Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
August 17, 2004
POLITICS: Who Is John Hurley?
UPDATE: Not the same guy. A relative? Even so, it kind of moots the point. Consider this item corrected.
So last night, I saw John O'Neill of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth on Joe Scarborough's show, debating John Hurley, national director of "Vietnam Veterans for Kerry." (I missed the same duo on Hardball last week, but it sounds like they did the same routine). Some Kerry supporters may wish to know: who is John Hurley? Well, Hurley is obviously a politically active head of a veterans' group, and he has a pretty thick Boston accent. Which leads me to believe that he is one and the same as John J. "Wacko" Hurley, head of the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council, who successfully fought all the way to the Supreme Court in 1995 to keep a gay group out of the Boston St. Patrick's Day Parade.
Somebody call Media Matters, which tried to discredit the Swift Boat group by dredging up a variety of intemperate and in some cases intolerant quotes by O'Neill's co-author, Jerome Corsi. At least Corsi isn't actually heading a group directly affiliated with the Bush campaign.
(Of course, the merits of keeping gay groups out of the St. Patrick's Day Parade is open to fair debate, depending on one's view of the parade, but what do you think Atrios would say if Hurley was heading a pro-Bush group?)
As for the merits, I gotta say, if this was the first I'd seen of this controversy, I would have started off very skeptical - O'Neill seems so over-the-top in attacking just every bit of Kerry's service record, and his demeanor is very cheesy trial-lawyer. But I was definitely more convinced by the end that O'Neill's charges could have some weight to them. O'Neill just had a whole lot more specifics on his side, and all Hurley could do - besides say he thought O'Neill should be ashamed of himself - was to cite Navy reports that apparently relied on Kerry's own information.
The debate over the circumstances of Kerry's Bronze Star (the rescue of James Rassman) seems particularly stark - Kerry and Rassman say that Kerry came back alone under fire to pull out Rassman, O'Neill cites the captains of several other boats who say Kerry alone fled the scene and came back when the shooting stopped while there were several other boats around pulling other guys out of the water. It's very hard to write this off as a difference in perceptions.
Anyway, I remain open to persuasion on who's right here, and I remain skeptical of how relevant any of this really is to the 2004 campaign. But there's clearly an interesting story here.