AM | PERMALINK

Shorter ex-republicrat: If Kerry hadn't been a war hero, Republicans wouldn't have smeared his war heroism.

Yes, the Republicans would have smeared the Dem candidate in any way they could, and vice versa. That's today's politics.

Getting to the main point of the post, I disagree that the media covered the Swifties in a pro-Rep manner. IMHO just the reverse. They gave the Swifties no publicity at all, until they were forced to by talk radio, TV ads, internet, and book sales. The media followed Kerry's lead. When his campaign said nothing, the media said nothing. When Kerry eventually reponded, the media publcized his responses.

Posted by: ex-liberal on June 19, 2006 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK


ex-lib: The Swift Boat ad that I found most persuasive was the one with 200 of so former Vietnam vets blasting Kerry.

and nearly all had NEVER served with kerry or his unit in viet nam....

kevin: why was this covered as a serious controversy instead of the vicious smear attack that campaign veterans in the press corps surely recognized it as?

because the facts are biased?


Posted by: thisspaceavailable on June 19, 2006 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK


ex-lib: Yes, the Republicans would have smeared the Dem candidate in any way they could, and vice versa. That's today's politics.


"We must usher in an era of responsibility....[O]ur nation's leaders are responsible to confront problems, not pass them onto others. And to lead this nation to a responsibility era, that president himself must be responsible."

- G.W.B. Summer 2000

Posted by: thisspaceavailable on June 19, 2006 at 12:21 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, the Republicans would have smeared the Dem candidate in any way they could, and vice versa. That's today's politics.

Vice versa? Really? So perhaps you can recall for us all the ways in which Democrats smeared the military service of 1996 Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole, who was wounded while serving as an infantry lieutenant in the Italian campaign in 1943? You can't, of course, because it never happened.

The fact is that the smearing of vets' service records (Kerry, Cleland, Murtha, etc.) is entirely one-sided. Democrats respect and honor veterans, Republicans treat them with contempt and scorn.

Posted by: Stefan on June 19, 2006 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

nearly all had NEVER served with kerry or his unit in viet nam....

True, although some were up the chain over Kerry and some served in Swift Boats alongside him.

In any event, the numbers impressed me. Eight vets said Kerry was terrific; 200 said he was awful. That shook my faith in his military achievements. I recall reading that that was the most effective of the Swifties ads.

Posted by: ex-liberal on June 19, 2006 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

The Swift Boat ad that I found most persuasive was the one with 200 of so former Vietnam vets blasting Kerry. The point I took away is the 7 or 8 vets in Kerry's "Band of Brothers" who did not represent the general feeling about him among the broader group of those who served alongside him.

The "Band of Brothers" were the ones who served directly with Kerry on his boat, the men he led and whose lives he saved. The "200 or so former Vietnam vets" were NOT "those who served alongside him" -- they didn't serve with him, weren't on his boat, weren't his comrades -- they were, essentially, complete strangers to him, whose opinion has absolutely no value.

Posted by: Stefan on June 19, 2006 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

In any event, the numbers impressed me. Eight vets said Kerry was terrific; 200 said he was awful.

Jesus Christ, this moron is insane. The eight vets who served with Kerry said he was terrific, the 200 who never served with him claimed he was awful.

Let's say you're evaluating my performance at work. The eight people who work with me day in and day out say I'm great, 200 people who've never worked with me say I'm awful. Do the numbers matter? Or say I want to find out if someone is a good dad -- his wife and five children say he's great and a wonderful and loving provider, 200 people who aren't in his family and don't know him say he's a terrible father. Who's the credible source here?

Posted by: Stefan on June 19, 2006 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

ex-lib: 200 said he was awful


and yet despite the fact...

that nearly all had NEVER served with him...

you were impressed?

now that..

is funny...

Posted by: thisspaceavailable on June 19, 2006 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

True, although some were up the chain over Kerry and some served in Swift Boats alongside him.

Let's see what some of those who were up the chain of command over Kerry said in 1968/1969 versus what they said in 2004. Here from Hannity & Colmes, via Media Matters:

Colmes: Here is what Grant Hubbard [sic], who's now part of your group, here's what he had to say back then about John Kerry. And he signed -- let's put it up on the screen -- a report on Kerry. He said on initiative, one of the top few. Cooperation, one of the top few. Personal behavior, one of the top few. Why would he say that then and now be supporting you now?

Colmes: Let me show you the report of George Elliott, who also graded John Kerry in Vietnam. Here's what was said. Here's what he said. "In a combat environment often requiring independent, decisive action, Lieutenant Junior Grade Kerry was unsurpassed. LTJG Kerry emerges as the acknowledged leader in his peer group. His bearing and appearance are above reproach." That's a report of officer fitness from 1969 by George Elliott, who also graded Kerry. How do you account for that? Do you want to claim that everybody now is saying what you're saying? It's clearly not true.

