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527 Vs. 527

The Democratic National Committee has a selective memory...

First they've launched into near-hysterical ad hominem personal attacks on the Swift Boat Veterans For Truth members, as opposed to refuting their claims with facts.

Now they are pushing the talking point that the group is to be referred to as "Swift Boat Veterans For Bush," since any 527 group that opposes Kerry is naturally taking marching from George Bush or Karl Rove, while the hundreds of liberal 527 groups keeping the Kerry campaign afloat are not at all related to John Kerry.

On that point I call bullshit.

Based Kerry's reaction to the SwiftVets the only logical counter attack is to hold John Kerry personally liable for every MoveOn.org, ACT, George Soros, etc. ad in existence and those that have yet to air. As a conservative that's fine with me, because those organizations are sure to produce some of the vilest anti-Bush ads you'll ever see, and when they do the blame will be laid squarely at the feet of John Kerry.

Perhaps the issues will be discussed around the time of the debates. Until then it seems as if we are stuck in a media war. Remember thought that you have to be consistent in judging the media campaign, either hold John Kerry personally responsible for any anti-Bush ad and President Bush responsible for any anti-Kerry ad or believe the fiction of the McCain Feingold campaign finance reform laws. Thanks to the Democrats for finding and exploiting the 527 exception, thereby spotlighting the futility of the McCain Feingold.

Update: James Joyner fisks Kerry mouthpiece Mary Beth Cahill's call to fund Kerry's 527's (who have something like a 4 to 1 money advantage over Bush's 527's.

Comments (10)

I call bullshit too.<... (Below threshold)

I call bullshit too.

The list of those trying to silence the Swift Vets grows longer each day.
The Club For Growth ad is also being met with letters from Dem attorneys.

About the Swift Vets: they have made it crystal clear that they call upon Kerry to release his records. Funny Kerry doesn't seem to be jumping on doing just that to prove them wrong, and I haven't heard a peep from any Democrat saying, "We believe in John F. Kerry, and his records will prove the truth is on his side!"

I would add that calls for ... (Below threshold)

I would add that calls for Bush to condem Swift Vets, could place him in violation of McCain-Feingold if it is perceived as co-ordination of the campaigns.

Regardless of who is right ... (Below threshold)

Regardless of who is right in this argument, this is turning into one of the nastiest election campaigns in US history, the claims and counter claims being made are staggering and have more to do with discrediting the private or pre poliltical lives of the candidates than questioning their ability to lead the country.

Anybody who tries to silence a veterans group or to use them for their own policitcal ends should be ashaimed of themselves. Veterans are volunterrs and conscripts who fought for your freedom and who suffered to protect your way of life, politicians shouldn't use them a a tool to attack their rivals or to present themselves in the right frame.

It is little wonder that so many countries view the US so harshly when it calls for democratic reforms in other nations when its own democratic process is so mired in this kind of mud.

If Kerry and Bush used the economy, education and the perception of America by other countries as a political tool I wouldn't mind so much, be everything seems to be comming down to a brawl over who can denounce the other most.

ACB,This country i... (Below threshold)


This country is mired in political mud because of the LEFT. George W. Bush has been attacked and accused of everthing under the sun, starting with "stealing" the election, which is complete and utter shit. This line of junk has continued on for four years now.

The Swift Vets sure as hell have their right to speak and be heard in the finest sense. They are doing this on their own, are you clear on that? To even lump them in with left-wing mud-slingers is an insult.

Remember too that John Kerry drew attention and invited a direct hit on his Vietnam career by trumpeting it around as his raison d'etre. He knew he had skeletons in that closet, and as such, he has no one to blame but himself.

As far as your attempt to say America is setting a shabby example of democracy: Tell that to the Kerry camp who is trying to shut the Swift Vets up, okay?

Some one please tell me why... (Below threshold)

Some one please tell me why there are no reader reviews on Amazon? Is it too early?
I expected to see some after reading Tony Blakely's article today.


Nastiest campaign ever? He... (Below threshold)

Nastiest campaign ever? Heh. That's just because you weren't alive during the =real= nasty campaigns of the 19th century... and they didn't have campaign laws then, and newspapers didn't pretend to be unbiased... the Jefferson/Adams matchup was particularly nasty which led to a split between the men for some time (most of the nastiness was on Jefferson's side, which he never fessed up to... though, as far as I can tell, Jefferson =never= admitted he was wrong about anything.)

Then the campaigns in the elections before 1860 (remember that little war?)... woo. And in 1864, one of the generals Lincoln fired ran against Lincoln. And, after all, what kind of military experience did Lincoln have? (none, other than being President) Naturally, someone like a distinguished general could achieve peace honorably better than some upstart like Lincoln...

