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Friday, August 20, 2004

The "new JFK" has been stung by the latest Swift Boat Vets ad. His campaign has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission about it. In addition, I could have sworn I saw a Drudge banner saying that Kerry was attempting to prevent the publication of the Swift Boat Vets' book, Unfit for Command, but I couldn't find it again when I looked.
Update: Aha! I did see it. Via Outside the Beltway quoting Drudge:

The Kerry campaign calls on a publisher to 'withdraw book' written by group of veterans, claiming veterans are lying about Kerry's service in Vietnam and operating as a front organization for Bush. Kerry campaign has told that the publisher of UNFIT FOR COMMAND is 'retailing a hoax'... 'No publisher should want to be selling books with proven falsehoods in them,' Kerry campaign spokesman Chad Clanton tells the online mag... Developing...
The most recent ad, which drew the FEC complaint from Kerry's campaign, shows clips of Kerry's 1972 Senate testimony in which he repeated charges that war crimes and atrocities were routinely committed by US soldiers in Vietnam. One of the vets in the ad states that Kerry was making those charges himself. He wasn't. He was repeating the claims of others.

I think its fair to say that Kerry does not believe those claims now. If he didn't believe the charges when he repeated them in his Senate testimony, that's a whole different thing, involving false testimony to Congress, so I want to think he believed the charges then. But Kerry would be entirely unelectable if he said he still believed those charges today, and he knows it. (He would be seen as Howard Dean, except boring when speechifying.) So I think he would not be running at all if he still believed the claims to be true.

In addition, let's assume for purposes of discussion that the Swift Boat Vets are dead wrong in their claims. All of them. The Kerry campaign has admitted that the Swift Boat Vets are correct about his Christmas in Cambodia embroidery, but leave that aside. The one thing I won't assume is that the Swift Boat Vets know their claims to be false. Just as I won't believe that Kerry repeated claims he knew to be false before Congress until I'm provided with some really strong evidence to the contrary, I won't believe the Swift Boat Vets are making charges they know to be false without similarly strong evidence. And despite the efforts of the the Washington Post, the LA Times and the NY Times, that evidence has not yet been provided. (Registration is required for each of those newspaper sites. Go to for help getting in without the annoying spam.)

Okay. Does that mean that Kerry should not be called out for having repeated what turned out to be malicious lies which were unimaginably hurtful to veterans, generally, (and POWs in particular) and damaged this country's ultimately fruitless effort to prevent a communist takeover of South Vietnam? If Kerry can repeat malicious, damaging lies for political gain with impunity, why cannot the Swift Boat Vets?

Just askin, is all.

Is Kerry's conduct more than 35 years ago during the war in Vietnam relevant to the election? Well, Kerry chose to make his Vietnam service the centerpiece of his campaign. Karl Rove did not shove a gun in his back and force him to line up Vietnam vets onstage at the convention and "report for duty." Kerry clearly believes that his Vietnam service qualifies him to be President, so his Vietnam service is fair game for comment by the other side.
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