Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
September 6, 2004
POLITICS: Targeting the Swifties
Well, even if the 200 Swiftees are lying, what does it say about Kerry's character that 200 of his fellow officers and sailors would come out of the woodwork and lie, cheat, and steal to keep him out of the White House? . . .
Dole made a related point with his "they can't all be lying Republicans"; some of the public probably figures, where there's smoke, there's fire.
And I don't have an answer for that, BTW. But proving the Swiftees "wrong" is not really the point - the point is, the guys Edwards would said would vouch for Kerry loathe him.
Of course, the truth or falsity of the claims about Kerry's medals certainly matter, although the Swift Vets' second charge - that Kerry betrayed and libelled them by his 1971 Senate testimony and by his secret negotiations with the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong while still an officer in the Navy Reserve - isn't subject to much in the way of factual disputes. And, as both Maguire and Captain Ed point out, there are still plenty of factual areas in which the Swifties or have either scored a hit or still have a ball in the air.
But Maguire's main point underscores why the Kerry camp has been so desperate to paint these guys as having been bought and paid for by the GOP - if the story is just "bitter ex-Vietnam colleagues smear Kerry," that's still bad for him. It's why Kerry can't just laugh it off and say, "well, it was a long time ago and people's memories always differ about things that happen in combat." It's why, in effect, Kerry can't let anyone believe that these 200+ Navy combat veterans are men of any honor at all, anything but cheap whores bought off for a pittance.
Which is not, to put it mildly, the posture you want as a candidate who's a putative champion of veterans. And certainly not if you're a candidate who said worse things yet about your military brethren all those years ago.