Wow, this is sounding familiar.

Last night on MSNBC there w... (Below threshold)

Last night on MSNBC there was an interview with John O'Neill who wrote a book on John Kerry. He is one of the swift boat vets and he said that all kinds of legal people from Edwards and Kerry's office have been all over them to shut them up and to stop selling his book on John Kerry - UNFIT TO SERVE - then on vietnamveteransagainstjohnkerry, they even say on their site that they are having major legal battles from the kerry/edwards to keep them quiet too. They made a commercial and kerry/ edwards have sent letters to all the stations to make sure that commercial does not get released. Now I want everyone to think back to 9/11 and tell me how things would have been done if Kerry and Edwards were in office??? Would they have done as well as Bush and especially Cheney? I don't think so and the idea of those two artists in office makes me want to move to another country. He does not deserve it. People that don't like Bush who shoots from the hip, who also has a great sense of humor, should really get to know the man because I am thankful he was in office during that horrible, horrible day. I don't think any one else could have done as well. Amen.

I actually think this one i... (Below threshold)

I actually think this one is pretty easy. I'm neither Democrat nor Republican, but I like to get to the bottom of things. And sometimes issues that seem one-sided are really two-sided, and vice-versa.

In this case, I think it's pretty simple; the Swift Vets for Truth have a grudge against Kerry for what he said after he came back from the war. Unfortunately the group has marketed their view as a condemnation of what Kerry did DURING the war, which I think is reprehensible not to mention unpatriotic. Some would say Kerry slandered Vietnam vets himself in the early 70's, but if a person volunteers to go to Vietnam, and then comes back and speaks his conscience, I can live with that. What I find very unappealing is a campaign against Kerry that claims to target his service but really targets his politics. Watch out for this sort of thing.

I sent the following originally to Kate O'Beirne of the National Review Online. It summarizes a lot of what I found out about what's going on from some cursory research. As I told her, if there's a side that's closer to the truth, by all means people ought to get it out there -- although I personally believe that politics, not digging up dirt or questioning candidates' patriotism or service in a war, ought to be the issue here. It particularly amazes me when Kerry's opposition is a man who went out of his way to avoid the war, and then while in the Guard was either disciplined or requested a transfer, and then skipped out on at least six months -- maybe 12 -- so he even skipped out on skipping out. (This is my own best analysis of the facts I saw. There's a lot more information out there about Kerry's record than Bush's; but frankly I'm more concerned about the messes Bush has gotten into recently than any shenanigans he pulled back then.)

My previous comments about the Swift Vets for "Truth." I'm sorry if this is a bit long.


I just want to share with you my take on this new swift boat ad. Based on what I know, here's what's going on:

- when he came back from the war in the early 70's, Kerry made some people mad by questioning US policies; he stands by his positions but acknowledges he could have said some things more tactfully

- a wealthy Texas donor with close ties to Karl Rove has set up a political action group to take advantage of the pool of vets Kerry ticked off in the early 70's

- just one of these vets served on a Kerry swift boat

- most of those who criticize him had little contact at all with Kerry, and know him mainly from TV spots in the 70's [and other media]

- some of those who did know him wrote him positive evaluations during his service

- one of them has changed his story about Kerry twice in the past week alone [not just slightly altered; he said he retracted everything, and then he retracted the retraction; in total, he has retracted both of his positions at least twice, and he held Kerry's service in high regard for decades before switching -- then switching back -- then switching again]

Your editorial indicates that you may be aware of most of this, since you quote Roy Hoffman, the chairman of the group, as making a statement that has far more to do with politics than with Kerry's service: "the real band of brothers," he says, "are those who honorably and reliably stayed the course."

You also quote Andy Horne from Houston as saying "he was silent 35 years ago about John Kerry's allegations about atrocities, but vowed that he 'won't be silent ever again.' " You write, "The passage of time has had little effect on the raw emotions of these gray-haired veterans." You quote former Lt. Robert Elder as talking about the " 'deep sense of betrayal' he feels at the hands of a fellow naval officer."

In other words, this is about a political disagreement that these vets had with Kerry after Kerry left Vietnam, not what he did while he was there.

The ad does not make this clear, however. And while neither Kerry nor Bush are seeking to divide the country over the issue of Vietnam, there are some groups on both sides -- although none more dishonest than this one -- who are trying to unpatriotically open up old wounds that were beginning to heal.

John McCain called the ad "dishonest and dishonorable."

"It was the same kind of deal that was pulled on me," McCain said, and we all know he's talking about the truly below-the-belt tactics Rove used on him in 2000 during the primaries.

