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John Kerry Takes Up the Swift Boat Charges

by Pamela Leavey

The Minneapolis Star Tribune weighed in on John Kerry’s renewed fight against the Swift Liars with an editorial on Saturday, saying, “We’re glad Kerry is undertaking this effort.”

Last Thursday, when John Kerry was in Los Angeles he sat down with a group of bloggers for an intimate chat about the issues of the past and the present. Among the subjects that came up was the recent NY Times piece about Kerry fighting back against the Swift Liars or as SteveAudio put it, the “Swift Boat Bastards from hell.”

Editorial: Kerry takes up the Swift Boat charges
He deserves this opportunity to set the public record straight.

Most of the controversies from the wild 2004 presidential campaign have long been forgotten. But one is coming back, the New York Times reported this week, and we’re glad it is: Sen. John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic nominee for president, is joining an effort to debunk the many attacks on his service in Vietnam more than two decades earlier.

Kerry is a holder of three purple hearts, a bronze star and a silver star, all awarded in a four-month stint aboard Navy swift boats in Vietnam’s Mekong delta. When he returned home, he was disillusioned with the war and said so, most famously before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971. There he recounted other veterans’ stories of atrocities committed and uttered the powerful question, “How do you ask someone to be the last man to die for a mistake?” (“How do you ask a man to be the last man to die in Vietnam? How do ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?”April 22, 1971)

Although they had little bearing on Kerry’s qualifications to be president, his young-man’s sentiments on Vietnam were a legitimate issue. But that’s not where it stopped. Reprising a campaign tactic that had worked well against Sen. John McCain in 2000 and Sen. Max Cleland in 2002, White House political strategist Karl Rove went straight at Kerry’s most significant strength: his war record. In the following months, Kerry was accused of shooting himself to get the purple hearts; of having political plans even at that young age that fueled a cynical plot to get medals any way he could; of fabricating, lying about and exaggerating his military experiences. The tactic worked; people began to think maybe Kerry was “Unfit for Command,” the title of an anti-Kerry book. Eventually, and bizarrely, people were arguing about whether Kerry took his boat into Cambodia on one occasion. To us the story sounded quite plausible (a number of Americans made clandestine trips into Cambodia during that time), as well as irrelevant to the campaign.

No candidate should have to endure what Kerry got. Some wanted him to sue, but he is a public figure, which complicates matters, and any lawsuit would have taken too long to work its way through the courts, in the meantime highlighting the accusations.

But now Kerry and a group of supporters are seeking to disprove them. Researchers are poring over naval records; Kerry has asked that his entire Navy file be released, and other veterans are giving their recollections.

We’re glad Kerry is undertaking this effort. So many of the accusations hurled at him were demonstrably false on their face. It’s time the record were set straight.

It is time to set the record straight — as seen in the right-wing blogosphere today, no less than a dozen right wing bloggers (starting with this one) are having a field day with perpetuating the smears and lies once again. Among the arguments they rehash is the Cambodia incident — Ron posted two articles backing up the Cambodia story in the comments of his post on the recent NY Times story. Those articles can be found here and here.

Eric Boehlert, author of the recently released “Lapdogs” wrote extensively in “Lapdogs” about how the MSM delivered the 2004 election to Bush by aiding and abetting the “Swifties.” And just the other day, Ron posted about an exclusive on C&L from Boehlert — “Why the Swift Boat Hoax Still Matters!” This does still matter — that is clearly evident today, as the assault from the right-wingnuts is renewed yet again.

It’s time to take this down — it’s time to prove that the lies and smears are just that — lies and smears.

As the Star Tribune said, “No candidate should have to endure what Kerry got.”

Furthermore, no veteran, should have their service questioned and this ultimately is not just about John Kerry, but every other veteran that the Swifties and the right-wingnuts seek to smear, because they dare to stand and speak the truth to power.

When John Kerry stood and spoke the truth to power about the Vietnam War in 1971, the Nixon administration went on the defensive and produced the anti-Kerry, John O’Neill. O’Neill has served as a tool of the right-wing ever since.

The proof is out there that the “Swifties” lies were “riddled with errors,” and the entire campaign against Kerry was “bankrolled by partisan Republicans.” Peter Daou recently posted an exclusive copy of a letter from Jeb Bush, thanking the “Swifties,” which I posted here as well; and as John Kerry told the group of L.A. bloggers that he met with last Thursday, the “Swifties” campaign was funded by a “$5 million check from T. Boone Pickens… another $3 million from another source… and they were able to get their message across by spending the $8 million.”

Democrats need to stand up and join John Kerry in his fight against the “Swifties.” Liberal bloggers need to do the same. We can not turn our backs as the “good names of men like John Kerry, Max Cleland and John Murtha and many others,” are smeared for speaking the unconscionable truths about wars that have been proven to be unjustifiable. (John Murtha has recently been under attack for speaking out about the Haditha incident.)

Ultimately, in standing with John Kerry to fight these lies and smears against him, we stand with every veteran whom the right-wing seeks to attacks for daring to speak the truth.

As Taylor Marsh recently said “Baby, this is personal for the Democratic Party and not just because of Kerry, though he’s very important here.”

Some of us are fighting to once and for all dismantle the Republican party myth that they outgun us on national security issues and matters of war and peace. That the Republicans could swiftboat a genuine war hero like John Kerry, who also had the courage to come back and speak truth to power and pay the price for it, says all you need to know.

