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Friday, August 27, 2004

The Biggest SBVT Lie

If you read a few right-leaning blogs about the Swift Boat Veterans for'll quickly think of 100s of things you'd rather do...wash the outside of your second story windows, clean out the garage, finally start that exercise regime...finish the great American novel you started sophomore year in get the idea.

Still, I do want to emphasize a point I've learned the last couple of days by checking on the right:
The right claims that the SBVT are merely responding to John Kerry, who made his Vietnam service the centerpiece of his campaign.
Hmmmm? Is that so?

I followed the Democratic campaign and primaries very closely. Go back and read my archives if you don't believe me.

Wes Clark made his military service the center of his failed campaign, but John Kerry talked about lots and lots of issues during the campaign. Kerry most certainly did not make his Vietnam experience the centerpiece of his campaign.

There, I've said it so it must be true. Actually, I know my readers have a higher standard of proof, so...

Note: Kerry did talk a great deal about security issues, but it was perfectly logical for the candidate to remind voters that he had some personal experience in the military.

Moreover, I acknowledge that Kerry emphasized his Vietnam service at the Democratic National Convention. Presumably, Kerry and his backers wanted to introduce the candidate to the non-party faithful that were paying attention to the candidate for the first time. Those November voters weren't paying much attention during the primaries when the Democrats were discussing health care, energy independence, the Bush tax cuts (and deficits) and other domestic issues, as well as terrorism and, of course, Iraq.

Why did they playup the Vietnam experience at the Convention? My theory is that they didn't want the Republicans to define a liberal Massachusetts Senator who is a threat to national security.

Why would the Dems think that was possible? Well, maybe they recalled the 1988 election, listened to Republicans talk about Ted Kennedy for decades, and watched President Bush's TV ads throughout the spring and summer of 2004.

My question for the right: if Kerry only started emphasizing his Vietnam service at the Democratic National Convention, how did the Swift Vote jokers manage to produce a book about his service in such short order? As The Washington Times reported on July 30, 2004, which was the day after Kerry's convention speech, the Swiftees already had a book in the pipeline. John O'Neill's screed was due September 25, but actually went on sale August 11. Indeed, it was supposedly already #2 on amazon's best-seller list on July 30, and had already been featured prominently on Drudge.

So, right-leaning readers (both of you), does that sound like a reaction to Kerry's convention?

To my mind, Kerry and the Dems were simply striking preemptively in July. As Digby points out, imagine what the Swift Boat stories would sound like if the Dems hadn't seen and heard Kerry's "band of brothers" at the convention?

There was very good reason for the Dems to think ahead. O'Neill has been after Kerry since the early 1970s. He's the same guy that helped Bush/Rove smear McCain in 2000 and has been after Kerry/McCain together since they collaborated on Vietnam MIA issues years ago.

I know that publishers can produce books in a relatively short time frame, but how can a book that was already #2 on the best-seller list the day after Kerry's speech be a reaction to that speech? Obviously, this book was in the works for months, likely initiated sometime in February or March when it was apparent that he would be the Democratic nominee.

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