Florida Pilot

A compendium of random thoughts from a former Washington Beltway insider who is now having a lot more fun flying small airplanes in Central Florida.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

half of my kingdom for a blog

Someone else looking for that one little mistake that kept Kerry from winning the election.

Would John Kerry have been elected President if he had used bloggers to respond to the issues raised by the Swift Boat Vets? Daniel Terdiman, writing for Wired, suggests that may be the case.

"When the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth attacks on John Kerry's war record began to hurt his presidential bid, many felt that he waited too long to respond. One theory is that his campaign was conserving money for later in the race. But some feel he ignored an easy and inexpensive avenue for defending himself: the political blogosphere.
Because popular political blogs like Daily Kos, Atrios, Instapundit and others are widely read, the argument goes, discussions started there can quickly make their way into the national conversation. "

But this theory assumes that Kerry would have wanted the issues raised by the Swiftees to be discussed in the mainstream media and that is clearly not the case. There are two reasons that Kerry did not respond rapidly to the Swiftees; first because he was hoping that no one would pay attention to their charges and second, he really didn't have good responses to the issues that they had raised.

The Swift Vets held their first press conference in early May and garnered no attention from the mainstream media. Kerry had every reason to believe his media backers would continue to ignore the Switees later on.

The substance of the issues raised by the Swift Vets also put Kerry in an awkward position. Many of the allegations were based on inconsistencies between Navy records that had been released and the snippets of Kerry's own Vietnam diaries that he had arranged to have written into a book Tour of Duty. While it is possible that additional infomation related to the allegations of the Swift Vets could have been found in Kerry's unreleased Navy records or the rest of Kerry's own diaries, Kerry refused to provide these materials. It would have been difficult even for Kerry's media backers for them to undertake any kind of responsible "journalistic" style review of the allegations made by the Swift Vets without access to these materials. Also, while the vast majority men who served with Kerry opposed him, he did have a handful of supporters (his "band of brothers") who travelled with Kerry and who appeared to be on the campaign's payroll. But these folks were not made available for interviews.

In fact, once Kerry realized that the attacks of the Swift Vets were hurting him, he arranged for some of his liberal media supports to plant stories attacking the Swiftees. One of the first was by Michael Kranish of the Boston Globe who just coincidentally was writting a book in support of Kerry. Kerry's liberal media supporters in the New York Times and the Associated Press also published one-sides stories attacking the Swift Vets and these were picked up by other media as well.

Although Kerry never addressed the bulk of the allegations made by the Swift Vets, he did have to change his story in two key areas. One, he had to back away from his oft-repeated claim that "seared in his memory" was an incursion he made into Cambodia on Christmas of 1968 that was ordered by Richard Nixon. Of course, Nixon was not even president at that time. Also, Kerry had to conceed that his first purple heart award "may" have been caused by a self-inflicted wound which would, of course, have made it completely invalid.

The fact is that the Swift Vets deserve a lot of the credit for saving the country from a Kerry presidency. These individuals spoke up due to a sense of duty and some have had to endure person attacks at the hands of the Kerry campaign, the democratic party apparatus and liberal reporters. It is nothing short of absurd to think that an earlier airing of the Kerry's weak response to the allegations made by the Swift Vets would have helped Kerry. Even Dan Rather and his team of Kerry partisans couldn't have twisted the facts enough to aid Kerry.


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