66 Responses to “John Kerry Takes Up the Swift Boat Charges”

  1. Dave,

    Thanks for researching this. I just assumed that Darth’s comments on Vietnam were BS and dind’t bother getting into that.

    Whenever conservatives come up with something which sounds preposterous it is a safe conclusion that it is untrue.

    It is yet another reason why conservativism fails in the real world. They base so much of what they believe on fiction.

  2. Dave,

    Take a bow, we’re not worthy!!

  3. I agree.

  4. Ron obviously got the Tassimo hooked up with the blog, cause boy, I do smell the coffee brewing. 😉

  5. Just a thought…
    Is McCain’s picture displayed in VN as both McCain and Kerry were on the same trip?

  6. Battlebob,

    There could be a picture of George Bush shaking their hands and they would just mention Kerry being there if it suited their interersts.

    We also know from the photo shopped pictures of Kerry and Jane Fonda that Kerry does’t even have to actually be somewhere (or with someone) for the right wingers to spead stories about pictures.

  7. I have no doubt that if my “________ ” , General ___________ were alive that he would validate every word from Kerry’s mouth relative to his military service!

    Kerry has much to be very proud of his service!

    Mother of US Special Forces Soldier

  8. Darth Malice Says:
    June 5th, 2006 at 5:32 pm
    Hi Ron,I would think Kerry would ask the Vietnamese to take his picture down at their War Memorial.They put that up for people that helped them in their war effort.Would it not be better for him to present less of a target to the swifties if that were no longer an issue?He is running in 08 is he not?

    Gee, I would think Robert MacNamara, Warren Christopher, and Elmo Zumwalt’s family would ask that their pictures be taken down, too. After all, they were on display right next to Kerry’s.

    Don’t think so? Josh Gerstein wrote this in the NY Sun in August 2004:

    “While the museum clearly honors opponents of the war from America and other countries, it is not clear that the photo of Mr. Kerry is part of that tribute. The picture of the senator hangs among a set of photos devoted to the restoration of diplomatic relations between America and Vietnam in the 1990s.

    It was apparently taken as Mr. Kerry took part in a delegation President Clinton sent to Hanoi in 1993. Other photos nearby show visits during that period by former American officials who played key roles in the Vietnam War, including a Navy admiral who has since died, Elmo Zumwalt, and a defense secretary, Robert McNamara. A secretary of state during Mr. Clinton’s term, Warren Christopher, is also shown meeting Vietnamese officials.”

    NY Sun

    Jerry Corsi knew it too. Don’t think so? He included the picture of MacNamara meeting with Giap (who he incorrectly identifies as Mao!) in 1995:

    Photo #10

    You’ll notice that Photo #10 disappeared from his subsequent “update” of the page.

  9. Darth Malice Says:
    June 5th, 2006 at 6:53 pm

    Well nite everyone….Maybe the swifties and Kerry can meet face to face and have it out…


    Well, at least one of them was invited, but evidently chickened out:

    Patriot Project

  10. # Michael Says:
    June 5th, 2006 at 3:39 pm

    “Show me where Thomas Lipscomb got nominated for a Pulitzer ”

    Amazing! This is about John Kerry and you drag Lipscomb into the conversation? What does this have to do with Kerry’s lies? There are 16 posts above some of which are mine but in none of them have you proven any Swiftie lies, NONE!


    Well, part of the problem might be that the lies are so numerous it would take pages. But here’s a good place to start:

    Truth and Unfit for Command

    It might also help you get your own facts straight.

  11. Military Brat

    Thanks for the links!

  12. You’re very welcome. Great call on Lipscomb’s bogus Pulitzer.

    Of course Carlton Sherwood has a little problem in the faux-prize department when he refers to himself as a Pulitzer Prize “winner.”

    Looking at the Pulitzer website, you’ll see that when three or more names appear on an entry, it is the newspaper that is awarded the prize. Not the reporter.

    The website shows that the 1980 Pulitzer was awarded to Gannett News Service for the articles, not Carlton Sherwood.

  13. Sorry, meant to say great call on Lipscomb’s bogus Pulitzer NOMINATION.

    Though of course you never know…he could claim he awarded it to himself.

  14. Military Brat,

    You have been a welcome addition to the Dem Daily crew!

    Please stick around 🙂

  15. The Swift Boat folks served their country and for this they are called liars. All these men are liars. John Kerry and his “band of brothers” are truthful. Note the hypocrisy. Why is it a bad thing to call Kerry a liar regarding his service..but not bad to call other vets liars?

    This is one thing I do know…the same people who voted for Kerry called returning vets baby killers..and spat on them. Now you people want to refer to Kerry as a war hero. Now which is it..you can’t have it both ways. I see…they are liars, and baby killers if they are Conservative…and hero’s if they are Liberals.

  16. Rod,

    “Why is it a bad thing to call Kerry a liar regarding his service..but not bad to call other vets liars?”

    It’s a matter of definition. Kerry has been proven to have told the truth. The Swift Boat Liaras have been shown to have lied as part of a partisan political operation.

    “This is one thing I do know…the same people who voted for Kerry called returning vets baby killers..and spat on them. ”

    Now it looks like you are the liar here.