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Kerry throws Bush and the Vets to the ice

Well, not exactly.  In fact, he didn’t even mention hockey once-- the sport’s too furrin, I guess.  He actually opened with “more than thirty years ago, I learned an important lesson-- when you’re under attack, the best thing to do is turn your boat into the attacker. That’s what I intend to do today.” This suggests he’s been reading Kenneth Baer’s timely advice ("as Kerry discovered more than three decades ago, sometimes the only way to survive an attack is to steer straight into enemy fire") rather than mine.  But I suppose that’s all right.  What’s important is the thought.  And it’s a good thought.

More than thirty years ago, I learned an important lesson-- when you’re under attack, the best thing to do is turn your boat into the attacker. That’s what I intend to do today.

Over the last week or so, a group called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth has been attacking me. Of course, this group isn’t interested in the truth-- and they’re not telling the truth. They didn’t even exist until I won the nomination for president.

But here’s what you really need to know about them.  They’re funded by hundreds of thousands of dollars from a Republican contributor out of Texas. They’re a front for the Bush campaign. And the fact that the President won’t denounce what they’re up to tells you everything you need to know-- he wants them to do his dirty work.

I like that part.  Now that’s why Kerry denounced moveon’s reply ad, folks-- so that he could take the case directly to Mr. Bush.

Thirty years ago, official Navy reports documented my service in Vietnam and awarded me the Silver Star, the Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts. Thirty years ago, this was the plain truth. It still is. And I still carry the shrapnel in my leg from a wound in Vietnam.

As firefighters you risk your lives everyday. You know what it’s like to see the truth in the moment. You’re proud of what you’ve done-- and so am I.

And that’s why I hold Life and Death in my hands like a savage gift . . . no, wait, he didn’t say that.  Sorry.  I got carried away.

Of course, the President keeps telling people he would never question my service to our country. Instead, he watches as a Republican-funded attack group does just that. Well, if he wants to have a debate about our service in Vietnam, here is my answer: “Bring it on.”

Oh, not “bring it on” again.  But I like the touch of “our service in Vietnam.” That would be a really short debate.  Sort of like a “debate” about how many Senators’ lives “we” saved by using the Heimlich maneuver.

I’m not going to let anyone question my commitment to defending America-- then, now, or ever.  And I’m not going to let anyone attack the sacrifice and courage of the men who saw battle with me.

That was what we wanted to hear, big John.  And remember, George Bush has to wear high heels just to look you directly in the eye.

And let me make this commitment today:  their lies about my record will not stop me from fighting for jobs, health care, and our security? the issues that really matter to the American people.

The situation in Iraq is a mess. That is the President’s responsibility and he owes the American people an answer.

Good, now we’ve moved away from answering hypothetical questions about that ludicrous Senate vote two years ago, and we’re saying direct things about Iraq with simple syntax.  Kerry’s staff really are reading the lefty blogs, aren’t they?  Good for them.

America is on track to lose more jobs than it’s gained under George Bush and he supports a tax code that rewards companies for shipping jobs overseas.  He owes the American people an answer.

Health care costs have exploded out of control. The President has done nothing and he owes the American people an answer.

The middle class is paying a bigger share of America’s tax burden. The President needs to answer to the American people why that is fair.

Unfortunately, those in the White House are coming from a different place than you and I.  They see things a little differently than you and I.  They tell us that today, when it comes to the issues that matter most, we’re getting the job done.

Great.  Now say it again, fifty or sixty times, in Ohio, Missouri, Wisconsin, Colorado, New Mexico, and-- just to keep up the forechecking-- Virginia and Tennessee.

Thanks to Atrios for the link and the heads-up.

ADDENDUM:  Those of you interested more in matters of Kerry’s statecraft than in the hurlyburly of rhetorical posturing are kindly invited to read this timely item by David Sirota and Jonathan Baskin.  On Kerry’s takedown of BCCI, which involved the big guy throwing an entire financial institution to the ice.

