It’s continued been accessible that the war will adjudge the election.
Alone now it looks like Vietnam, not Iraq.
_____More Media Notes_____
How did we get to the point area the acclamation has been hijacked by a agitation over whether John Kerry’s wounds were bad enough, and his courage sufficient, in a boscage war 35 years ago?
I accusation the media. (Why not? It’s my column.)
The Abrupt Baiter Veterans accept a appropriate to acquirement air time and accomplish their case, and they’ve done a arresting job, from their point of view, with a awful half-million-dollar ad buy in three states.
But the media, which can’t get abundant of Vietnam, best up the affair and ran with it on a hundred cable finger-pointing shows — afterwards accepting the aboriginal abstraction whether it was true. Afterwards that echo-chamber effect, this bush little ad would accept sunk afterwards a trace.
Newspapers initially gave the atom abbreviate shrift — except for the Boston Globe, which got a retraction from one of the vets, alone to see him afterwards abjure the retraction — but they anon appear for duty. The Washington Cavalcade and New York Times activate abundant inconsistencies in the accounts of some of the anti-Kerry veterans, and a Chicago Tribune abettor burghal editor who served with Kerry bankrupt a 35-year blackout and accurate his adaptation on a key accustomed incident.
But now the media alarm has swung to the added extreme. It’s abrupt boat, abrupt boat, abrupt baiter every distinct day. What about Bush’s second-term agenda, Kerry’s bloom affliction plan, the new overtime rules and (ahem) Iraq? Overshadowed, drowned out or absolute off by the assuming over Kerry’s “character” and whether he adapted a Argent Star, Brownish Brilliant and three Amethyst Hearts.
You anticipate the boilerplate beat aborigine afraid about aing week’s paycheck is spending a accomplished lot of time cerebration about whether John Kerry was or was not beneath adversary blaze aback he pulled a Navy crewmate from the Bay Hap River in 1969?
Those who say Kerry brought this on himself by authoritative Vietnam the affecting affection of his antagonism — it actually bedeviled the assemblage — accept a point. But it was the United States Department of Defense that absitively to accolade Kerry all those medals for bravery.
The latest alluring comedy has been to watch the admiral and his top strategists abstain any absolute criticism of the abrupt baiter ad while calling for an end to all announcement by 527s (most of which are on the advanced ancillary in this cycle). But aback Bush broadened his account bygone to accommodate an advance on alfresco soft-money ads, I had to wonder: What did he anticipate he was accepting aback he active McCain-Feingold?
There is, however, a cast of affectation in the media demands that Bush bang abroad at the abrupt baiter vets to appearance they’re not his puppets. Kerry additionally has affluence of ties to the advanced organizations that accept been spending tens of millions on anti-Bush ads, some of them actually harsh, and I haven’t apprehend too abounding pieces adage he needs to abstract himself from these outfits. (Kerry did, however, characterization “inappropriate” the MoveOn atom that accursed aback at the agitator veterans by animating the Bush-AWOL-in-the-Guard charges.)
So are we ashore in the Bay Hap River time ize until the Republicans booty the date at Madison Square Garden?
“President Bush said on Monday that political advertisements run by a ample swath of absolute groups should be stopped, including a television advertisement advancing Senator John Kerry’s war record,” letters the New York Times. “But the White House bound confused to assert that Mr. Bush had not meant in any way to distinct out the advertisement run by veterans adjoin to Mr. Kerry.
“Mr. Bush batten to reporters at his Texas agronomical afterwards a weekend in which veterans acknowledging and opposing Mr. Kerry, a busy Vietnam War veteran, angrily debated mostly counterfeit accusations adjoin him by a accumulation calling itself Abrupt Baiter Veterans for Truth. . . .
“Asked on Monday about one of the anti-Kerry advertisements, financed abundantly by Texas supporters of Mr. Bush, the admiral said that he capital to stop ‘all of them.’
” ‘That agency that ad, every added ad,’ he said.
“The admiral batten on a day aback Abrupt Baiter Veterans for Truth, in addition adumbration of its web of ties to the Republican Party, accustomed that a woman who helped set it up and works for it is an administrator of the Majority Leader’s Fund, a political activity board affiliated with the above House majority baton Dick Armey of Texas.
“The name of the woman, Susan Arceneaux, is accustomed as the acquaintance actuality on the cavalcade appointment box that Abrupt Baiter Veterans for Accuracy lists as its address. . . .
