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.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

still getting no respect

Sometimes the knowledge of success is all the reward that one gets from a productive endeavor. In the case of the Swift Boat Veterans for truth -- http://www.swiftvets.com -- the liberals have, by and large, begrudgingly conceded their effectiveness. But the liberals and the mainstream media they control have still not accepted the validity of the charges made by the Swifties.

Newsweek's view of the campaign acknowledges the effectiveness of the Swifties but repeats much of the liberals mantra in failing to admit the validity of the allegations

Newsweek reports:

"The attack of the Swift Boat vets did not catch the Kerry campaign by surprise, not entirely at least. Kerry's operatives had worried from the beginning that some right-wing group would try to use his old Vietnam antiwar speeches against him. In the summer of 2003 the Kerry campaign had quietly made some inquiries with C-Span, asking the cable network not to release old videotapes of Kerry as an angry young vet fulminating about war crimes and atrocities. Portions of his sometimes overwrought testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971 could be twisted into an attack ad, the Kerryites feared. They were told not to worry: the rules prohibited the use of the tapes for political advertising."

It seems outrageous to me that there should be restrictions on media coverage of a public event that was either completely funded by (or subsidized) by the taxpayers.

In any event, the first press conference of the Swift Vets was not in the midst of the campaign but back on May 4. I'm sure that the fact that the Swifties received almost no media coverage of this event heartened and enboldened John Kerry considerably. At that point in time, Kerry could certainly have appologized for his rash statments as a young man; certainly George W. Bush had done something in a similar vein regarding some of his conduct as a young man.

Newsweek also reports:

"The Swift Boat ads—a first round charging that Kerry had lied to win his medals, then a second batch accusing him of betraying his mates by calling them war criminals—were misleading, but they were very effective. The Kerry high command failed to see the potential for damage until it was too late.

The old-fashioned mainstream press was ignoring the claims of the Swifties"

But the fact is that Kerry was put in a difficult position. While the mainstream media were protecting him as best they could by not publicizing the allegations made by the Swifties, were Kerry to openly and directly challenge the allegations, the media would have had to at least create the apperance of looking into both sides of the issue (except maybe for Dan Rather and CBS) and that would certainly have included demands for Kerry to authorize release of all of his service records (which George W. Bush had done long before).

One can only conclude the the Kerry campaign made the conscious decision to ignore the Swift Boat vets for two reasons, (1) hoping that their allegations would not become a major issue and (2) because directly responding would have surely required releasing Kerry's Navy records and maybe those portions of his Vietnam diaries that he had also previously refused to release.

Instead, the strategy became to arrange for stories attacking the Swifties to be published in friendly liberal publications. "The Kerry campaign did work closely with the major dailies, feeding documents to The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Boston Globe to debunk the Swift Boat vets. The articles were mostly (though not entirely) supportive of Kerry, but it was too late. The old media may have been more responsible than the new media, but they were also largely irrelevant." The irony here is that these newspapers published stories attacking the Swift Boat Vets but never published anything about the underlying allegations. Someone only exposed to the Boston Globe, for example, would have read a story written by a Kerry-friendly reporter attacking one of the Swifties without any knowledge of why he was being attacked. The transparency of the liberal bias was obvious!

The Kerry campaign and the DNC had been aggressively attacking Bush's Air National Guard service for months. Although Bush never claimed his Guard service entitled him to the Presidency (contrary to Kerry's claim regarding his Vietnam service), the libera media actually invested much more time and effort in exploring Bush's service than it did Kerry's.

The maximum extent of media bias regarding the service records of Bush and Kerry was Dan Rather and CBS.

"In mid-September CBS's "60 Minutes II" aired a sensational report, claiming to have obtained long-lost records of George W. Bush's superior officer in the Texas Air National Guard complaining that Bush had shirked his duty. For a moment it looked as if the tables had turned, and Bush would have to endure an uncomfortable round of questions about his spotty attendance record in the stateside guard while Kerry had been dodging bullets in the Mekong Delta. But the moment did not last. Even before the "60 Minutes" segment finished airing, a blogger was up on the Web questioning whether the documents were fakes. The story quickly turned from Bush's war record to Dan Rather's carelessness and overzealousness—and even to the question of whether CBS had been secretly working with the Democrats to smear Bush. Rather and CBS kept the story alive by refusing to admit error."

According to Newsweek, "[t]he Democratic involvement in the story was minimal and essentially meaningless" , but how could they know that when the CBS internal investigation into the whole matter, including the coordination with CBS News and the Kerry campaign, has yet to be released.

But Newsweek cannot control it's liberal biase concluding as regards Rathergate, "the whole flap diverted attention away from questions, never entirely resolved, about whether Bush had skipped out on his guard service." What is known for certain about Bush's service is that he received an honorable discharge on a timely basis. What is known about Kerry's service is that he has disclosed an honorable discharge that was evidently granted through some sort of panel review several years after his time in the service should have ended. This observation was never of interest to any of the liberals in the media.

The bottom line is that the Swift Vets, using a total budget that would be pocket change for the likes of George Soros or the other billionaire backers of the likes of moveon, had a tremendous effect on the election results. They can be proud of what they accomplished for their country.


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