more evidence pours in that the Swift boats attack
ad is a hoax, the damage has yet to be determined.
Now that Kerry's fighting back, the stunt could
blow up in the Republicans' faces. In the latest
development, William Rood, the other surviving
commander of the Feb. 28, 1969 operation, has
come out on Kerry's side with resounding force.
Meanwhile Ken Cordier, one of the anti-Kerry Swift
boat veterans turns out to have been a Bush campaign
operative, a member of their Vietnam Veterans
Steering Committee until August 19, when his name
disappeared from the Bush campaign site.
removing his name, the Republicans have implicitly
acknowledged that the Swift boat 527 is hardly
some grassroots, independent uprising. Although
the typical voter has already pretty much chosen
sides by attacking the ad, Kerry consolidates
his image with his base. He shows that he's a
tough guy who knows how to throw a punch. He also
forces the Bush campaign to the defensive and
makes them explain their position over and over
again, in the course of which they say things
that further anger Kerry's base, such as Racicot's
of Bush's base will believe the ad no matter what,
but many of the persuadables are going to see
it as a cheap trick that failed. These voters
are the key to the election. If the ad is shown
to be a fake and also another nasty Texas-crony
and Rove fake, the Bush campaign not only loses
a whole line of attack, but is also are wounded
with voters it must get in order to win. Bush's
credibility with persuadables goes down another
big notch. One of his biggest liabilities is that
he's perceived to be a liar. He's also looking
like a bully. Kerry is showing that he's no wimp.
Even when the Swift boat accusers turn to his
repudiation of the Vietnam war they will only
futher demonstrate that his honesty and integrity.
A lot of voters were on Kerry's side of the Vietnam
argument, even if they never heard of him at the
time. Now they get to see what he said in the
most dramatic terms.
it's proven that the Bush campaign people broke
the rules, they won't be able to run the ad at
arm's length any more. Kerry will have shown that
he can kick Bush in the groin and knock him down.
Even if the FEC refuses to take down the ad, Kerry
will have had many new opportunities to show that
it's a fake, and that it is a Bush trick, not
an independent outburst of indignation. When Bush
counter-attacks by challenging the pro-Kerry 527s,
they will be able to argue that they are pure
and innocent. It's kind of difficult to argue
coordination when Kerry is on record as saying
MoveOn was wrong. It's also a little difficult
to explain away a few rich Republicans in Texas
by comparing them to the many thousands of MoveOn
is now throwing a whirlwind of punches. He's showing
that he's a fighter. Bush has little to gain in
this, because no matter what he says, the story
is always that Kerry was under fire in Vietnam
while he was in Alabama being a political playboy.
Maybe Kerry's wounds weren't all that serious,
but he did shed blood for his country, and he
did rescue Jim Rasmussen, and all his superiors
praised him in the richest terms. All the guys
in his boat loved him except for one guy he apparently
reamed out who has carried a grudge ever since.
Are independents really going to take the word
of Bush's surrogates over the men who were there
with him in an aluminum boat under enemy fire?
remember something. Kerry did kill that Viet Cong
kid with the rocket launcher. In the testosterone
environment of today's kick-slam politics, that
is a key fact in his favor. He has shown that
he was a decisive and brutal killer, not a preppie
button pusher sending other people's kids to die
and be maimed. Pacifists may not find that admirable,
but on the unconscious level it has very significant
appeal to the rest of the voting public. Schwarzenegger
is a Hollywood terminator who played the role
all the way to the governor's office. Kerry is
the real thing. Never underestimate the political
value of sadism.
the noise machine just shifted to the Kerry side.
Siegel is a writer and graphic designer whose
work has appeared over the years in Playboy, Best
American Short Stories and many other publications,
most recently in Library of America's "Writing
Posted: August 23, 2004