Why the Swift Boat Hoax Still Matters!
(Eric Boehlert, author of the new book "Lapdogs," writes an exclusive piece for C&L. Hopefully, he will become a regular contributor on the site.)
Sunday's New York Times revisited the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth attacks against Sen. John Kerry and highlighted how Kerry is still working hard to clear his name and knock down any questions that remain about his stellar service in Vietnam. Kerry's not the only one nursing wounds from the Swifty attacks. For lots of people the phrase 'Swift Boat' has become synonymous with 'Florida Recount'; a dreadful, hard-to-relive chapter in campaign history, in which Republicans played bare-knuckle hardball and the press pretty much let them get away with it.
I devote an entire chapter in my new book: "Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush" to the Swift Boat hoax, not only detailing the absurdity of the allegations, but to chronicle how the press walked away from its traditional role as campaign referee and simply threw up its hands, announcing it was impossible to tell which side--Kerry or the Swifties--was telling the truth. That, despite the fact the Swifties stepped forward 35-years after-the-fact and without a single military document to back up their wild claims. (Every U.S. Navy record backed up Kerry's version of events.)
Thanksfully, over months and years the Swifties' most serious charges of faked wounds and bogus medals have proven to be fictitious; a political dirty trick. Yet thanks in large part to the press' initial timidity during those dog days of summer 2004, the Swifties remain lurking today, waiting for the next opportunity to pounce. For instance, Swifty ring leader and chronic fabricator John O'Neill recently sent out a nationwide fund-raising letter on behalf of a Vermont Republican running for the U.S. Senate. Just this week the Associated Press, profiling James Webb and his effort to unseat Virginia Republican Sen. George Allen, noted the issue of military service could become a campaign issue. (Webb was a decorated Marine; Allen never served.) The AP reported, "A top Allen adviser, Christopher J. LaCivita, was the mastermind behind Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, a group of Vietnam veterans who made unsubstantiated allegations challenging Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry's record of wartime heroism."
And we now know that right after the 2004 victory Bush's brother Jeb personally thanked the factually-challenged Swifties, gushing in a January 2005 letter, "I simply cannot express in words how much I value their willingness to stand up against John Kerry." ...please click here to read the entire article