Retired Sgt. 1st Class Albert Lewis from Georgia said, "When I saw that, my blood pressure went up. I told my wife, these guys, I bet you, if they were in Vietnam, they were in hotels back in Saigon, eating steak and eggs for breakfast."

James Rassmann, who unlike the "Swift Boat Veterans" group, actually served on Kerry's boat, said, "What these people have said is not true... These gentlemen appear to be making this up as they go along and they are not keeping their stories straight." Rassmann was a life-long Republican until learning Kerry would be running for president, and then he promptly switched sides to support him.

Fred Short, who served with Kerry, said the ad showed that "the Bush campaign has nothing to talk about, so they resort to these dirty tricks."

The group has hired a private investigator to dig up dirt on Kerry similar to the stuff Rove tried to dig up on McCain in 2000. Their thresshold for truth is very low; what they're really interested in is finding information, confirmed or otherwise, that makes an ex-Vietnam vet look like a dope.

Pat Runyon also served on Kerry's boat. He talked to the group's private investigator, and told the Dallas Morning News he was startled to learn the investigator had added serious inaccuracies to the interview transcript he was later sent. Among other things, Runyon said the new interview transcript indicated he'd told the investigator a Kerry injury had been caused by a flare instead of a bullet.

So we know what to expect from this group in the next couple of months. If you have a different take on what they're about, I'm curious to hear it. But this is my best analysis.


Kateís Take: Brothers Against Kerry

p.s. If you haven't followed Rove very closely, one of the strategies he has sometimes employed is to throw out a lot of dirt -- whether innuendo or fact -- and simply hope enough of it sticks to bring down the opposition.

a few links with either the other side, or a more balanced side


also, more recently:

About the guy who recanted and then recanted his recantment. Elliot and others the in Swift Boat Veterans for Truth group said Kerry didn't deserve a Silver Star for bravery when, while under fire, Kerry shot an enemy who had a live B-40 rocket. We now know Elliot has recanted each of his positions at least twice.

From the New York Times:


"I still don't think he shot the guy in the back," The Globe quoted Commander [George] Elliott [of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth group] as saying. "It was a terrible mistake probably for me to sign the affidavit with those words."

The paper also quoted him as saying he had signed it in haste because the group, which is also behind a new book questioning Mr. Kerry's record that is set for release next week, was eager to have his statement in hand.

Commander Elliott had already shown some inconsistency concerning Mr. Kerry's record, especially regarding his storied encounter with the Vietcong, who was armed with a rocket launcher.

...[In 1996] Commander Elliott spoke in Mr. Kerry's defense, telling reporters, "The fact that he chased an armed enemy down is something not to be looked down upon, but it was an act of courage."


From Short, about that incident, from the Boston Globe, 1996 (if you say that's a liberal paper, well, this was a Massachusetts senate race, so they're the ones who actually cared). Short was there and said Kerry's actions saved his crew.


"I laid in fire with the twin .50s, and he got behind a hootch," recalled Short. "I laid 50 rounds in there, and Mr. Kerry went in. Rounds were coming everywhere. We were getting fire from both sides of the river. It was a canal. We were receiving fire from the opposite bank, also, and there was no way I could bring my guns to bear on that."

Short said there is "no doubt" that Kerry saved the boat and crew. "That was a him-or-us thing, that was a loaded weapon with a shape charge on it . . . It could pierce a tank. I wouldn't have been here talking to you. I probably prayed more up that creek than a Southern Baptist church does in a month."

Charles Gibson, who served on Kerry's boat that day because he was on a one-week indoctrination course, said Kerry's action was dangerous but necessary. "Every day you wake up and say, 'How the hell did we get out of that alive?'" Gibson said. "Kerry was a good leader. He knew what he was doing."


Capt. Wade Sanders, former deputy assistant secretary of the Navy, said there was a partisan motive in the group's ads, which the RNC denied.

"I don't think that many of the people who are following this gentleman, Capt. (sic) Roy Hoffmann, really understand the political implications of what's going on here, I mean what's fronting this."

In 1996 Sanders also defended Kerry. He said that "from our position, the tactic to take is whatever action is best designed to eliminate the enemy threat, which is what [Kerry] did."

Kerry's Silver Star citation reads in part:

"After proceeding approximately eight hundred yards, the boats again were taken under fire from a heavily foliated area and B-40 rocket exploded close aboard PCF-94; with utter disregard for his own safety and the enemy rockets, he again ordered a charge on the enemy, beached his boat only ten feet from the VC rocket position, and personally led a landing party ashore in pursuit of the enemy. Upon sweeping the area an immediate search uncovered an enemy rest and supply area which was destroyed. The extraordinary daring and personal courage of Lieutenant (junior grade) Kerry in attacking a numerically superior force in the face of intense fire were responsible for the highly successful mission. His actions were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service."

