Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Swift Boating 

I just attended a PA Veterans for Kerry news conference. The primary speaker was a Swift Boat officer and Bronze Star winner who served on missions with Kerry and decided to speak out today in support of him. Rich Baker, who voted for Bush in 2000, says basically that this is a national embarassment and that Kerry was the best of the best. He was joined by other vets who supported Bush, many of whom remain Republicans, who are offended by the GOP-funded lies of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. I wasn't going to say anything about this because it's not even worth it. But after seeing the head-spinningly unfair out-of-context quote from Kerry in the most recent ad, I had to vent.

Despite Sean Hannity's valiant efforts to make it seem like these are Kerry's crewmates, they're not. Kerry's men support him. The military records support the propriety of the medals he received. As other vets said today, what these ads are really attacking is the way the United States military does its work. The medals aren't given out without scrupulous examination of the events that took place, eyewitness accounts, etc. Every soldier in Iraq today should be worried about how his or her medals might be questioned later for political purposes. Apparently the process by which medals are awarded is inadequate, so maybe SBVT would like to take that up with the powers that be.

The most prominent members of SBVT supported Kerry, even appearing WITH him at 1996 news conferences. Rich Baker, the guy I saw today, says he was with the SBVT at a party at Kerry's home in 1995, and they all were behind Kerry. Adding hilarity to absurdity, the men who say today that Kerry isn't fit for duty praised him specifically at 1996 events. For what, you ask? Why, his service in Vietnam!

The SBVT also say you should be upset to learn that there may have been shooting before and after, but not at the exact moment that Kerry rescued that guy Rassman. If true, it's appalling, eh? He shouldn't get a medal for that. I have picnics in conditions worse than that! I'm surprised SBVT aren't saying that Rassmann jumped into the water in the hopes of being rescued and someday becoming Secretary of Agriculture. Seriously, we're not far from that level of absurdity. This is a smear campaign on par with what the Bushies did to McCain in 2000, when voters in white, conservative homes were told that McCain had fathered an illegitimate black child.

Right-wingers are comparing this with the Bush AWOL deal. I personally think that both issues are a waste of time. Even so, there's no comparing the two. Accusations were made against Bush, he released the military records, and they don't back up his claims. Accusations were made against Kerry that the records themselves were falsified. Not exactly the same thing.

Even though I think this kind of politics will eventually destroy this country, it's something that started a long time ago and Kerry can't win without fighting back. So if we're going to play dirty, let's play dirty. How about finding Bush's cocaine dealer from the early 70's? Or scores of people to just sit down and talk about the alcoholic haze he was in for a decade, before God told him to sober up and lie to decent Americans about being a moderate, compassionate conservative.

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