08/20/2004: Thought for the Day:
The negative phase of the general election started early this year, so the traditional late-summer moral descent is taking us one step deeper, to the personally nasty. "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth"—their Web site calls them Swiftvets—say Kerry lied about Vietnam. MoveOn PAC says the Swiftvets, with Bush's complicity, lied about Kerry lying.
The Swiftvets' allegations are deliberately blurred. Their ad starts with John Edwards urging people to talk to "the men who served with" Kerry. Several Swiftvets then appear on the screen, saying they "served with" Kerry. This is a semantic trick. Edwards is talking about crewmates who, at one time or another, accompanied Kerry on his six-man boat. The Swiftvets served with Kerry only in the sense that they manned other boats in Vietnam. It's a bit like saying you spent the night with Bill Clinton because you were on Martha's Vineyard, too.
Thirteen vets make 15 statements in the ad. Let's discard the unfalsifiable ones: "You could not count on John Kerry," "John Kerry is no war hero," "John Kerry has not been honest," "John Kerry cannot be trusted," "He is lying about his record," and "He lacks the capacity to lead." There's no way to fact-check these because they cite no facts.
Next, let's distinguish Kerry's statements about what he did from his statements about what others did. Most of the Swiftvets' material complaints address the latter: "John Kerry has not been honest about what happened in Vietnam," "John Kerry betrayed the men and women he served with in Vietnam," "He dishonored his country ... he most certainly did," "He betrayed all his shipmates ... he lied before the Senate." Phrases such as "what happened in Vietnam," "dishonored his country," "lied before the Senate," and "the men and women he served with" (there were no women on Kerry's boat) give away that these claims have nothing to do with Kerry's service. They're about his allegations afterward that American forces participated in war crimes.
Len on 08.20.04 @ 05:54 AM CST