I haven't spent a lot of time questioning the service records of either Bush or Kerry, but I do think it's strange for people to question how Kerry was injured and when, or how brave he was, considering that Bush didn't endure any of it. Kerry's shipmates say he was brave, and they say he was a good leader. We know Kerry volunteered to go to Vietnam, so he must have been somewhat courageous and patriotic. Maybe he's just a clumsy wimp who hates America, like these guys are implying, but it doesn't add up for me.

* one final thing: some of these vets are from Coastal 11 Division, which in the 70's Kerry singled out in the media sometimes because he was familiar with it. This was his own division but the people who are speaking out against Kerry are those who had little contact with him. Those who worked closely with Kerry tend to regard him highly; recall that Rassmann even switched political parties to work for Kerry's 2004 campaign.

I am a Vietnam War-era vet ... (Below threshold)

I am a Vietnam War-era vet who dodged the draft in the old fashioned way--I enlisted in the Army 2 weeks before I received my draft notice. To my immense relief, I was sent to chase East Block spies in West Berlin instead of pounding through jungles, so I cannot claim the dubious honor of being shot at by enemy forces. However, I can claim to know the military system at that time--1969 to 1972. There are several recurring threads that are constantly being thrown out that I really take exception to. The foremost of these is the idea that if you did not serve on Kerry's boat, then you did not serve with him, and thusly you are not qualified to comment on his abilities as a commander or if he acted appropriately or not. This is utter nonsense. PCS boats did not act individually on missions, they acted in pacts.
If you go out on mission with another boat, sorry, you are serving with that other boat as part of a team. This is like two fire trucks responding to a fire and fighting the fire side by side. Do you seriously mean to say that the crew of truck one has no standing to comment upon the actions of the crew of truck two? After my stint in the Army, I was in federal law enforcement. When we hit a place with a search warrant, we would arrive with four or five cars of two agents each. Never once, in court, did I ever encounter any legal questions about my standing to state what I saw the crew of another do. Not once was it ever implied that I was not serving 'with' them, as I was not in the same car. Sorry, but when you are part of a team like the PCS boats were, on a mission where one boat, like one of my cars, depends upon the other for support and back up, you are working 'closely' with that other unit, and you are seving with them. To me, anyone using this line of reasoning, instantly discredits anything else they might say, even though it might be true.

Secondly, during the Vietnam War there was a high degree of medal inflation, at least in the Army. I ask of the Vietnam vets below officer rank, am I right, or am I wrong? I remember the good old days of sitting around the office as a hardstripe Sgt E5 drinking endless cups of bad coffee with my SFC E7 who had two tours in 'Nam and wanted to go back for another one in the worst way. I thought him a nutball for that, but otherwise he was one well-grounded guy. He had no love of officers and would tell stories of firefights he was in where helicopters full of officers would arrived, spend a few minutes pulling triggers, jump back on, and disappear. Why? Simple. At that time, get shot at and poof! you too can get a Combat Infantryman Badge with the right wording. He would tell stories of medal harvesting by the officers. His views were reinforced by others who were in 'Nam and rotated in. There was systemic 'ticket punching' in the Army at that time, and I would be astounded if it did not occur in the other branches. Remember, there had not been a war in a long time, and ambitious officers need their tickets to be punched. As an Army brat whose father hit Normandy beach as a Sgt in the 5th Ranger battalion, I instantly buy the honor and credibility of any medal received in WWII and Korea, but I am forever suspicous of any officer's medal from 'Nam until proven otherwise. The offical wording for a medal means nothing, until I can get behind that and know the real story. This is not a slam at Kerry, but at every officer during that time.
One last thing. People of both sides of the political spectrum are trying to make a big deal of the early outs of Kerry and Bush. I would like to remind everyone that in late 1971 and early 1972 the military was in a draw down stage, and lots of people got early outs. I was one of those. As a lowly Sgt I must have had a lot of political pull, with my blue-collar family not knowing a politician from a sign post. I was merely informed that if I was not going to re-up, then out I go six months early. Needless to say, it was a happy surprise. My point is, the early out issue is a non-issue to those who remember the military at that time. It may have traction with the uninformed, but to us early outers the point is pointless.

Depends on who is contribut... (Below threshold)

Depends on who is contributing to the 527. That's where Karl Rove and daddy georgie are illegal.






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