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Bush: 2. Kerry: 0. CBS: TKO.


Last week, when I wrote a piece saying that President Bush is going to have to thank conservative bloggers when he gets elected, I got a fair amount of cranky mail from Democrats who either didn’t believe the CBS memos were fake or didn’t want to think about the consequences if they were.
One note in particular criticized me for giving the Swift Boat Veterans for “Truth” an easy ride as I outlined how the CBS memos would affect Kerry’s campaign. The vets lied, said my correspondents, and that’s no different from what happened to CBS. When I quoted Howard Dean – “When you say you’ll do anything to win, you’ve already lost” – I was told I was naïve since plenty of politicians will do anything to win.

So my guy’s lying is less offensive than your guy’s lying because they all lie? Now there’s a firm foundation for a law-abiding society. Vote for the liar you like better! No wonder the Bush folks feel free to lie about important things like weapons of mass destruction, preparation for the Iraqi War, and well, what they’re going to do once they’re elected.
But let’s back up and talk about the campaign. The Swift Boat veterans are, indeed, making things up. They’re misremembering, deliberately and on purpose because they want to believe their version of events. Their campaign and their book was funded by Bush’s political allies. They’re making money off that, for sure. But, like it or not, they are hitting a nerve. Upset by the ways in which they have been portrayed in accounts of Kerry’s Vietnam service, they are also — and most Liberals miss this — outraged that Kerry has not been called to account for his criticism of the U.S. as head of Vietnam Vets Against the War. They don’t see how a man who once repudiated the nation’s military leadership can lead.
I don’t agree with their point of view. Repudiating the war wasn’t just good politics, it was the right thing to do at the time and it’s too bad Kerry didn’t get around to doing the same with Iraq until this week. The vets raise a good question, one that many people have about Kerry. During the Democratic Convention, the Kerry campaign deliberately wrapped itself in the Vietnam war – as Bill Whalen so deliciously pointed out on this site – and glossed over the dissension that Kerry created when he returned. As part of that glossing, the campaign didn’t respond to the Swift Boat vets in a timely manner. End result: voters – and I don’t mean you, dear reader, I mean the nice lady with the paperback sitting next to you on the bus or the train – think there’s something a little funny about John Kerry’s Vietnam service. They’re not sure what it is. But it’s out there.
Now comes the growing suspicion — like Swift Boats, carefully nurtured and kept alive by the White House — that Democrats had a hand in hooking disgruntled former Texas National Guardsman Bill Burkett, the man who came up with the forged documents, up with CBS. Once again, the Bush Administration is handling this beautifully; preying on the sentiments of those outside the nation’s power structure: people who don’t understand or like the connection between the two.
With Swift Boats, Bush denounced all ads by 527’s – the organizations that can spend on behalf of a candidate – saying he’d been the subject of attacks and knew how upsetting they could be. After all, he had, in one ad screened by, been compared to Hitler. With the CBS flap, the administration is quietly saying that well, it really would like to know what’s going on because you know, the media can’t be trusted. Well, most voters – not you, again, dear readers – don’t trust reporters. Particularly not now. And it doesn’t help that Joe Lockhart is calling Burkett at CBS’s behest. Doesn’t help at all.
There’s still more to come on this story. I don’t believe that Bill Burkett got to CBS by himself. And he may have concocted the memos but I don’t think it was his own idea. Neither does the White House. And, as it did with Swift Boats, the Bush folks are going to be able to say “look at what they’ve done to us, see how low the Democrats will sink, see how desperate they are” and it’s going to stick.

Share  Posted by Chris Nolan at 11:26 AM | Permalink

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