And Fox's Carl Cameron reported that in 1968, Kerry critic Grant W. Hibbard,[1] a lieutenant commander in Vietnam during Kerry's tour:

'... described Kerry in various favorable ways, as quote, "One of the top few in his willingness to seek and accept responsibility." Captain George Elliot, who served in Vietnam at the same time Kerry did, condemns Kerry now for touting his service in a war that Kerry later protested. ... But in '96, Elliot and other critics of today, praised him for going after the enemy.'

www.mediamatters.org


So it seems that during the war itself, his commanders gave Kerry uniformly high marks. Decades later, however, after some of those men had become Republicans with close financial ties to George Bush and the Republican Party, they flip-flopped and changed their stories -- in simpler terms, they lied for partisan political gain.

Posted by: Stefan on June 19, 2006 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK


meanwhile, ....during the war itself, bush's commanders gave him incomplete marks...

and geesh...did any of bush's fellow guardsman ever claim to have even served with him?

Posted by: thisspaceavailable on June 19, 2006 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

Let's say you're evaluating my performance at work. The eight people who work with me day in and day out say I'm great, 200 people who've never worked with me say I'm awful. Do the numbers matter?

When hiring people, my best information has come from their former supervisors. IIRC some of Kerry's critics were former supervisors; none of the BoB were.

BTW not having been specifically in Kerry's boat doesn't mean that these 200 didn't serve with him. The swift boats went out together. Those serving in them lived together. Surely more than eight people had an idea of how well Kerry was doing.

So it seems that during the war itself, his commanders gave Kerry uniformly high marks. Decades later, however, after some of those men had become Republicans with close financial ties to George Bush and the Republican Party, they flip-flopped and changed their stories -- in simpler terms, they lied for partisan political gain.

Maybe so. OTOH I've seen situations where supervisors routinely gave good performance reviews regarless of performace. They treated the performance review as just one more piece of bureaucratic bullshit.

Posted by: ex-liberal on June 19, 2006 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

In any event, the numbers impressed me. Eight vets said Kerry was terrific; 200 said he was awful. That shook my faith in his military achievements. I recall reading that that was the most effective of the Swifties ads.

But ex-liberal, doesn't that beg the question of how 200 vets came into contact with him or even knew of him? That number strikes me as rather high for the normal course of operations. But if you consider that Kerry testified at, and helped organize the Winter Soldier hearings, then you get an idea of why some vets might be pissed at him.

Posted by: cyntax on June 19, 2006 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

Within the same post, ex-liberal claims both that

When hiring people, my best information has come from their former supervisors.

and that

OTOH I've seen situations where supervisors routinely gave good performance reviews regarless of performace. They treated the performance review as just one more piece of bureaucratic bullshit.

So is the evaluation by their former supervisor worthwhile or isn't it? If you know that supervisor routinely give good performance reviews regardless of performance then why does he treat them as his "best information"? I see the proud Republican tradition of believing that there is no objective reality continues....

Posted by: Stefan on June 19, 2006 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

When hiring people, my best information has come from their former supervisors.

OK. What do Bush's former supervisors in the National Guard say about his combat record...oh, right, he doesn't have one. Well, even though he saw combat he must have volunteered and served in Vietnam...oh, right, he specifically requested to be kept at home...well, at least someone must have turned up who remembers serving with Bush in Alabama, right?...anyone?

*sound of crickets chirping*

*offstage, a screen door slowly swings back and forth*

*a lone tumbleweed rolls past*

Posted by: Stefan on June 19, 2006 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

Back in April 2004 Kevin Drum provided one of the best summaries of the conservative "mindset" (if I may honor it with such a term) regarding the cowardice of G.W. Bush versus the courage of John Kerry:

George Bush, fresh out of Yale, uses family connections to join the Air National Guard in order to avoid serving in Vietnam. After four years of a six-year term he decides to skip his annual physical, is grounded, and heads off to Alabama, where he blows off even the minimal annoyance of monthly drills for over six months.

Conservative reaction: why are you impugning the patriotism of this brave man? He got an honorable discharge and that's as much as anyone needs to know.

John Kerry, fresh out of Yale, enlists in the Navy and subsequently requests duty in Vietnam. While there, according to the Boston Globe, he wins a Purple Heart and then follows that up with more than two dozen missions in which he often faced enemy fire, a Silver Star for an action in which he killed an enemy soldier who carried a loaded rocket launcher that could have destroyed his six-man patrol boat, a Bronze Star for rescuing an Army lieutenant who was thrown overboard and under fire, and two more Purple Hearts.

Conservative reaction: Hmmm, that first injury wasn't very serious. This is something that deserves careful and drawn-out investigation, and it would certainly be unfair to impugn "craven or partisan motives" to those doing the impugning.

Are these guys a piece of work, or what?

Posted by: Stefan on June 19, 2006 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

But ex-liberal, doesn't that beg the question of how 200 vets came into contact with him or even knew of him?

