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The Bush/GOP Smear Campaign Hits Full Stride

August 10th, 2004

You have probably heard the Swift Boat Veterans for “Truth” advertisement, in which they go around saying, I served with John Kerry!” and then denounce him in a variety of ways. The group claims to be non-partisan. Their ad, however, is so full of lies, that if the truth were told, the ad would sound very different–imagine “Swift Boat Veterans Under Truth Serum”:

“I didn’t serve with Kerry, but I was in Vietnam at the same time as he was, and now I’m a partisan Republican who is really pissed at him. So I’m here to smear him any way I can, and use the fact that I was in Vietnam to do so.”

“Me too. I never served a day with him, but I was over there at about the same time. I don’t like the fact that he spoke out against the war, so I’m trying to keep him from being elected now. But if I just say that I don’t like him for his anti-war protests, that wouldn’t be so convincing, so I’m pretending that I knew the guy and that I have the right to criticize him.”

“I didn’t serve with Kerry in action either, and I initially claimed Kerry lied about what happened in Vietnam. But it was my statement that was a lie. I don’t know how anyone would have taken the risks he took in combat just for the glory of running for office. It was a terrible mistake probably for me to sign the affidavit with those words. I’m the one in trouble here. . . . I knew it was wrong. I really don’t know anything first-hand.”

“I didn’t serve with Kerry, but I met him at an officer’s club once. As I recall, he complained that we didn’t get enough air support, and that’s about it. But I’m willing to make him sound like a coward and a traitor because of my political leanings.”

“I kind of served with John Kerry in Vietnam, in that I worked for someone on a different swift boat, and I heard somewhere that Kerry needed a lot of supervision. I’m willing to make that sound as bad as I can.”

“I served on a different boat than Kerry, and I saw from just a few yards away when he was supposedly wounded, and he was lying–he wasn’t wounded and there was no enemy fire, and he ran away. Well, actually, he wasn’t a few yards away, he was a few hundred yards away. And actually, I’m claiming he ran away and there was no enemy fire, which doesn’t make any sense. And the guy whose life he saved and was right there with Kerry completely contradicts me. Hmm. Maybe I’m lying.”

“I treated Kerry for one of his wounds in Vietnam, and I’m here to testify that he clumsily shot himself and then demanded a purple heart. Of course, I’m kind of lying, because I never treated Kerry, and I actually have no idea what really happened, I just claim that I heard something from these two guys, though they both completely deny telling me anything.”

The above, of course, is a mixture of actual quotes, and fictional quotes based upon actual observations (see factcheck.org). And here’s a real veteran:

“My name is John McCain. I think the ad is dishonest and dishonorable. As it is none of these individuals served on the boat Kerry commanded. Many of his crewmates have testified to his courage under fire. I think John Kerry served honorably in Vietnam.”

Furthermore, the group is hardly “partisan.” The initial funding came from a Texas Republican who has given millions of dollars to the GOP; other funds come from another Texas Republican, and leading all of this is John O’Neill, who was hand-picked by the Nixon administration to try to smear and renounce Kerry, and has been gunning for him ever since.

This is the biggest salvo yet in the now months-long campaign to try to smear Kerry, a campaign which started with fake claims of Botox injections, ginned-up photos of Kerry and Jane Fonda, completely fabricated claims that Kerry had an affair with an intern reporter, and a phony claim that Kerry tried to dodge the draft. Now there are shadows of the Nixon dirty-tricks teams; just like the Nixon con men who rode up and down in elevators all day talking loudly about completely fake smear stories about Democrats so people would overhear them and repeat the stories, their modern counterparts are using the Internet, spreading emails that Teresa Heinz Kerry gave money to terrorists and paid for Saddam Hussein’s attorney–and God alone knows what other venomous crap is out there.

This is more than just anti-Kerry advertising, we’re now in the middle of what we all fully expected: an all-out, pedal-to-the-metal dirty-tricks smear campaign against Kerry, orchestrated by the GOP for Bush’s benefit. So far, there hasn’t been much public reaction against Kerry, who has been doing extremely well in battleground state polling, and if we’re lucky, the smear campaign will backfire. But we have to remember, the GOP is extremely good at doing this kind of thing. So we watch (while suspending belief in the commercials and anything coming from the right wing about Kerry), and wait.

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