Posted by on 08/19 at 07:30 AM
  1. Michael, I realize that Bush is not innocent of a great deal of unseemly martial posturing, but don’t you find the argument over Vietnam-era heroism to be irrelevant to the tasks of the presidency?  Why must Kerry make ostentatious references to his military service quite so often?  I know, to show up Bush as a wimp.  But as a tasteless -if only implied - ad hominem does it not invite these equally asinine reprisals?  Should I care who could take who in a fistfight or who has to wear heels to look who in the eye?

    Posted by Vincent  on  08/19  at  09:53 AM
  2. Hey Michael!
    Neely intothe corner. Samuelsson is down! Neely shoots!

    Posted by  on  08/19  at  10:18 AM
  3. Ordinarily, Vincent, I’d agree with you that the martial posturing is irrelevant, which is why I thought Ken Layne’s take on this was so witty.  But the Swift Boat Vets are, in fact, part of the right-wing slime machine-- and they have to be addressed, refuted, and delegitimated, or we’re looking at four years of W. that will make these past four years look like a casual warmup.

    As for whether Kerry’s remarks are “asinine” or “ad hominem,” we can disagree reasonably, perhaps.  “Bush has failed to denounce these ads” is not actually ad hominem.  But I have a little theory about the inappropriate invocation of the “ad hominem” fallacy that I’ll save for another occasion.

    Posted by  on  08/19  at  10:21 AM
  4. Also, I think Charles Pierce’s argument here is irrefutable.  Thanks, Charles.

    Posted by  on  08/19  at  10:22 AM
  5. They started the attacks on Kerry’s record, now they have to deal with his response. Their actions demanded some sort of response.

    OF COURSE this is all a giant distraction from the substantive problems of running a government. But being the voice of reason—the one that gets shouted down by the unreasonable mob—won’t get Kerry elected.

    People appreciate the voice of reason. But it’s the framing of emotional issues into simple statements, then repeating them ad nauseum, that undecided or jaded people really respond to in election years. Unfortunate but true.

    Take the fight to the mudslingers on your terms, I say—sure you’ll get muddy, but there comes a time to do it.

    Having never played hockey, I can’t come up with a detailed analogy. American football version: when you see a weakness, attack it, but do it intelligently, and at the right moment.

    Posted by jeff  on  08/19  at  10:24 AM
  6. Not to be overlooked:  the biggest funders of the Swift Boat ads are Bush buddies and funders here in Texas.

    Also, for those who have the August 23 issue of the New Yorker to hand (living as I do w-a-a-a-y out in the middle of nowhere, it gets to me about the time you’re getting your Aug. 30 issue), both the Nicholas Lemann opener on the Committee on the Present Danger and Gourevitch’s full article on Errol Morris’ ads for Move On are fascinating and, in the second case, very satisfying reading. 

    Lemann’s piece is interesting for a lot of reasons—the history of the Committee, the Committee as hidey-hole for the neo-cons, the question of the need for a draft, the foreign policy prospects of a Bush second term (KA-BOOM!) and how far away the Elysian fields may be.  After reading that, a look behind the scenes of the Move On ads may cheer you up a little.

    Posted by  on  08/19  at  02:38 PM
  7. I like the grammar of “he owes the American people an answer.”

    Bush is strangely mute when it comes to the concept of explaining his reasoning, or unpacking conclusions. Cynically, one could say it’s because there is no reasoning there. But more strategically, this Refusal to Answer the Question (RAQ!)—which I think many Americans have recognized—is a quiet GWB weakness that Kerry is tapping into. Gore never found a way to do it without seeming pompous. 

    Claiming that there is a kind of debt or deficit *of language* is clever, and more effective than references to the ballooning deficit or other economic stats, which always seem to provoke yawns no matter how damning their truth. 

    To Kerry: by all means, Attack Bush’s RAQ! The American people demand nuances now!