Moreover, that also raises the question of how not one, not one single man, has come forward who remembers serving with Bush in Alabama. But I suppose that Ivy League sons of Congressmen must have been so thick on the ground in Alabama that he just faded into the woodwork....

Posted by: Stefan on June 19, 2006 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

And still no answer to my earlier question:

Vice versa? Really? So perhaps you can recall for us all the ways in which Democrats smeared the military service of 1996 Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole, who was wounded while serving as an infantry lieutenant in the Italian campaign in 1943? You can't, of course, because it never happened.

Posted by: Stefan on June 19, 2006 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

But if you consider that Kerry testified at, and helped organize the Winter Soldier hearings, then you get an idea of why some vets might be pissed at him.

I agree with this. He passed on some sladerous accusations against the military. I'm sure many of them saw him as a "Blue Falcon."

It would have been better in a way if Kerry had run on his anti-war activism. IMHO what he did to end the Vietnam war was his biggest political achievement. Of course, that wouldn't have been a realistic approach to getting elected.

Posted by: ex-liberal on June 19, 2006 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

"They gave the Swifties no publicity at all, until they were forced to by talk radio, TV ads, internet, and book sales."

FORCED to? That is to laugh.

Yeah, Chris Matthews was FORCED to have the Swift Boat liars on night after night.

And they weren't FORCED to take the ads, either. They turn down ads they don't like all the time. Ask the Church of Christ.

Posted by: Cal Gal on June 19, 2006 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, ex-liberal's back. Now I'm sure we'll get him to back up Bush's less than stellar "service" record....

*sound of crickets chirping* etc.....

Posted by: Stefan on June 19, 2006 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

Moreover, that also raises the question of how not one, not one single man, has come forward who remembers serving with Bush in Alabama.

Kerry made Vietnam an issue by claiming heroism for himself while lying about his experiences. After Al Gore and his serial exaggerations Kerry just had to play it honest. Instead he offers a joke of a Xmas in Cambodia tale no sane 5=yr old could possibly believe and then Dan Rather offers a story based on a really bad forgery ONLY a 5-yr old could believe.

Thus GWBs service never as an issue. He made no claims aside from meeting his responsibilities and gaining an honourable discharge. Since that put him well ahead of Slick Willie he met all applicable standards.

Kerry on the other hand got caught in a shameless and stupid lie over Xmas in Cambodia. It was obvious and indefensible and he refused to correct the record leaving his defenders hanging like fools. It's all Karl Rove needed. The SBVs then had all the momoney they needed to run the testomony of Kerry coming home and calling all of his fellow vets war criminals. In 2006 that behavior is simply not acceptable.

Kerry was defeated by his own actions.

Posted by: rdw on June 19, 2006 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

He passed on some sladerous accusations against the military.

No, he did not. If he did, I'm sure you'll be able to provide some examples? (Remember, to be slander it has to be false).

Posted by: Stefan on June 19, 2006 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with this. He passed on some sladerous accusations against the military. I'm sure many of them saw him as a "Blue Falcon."

Yeah, it seems hard to say conclusively what the merits of the Winter Soldier hearings were. Some of the info passed on to Kerry, which he recounted, wasn't corroborated but I really don't think he had the intention of slandering anyone or the military.

And there was a lot of behaviour that the military engaged in which was worth repudiating. Remember that the Army tried to cover up My Lai, and many people in the military thought it should not have been treated as a war crime.

Posted by: cyntax on June 19, 2006 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

And finally, I think it's really important (especially given our current situtation in Iraq) to consider what policies and strategies are put in place from the top down and how these set the tone for combat operations.

In Viet Nam it got to the point where we had designated "free fire zones" in which any person could be considered a combatant just by virtue of being in that area. Such a policy will necessarily lead to violations of the Genenva Conventions when the theatre of operations does not have designated fronts but instead involves fluid lines and points of combat flowing across areas where civillians were.

Posted by: cyntax on June 19, 2006 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

"They gave me a hat. I have the hat to this day. I have the hat."

Hilarious! - keep rewriting history, Kevin, and make sure your blinders aren't on too tight, wouldn't want to see any truth out there!

Posted by: SunBeltJerry on June 19, 2006 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

but I really don't think he had the intention of slandering anyone or the military.

He had the intention of slandering everyone and that's exactly what he did. He made general, wholesale accusations of major war crimes. When you don't name anyone you by definition smear everyone.

In the post-68 era it was 'Chic' to degrade the military. Those days are long gone but liberals haven't quite figured that out. Putting out 1,500 stories of Abu Grahib for each positive story is classic MSM and explains why talk radio and Fox are so powerful. It also explains why the SBVs spent so much money running Ad's of Kerry's Smear. In retrospect his testimony is even more reprehensible.

That's why he isn't and will never be President.

Posted by: rdw on June 19, 2006 at 8:10 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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