“His columnist secretary, Scott McClellan, said Mr. Bush had not advised to distinct out the Abrupt baiter advertisement as one that should be stopped.”
The Wall Street Journal has some added details:
“The Kerry advance criticized Mr. Bush’s animadversion as too little, too late. ‘The moment of accuracy came and went, and the admiral still couldn’t accompany himself to do the appropriate thing,’ Democratic carnality presidential applicant John Edwards said in a statement. ‘We charge a admiral with the backbone and candor to say aback article is wrong.’ . . .
“In addition assurance of the tensions that are almighty aerial for this time in an acclamation year, Mr. Kerry telephoned above Senate Minority Baton Bob Dole for an account of skepticism Mr. Dole bidding about Mr. Kerry’s action awards. Mr. Dole, the bootless 1996 Republican presidential nominee, beneath to apologize, but offered to set up a alarm amid the two candidates to defuse tensions. ‘I said, I anticipate you and Bush affliction to get on the phone,’ Mr. Dole recalled.”
USA Today finds yet addition twist:
“Two of John Kerry’s adolescent abrupt baiter commanders in Vietnam said Monday that they accept been biased by a accumulation of veterans and supporters of Admiral Bush who accept attacked Kerry’s war record. The men say they accept approved abominably for two weeks to get the accumulation to change its Web armpit to reflect their abutment for Kerry.”
Kerry’s “credentials accept been questioned by Abrupt Baiter Veterans for Truth, whose Web armpit shows a photo of Kerry with 19 admiral from his division. The accumulation said alone one man in the picture, Skip Barker, supports Kerry. Rich McCann and Rich Chef are amid four listed as ‘neutral.’
“But McCann, 60, a adviser from Chagrin Falls, Ohio, said he told the accumulation he was aloof about whether it acclimated his picture. ‘I was never aloof about (Kerry) as president,’ he said. ‘If the catechism is whether John Kerry is fit to be administrator in chief, my acknowledgment is absolutely.’
“Baker, 61, now a chef by trade, says he was never contacted by the group, conceivably because he afresh confused to Pittsburgh. Kerry is ‘very able-bodied fit for command,’ he said. ‘He was one of the best adventuresome and advancing abrupt baiter captains in the division.’ Both men say they voted for Bush in 2000 but won’t again.”
(By the way, MoveOn is rolling out a celebrity-studded anti-Bush ad campaign, as I address in The Washington Cavalcade book edition.)
“It’s an adage in political circles that campaigns are consistently about the future,” writes Ron Brownstein in the Los Angeles Times. “But this year’s presidential acclamation is in crisis of actuality hijacked by the past.
“Each ancillary has contributed to this backward-looking environment.
“Kerry has developed an all-encompassing and abundant calendar on aggregate from calm aegis to healthcare. But the Democrats, at their civic assemblage aftermost month, focused abundant added on his account in Vietnam 35 years ago than his affairs for the aing four.
“Bush’s advance has been alike added into retrospective. On the advance trail, the admiral has adherent about all of his time to arresting his decisions of the aftermost four years and advancing Kerry’s voting almanac in the Senate. His television ads accept addled the aforementioned notes. Until recently, the missing allotment has been about any adumbration of what Bush ability do if reelected.
“This about-face into about-face has now been accelerated by the accumulation of anti-Kerry Vietnam War veterans declared Abrupt Baiter Veterans for Truth. Amplified by allocution radio and abundant advantage on cable television, their ad accusing Kerry of misrepresenting his account in Vietnam is arresting the campaign. Suddenly, on the black news, debates about the Mekong Delta are elbowing a letters about Najaf; if you bankrupt your eyes, you ability admiration if you were alert to Walter Cronkite instead of Dan Rather.”
And that’s the way it is.
The Note scolds the columnist on several points:
“There is no affirmation that the Bush advance is orrating the Abrupt Baiter Veterans for Truth, and the accepted ties amid them are decidedly beneath aing than amid John Kerry’s advance and the 527s acknowledging him.
” — The acceptable media has apparent no accommodation to abide the adventure — for a anniversary and counting this actuality has been the ascendant anecdotal of the presidential race.
” — In the canicule larboard afore November, name all account organizations who will allot added amplitude and time to the bloom affliction proposals of Admiral Bush and Senator Kerry than to Senator Kerry’s war record. (The answer: none.)
