Monday, August 23, 2004

The Switboat Vets are Reporting for Duty Too


The Swiftboat Vet stuff again. I try..try.. TRY to get away from it. I have a pretty strong drive to not be a pack follower. To set my own course. To zig when everyone else zags.

But I also have a basic sense that being unique just for its own sake is a desperate sign of an insecure ego. And this story really does seem to be about the biggest thing to come along in a very long time, for all sorts of unexpected reasons.

After 9/11 it would have been pretty stupid not to write about it. And while this certainly doesn't reach THAT level of importance, the value judgement remains the same. Sometimes news demands the headlines all on its own.

And certainly one of the most fascinating aspects of this whole thing is how the old media is trying to spike the story while the new media - especially the blogosphere - keeps advancing it. So how responsible would it be for me to keep away from it when that's just what the b*st*rds WANT me to do?!

Inspired by John Kerry, Bogus Gold is REPORTING FOR DUTY!!!

So I guess all that talk months ago when Kerry riled up his primary crowds telling Bush to "bring it on!!" has been exposed as fairly hollow bluster. As Captain Ed noted last night, Kerry's behavior when being challenged is rather schoolgirlish, and I think that will not prove to his benefit come election day.

Then there is the matter of comparing his behavior to that of President Bush who has been villified far more strongly, with more major media support, with less credible sources, and for far longer. I know the Kerry campaign thinks they can bluster and shake and jive just right and no one will notice the contrast. And I know a good deal of the fossils in the old press think so too. But I just don't believe it. Farenheit 9/11 came out, and the Dems put Michael Moore in a box at their convention with Jimmy freakin' Carter. The totally unfounded charge that Bush was AWOL was repeated by John Kerry himself, DNC Chairman Terry McAullife, Howard Dean, and countless other major Democrats. But when Kerry gets challenged they cry foul, try to shut down dissent, and blame Bush? I'm sorry, but again I think this won'y fly in the end.

So Kerry sqealed for Bush to denounce the ads - plus accusing him of masterminding them. Bush condemned the ads - but only on the condition that all ads of the sort, including those against him, deserve the same condemnation. "Not good enough!!" cried the Dems today. For Kerry to refuse to condemn attacks against Bush's character, while finding the same treatment about him WAY over the line suggests a sense of arrogance and entitlement. And again, I think this contrast won't fly come November.

And notice, this is all just about the style... the handling of the situation regardless of the substance. And the substance is not going to go away.

I got to hear the first twenty minutes of Rush Limbaugh's interview with anti-Kerry Swiftvet John O'Neill today. And even you hardcore Kerry supporters who think this is all a big put-up job by the eeeeeevil Karl Rove ought to take a good hard look. The case he makes is so thoroughly credible that those spreading the "already discredited" line in the mainstream press are going to end up looking like either paid propagandists or incompetent fools. And the problem for Kerry is not about who is funding the ad, despite the disproportionate attention that's receiving (funny how the name "George Soros" never comes up for comparison in those discussions by the "credible" press, isn't it?). The problem for Kerry will ultimately be whether the charges are true. A 50/50 split is deadly for Kerry's election hopes. Heck, and 80/20 split in his favor over the disputed facts might be deadly.

So how to make sense of all this? Well I think Varifrank is definitely onto something with his Grand Unified Theory Of Vietnam. Kerry tried to play on his Vietnam experience to bolster his credentials for national security. And in doing so he blundered right into the middle of a wound that never really healed. And the unleashed forces are going to tear someone - maybe everyone around it - to bits.

As for the tactics of the modestly funded Swiftvets themselves so far? Absolutely brilliant. The first ad which is still what Kerry and the press are focusing on was only the set up for the second. It's the second (and the inevitable followups to it) that will kill Kerry's election chances, and the Swiftvets who knew this planned and executed it perfectly. They positioned Kerry's response with the first one, and turned it against him with the second. It's like a well executed football draw play.

In any case, we'll certainly keep following the story. The internal polling numbers in response obviously looked bad enough that the Kerry camp has had to make a major strategy change and start buying ads to counter it in a month they had planned to "go dark" and wait until after the Republican convention to start spending again. Something is happening here. And I get the feeling both parties are more than a little shaken by it.


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