    Posted by Amardeep  on  08/19  at  03:10 PM
  8. Not so much, Amardeep, that there is no reason there, but that the reasoning is not his and he doesn’t have sufficient grasp of the details of neo-con strategy to speak in public about it.  He’s not stupid (nor infantile, see NYT op-ed page, 8/19) just a deft con artist who’s wholly without relevant experence and background… and intellectual depth.

    Posted by  on  08/20  at  03:41 AM
  9. John O’neil vs Thomas Oliphant

    Saw it last night on Lehrer. Oliphant was condescending, smarmy with a petulant, fey demeanor. He came off bad, contrasted with O’Neil, who was straightforward, polite, solid, as one would expect from an Anapolis grad.

    Oliphant undermined Kerry, with his feigned exasperation at O’Neil’s lack of understanding of “basic journalism principles”. Oliphant kept going on about we can only take primary evidence as certainly reliable, eg. Kerry’s citation and what the citations says. Ok, fair enought. Let’s see the action report on Kerry’s Bronze star - the one in question. O’neil says there were 5 boats, one hit a mine, Kerry hightailed it outt there, while gunning the engine Rasumssen fell overboard, Kerry cirled back and “dramatically rescued Rasmussen”. Oneil claims there was not gunfire, no VC, nobody on either shore, infact the boats spent a leisurely and long afternoon milling about the stricken boat trying to make it seaworth to tow back. If the action report says they were out there for several hours working on the boat this would completely undermine Kerry’s claim that they were under fire. They wouldn’t have spent hours milling about if they were under fire. If they were underfie there would have been engagement or retreat, not idleness. What does the action report say. C’mon Tom Oliphant, Journalism 101, get to the source.

    Posted by  on  08/20  at  10:28 AM
  10. Interesting: must be liberal bias, because I found O’Neil smug, blustering, and evasive.

    Posted by  on  08/20  at  12:08 PM
  11. Daniel—I doubt Annapolis is all that proud of O’Neill!

    Here’s a source you might want to check out:  http://www.nytimes.com/2004/08/20/politics/campaign/20swift.html

    Posted by  on  08/20  at  01:29 PM
  12. So much for slamming bullying opponent into the ice, Kerry goes whining off to the ref. Baaaah. They are not playing fair.

    Seriously, now is a chance to move on. Bush should send an ambassador to Kerry’s camp. Hey, we have drawn some blood. You don’t like it too much. Ok,here is the deal. You can talk all you want about your vietnam service and we can talk all we want about Bush’s guard service (It won’t be much), but if the Kerry campaign or its surrogates: Moveon.org, Tom Harkin, Ted Kennedy, George Soros, Hollywood, Bruce Springsteen, John Fogarty, Terry Mcauliffe, Bill Clinton, James Carville...you get the picutre, let’s loose even once about the Presiden’t service as being anything less than honorable, then we too will unleash our surrogates once again.

    Simple solution, isn’t it? Will Kerry take up the challenge?

    Posted by  on  08/21  at  08:29 AM
  13. Ha!  You wish!  That Springsteen thing hurts a bit, don’t it!

    My idea of fun would be to trot out, at a rate of one a day, supporters of Bush who, well… who many of the Republican Party wish were kept under wraps.  Republicans have a lot of rotten wood keeping their boat afloat.  We should be revealing it, plank by plank. 

    Posted by  on  08/21  at  10:24 AM
  14. Springsteen! Treacley Bombast. About 5 good songs. John Fogarty hurts, but 95% of those under 40 don’t even know who he is.

    I love it. Through McCain-Feingold the professional pols (right and left) thought they could control the debate, but these indepednent organizations have been emboldened, and just may not be taking orders from anyone. Good. Tell me, do you support restricting the speech of such organizations? For myself, I condemn any efforts (by Republican as well as democrat) to restrict political speech.

    Posted by  on  08/21  at  01:21 PM
  15. Want the after action report?  Here it is:


    And you can say what you want about Kerry, but keep yer dirty mitts off Springsteen.

    Posted by  on  08/22  at  11:58 AM





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