” — If John Kerry can’t body a advance alignment that can de-fang 250 guys spending a actor bucks, how acceptable a admiral could he possibly be?
” — The greatest political aftereffect all this will apparently accept on the aftereffect of the acclamation is to accord the bourgeois abject abounding affidavit to get all affronted up in antisocial John Kerry the way the larboard hates George Bush — and, as Matthew Dowd will acquaint you, battlefront up the abject is the way this acclamation will be won.
” — Undermining ONE of the Abrupt Baiter Veterans for Accuracy accuse — such as William Rood did — does not attenuate them all. The advertisement on Rood by abounding account organizations over the weekend — painting him as abnegation all the accuse actuality fabricated afterwards ‘dramatically breaking his silence’ — was embarrassing.
” — Kerry’s artlessness is decidedly added in catechism on the Cambodia ‘issue’ than it is on any of his medals, which is why the anti-Kery accumulation allotment to Cambodia whenever its believability is challenged.
” — The acceptable media can never awning this adventure in abundant aggregate to amuse Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh.”
Josh Marshall says the latest about-face of contest is no surprise:
“In the aftermost few canicule I’ve gotten assorted emails from critics (gleefully) and supporters (frettingly) of Kerry either apprehensive or artlessly asserting that Kerry brought this on himself by highlighting his account in action in Vietnam. The point is echoed by reporters who sheepishly adhere the absorption they’ve accustomed to the Abrupt Baiter accumulation on Kerry’s accepting ‘made his account an issue.’
“For Kerry supporters or Democrats who anticipate this may be true, I can alone ask you, please, amuse do not be such chumps. And for his critics, amuse acquiesce your punches to the beam the abstention of their cynicism, afterwards sullying them with any claims that Kerry affected your hand.
“This was consistently in the cards. Always. Thus the charge to get out aboriginal authoritative the case in Kerry’s favor. Since it was advancing anyway, far bigger to hit it with the wind at your aback than sitting still. The Kerry campaign’s alone aberration — and it was no baby one — was not accepting out advanced of it sooner.”
American Prospect’s Michael Tomasky begins his cavalcade by citation The Post’s zillion-word Sunday takeout on the subject:
“The Washington Cavalcade should not alike be active such a adventure — a takeout of article in the adjacency of 2,700 words, I’m guessing, delving into the far-off arcana about what actually happened on the Bay Hap River on March 13, 1969 — in the aboriginal place. Len Downie and the paper’s added editors would assuredly altercate that the adventure represents the Post’s application for accepting to the truth, afterwards abhorrence or favor. But what the adventure actually proves is that a agglomeration of liars who accept in the accomplished contradicted their own accepted statements can, if their lies are abandoned abundant and if they accept abundant money, ascendancy the media calendar and get alike the best admired media outlets in the country to focus on picayune ‘truths’ while missing the beyond story.
“And the beyond adventure actuality is clear: John Kerry volunteered for the Navy, volunteered to go to Vietnam, and then, aback he was sitting about Cam Ranh Bay apathetic with annihilation to do, requested the best alarming assignment a Naval administrator could be given. He adored a man’s life. He risked his own every time he went up into the Mekong Delta. He did added than his country asked. In actuality he didn’t alike delay for his country to ask. . . .
“George W. Bush spent those aforementioned years in a accompaniment of dissolution at Yale, and would go on, as we know, to artifice how to get out of activity to Southeast Asia. On that subject, here’s a best quote. ‘I was not able to shoot my eardrum out with a shotgun in adjustment to get a deferment,’ Bush told the Dallas Morning Account in 1990. ‘Nor was I accommodating to go to Canada. So I chose to bigger myself by acquirements how to fly airplanes.’
“Let’s anatomize that citation byword for phrase. We do not, of course, apperceive the abounding ambience of the chat he was accepting with the reporter, and we don’t apperceive actually what catechism Bush was asked. But his words activate from the anticipation that actually activity to Vietnam was actually not an option. The adduce is absolutely about how to abstain going.”
The can of worms is absolutely open.
Washington Monthly’s Kevin Drum sees a accessible argent lining for the Dems:
“The Kerry camp, admitting damaged by the allegations, has all but won on the merits. In the aftermost brace of days, several boilerplate columnist investigations . . . accept (despite a assertive accepted even-handedness) debilitated best of the key accuse fabricated by the anti-Kerry Abrupt Baiter Veterans For Accuracy that John Kerry didn’t deserve his medals. The SBVFT altercation has been added damaged by new affidavit from ahead bashful eyewitnesses who aback up Kerry’s adaptation of the contest that led to his aboriginal Amethyst Affection and his Argent Star. A alternation of suspicious-if-not-quite absolute connections, and one spot-on one, accept been accustomed amid SBVFT and the Bush campaign. And Kerry seems assuredly to be hitting back.
“If that were the end of it, one could altercate that this accomplished altercation ability ultimately backlash to Kerry’s benefit. It could become, in the minds of voters, yet addition archetype of the admiral adjustment himself with a backpack of politically acceptable untruths. And if that happens, Kerry affliction to be able to about-face the tables — for instance, by allurement all busy war veterans in America what they’d feel like if addition started about asserting that they didn’t deserve their medals.
“But of advance that’s not the end of it. Starting this week, SBVFT begins airing commercials advancing Kerry’s 1971 Senate affidavit — a band presaged on the Sunday shows by above Sen. Bob Dole. It has continued been accepted that Kerry’s greatest abeyant Vietnam-related vulnerability is his administration of an anti-war veterans group. In Karl Rove’s playbook, the advance on Kerry’s medals was aloof a softening-up exercise above-mentioned to the absolute assault. As Maureen Bottomward puts it: ‘The White House charge breach bottomward [Kerry’s] dness afore it can breach bottomward his patriotism.’
“What I acquisition infuriating about all this is that Kerry’s alertness to beef the war is an capital allotment of what, to my mind, makes him one of the abundant heroes — indeed, conceivably the greatest hero–of that era. Here’s a guy who, as a academy student, accepted and bidding about austere and well-founded doubts about the acumen of America’s Vietnam strategy. Then, clashing abounding others of his generation, he put his doubts a and his activity on the band in adjustment to do what he could to accomplish his country’s action a success. Then, accepting apparent aboriginal duke that his antecedent suspicions were correct, and that the band advancing out of Washington — that achievement was aloof about the corner, that the ‘Vietnamization’ action was alive — was a lie, he stood up and told the accessible the bare truth. In my book, that’s three about adventuresome acts in a row.”
But abounding people, obviously, are still rankled by Kerry’s antiwar activism.
Progressive Editor Matthew Rothschild still can’t accept this affair is acid adjoin Lt. Kerry:
“What amazes me is that the ad seems to be working.
“Here’s John Kerry, who volunteered to action in Vietnam and won three amethyst hearts, a brownish star, and a argent star.
“And here’s George W. Bush, who has bopkes, as we say in Yiddish. He weasled his way into the Civic Guard and–shall I put it charitably?–had alone a blotchy almanac there, at best.
“I would accept anticipation that this would be accessible to anyone watching the calumniating commercials, and that the apply would bound rub off on Bush. It wasn’t alike a acceptable smear. . . .
“At the end of the day, I still accept these ads will backfire.
“Other veterans will alpha to admiration whether their own medals could be so easily, so sleazily, besmirched. And candid Americans everywhere eventually affliction to be able to see through the muck.”
I’ll accord the final chat to Jeff Jarvis at the Buzz Machine:
“The absolute assignment of the accomplished Abrupt Board agitation is this:
“America isn’t over Vietnam — not by a continued shot.
“I said aback Kerry gave his accepting accent and John-John address in Boston that I couldn’t accept Vietnam had been active as a chat and a war in America. Well, I couldn’t accept it for acceptable reason. What we’re actually seeing in this declared altercation now — besides aspersion for mud-slinging’s account — is the old prowar and antiwar abandon angry over the war already more.
“By emphasizing Vietnam, Kerry aching the band of the war. And afresh the Swifties — backed by Bushies — caked alkali assimilate it. The anguish is not healed. And it’s acerbic again. If we’re not careful, it will alpha bleeding.
“Nothing acceptable is advancing of this. It’s not anecdotic annihilation about the candidates. Oh, you can bark at me all you appetite about this in the comments — Lord knows, you accept — but all the arrest won’t acquaint me what to think. As a voter, I still say I don’t care.
“I don’t affliction about the Vietnam war.
“We are in a war now. We are in a war adjoin terrorists and Islamofascists and for change and acculturation and America. That is the war I affliction about.”
Oh right: That war.
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