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Reporting For Duty

By Jesse Taylor
Monday, June 30, 2008 17:54 EDT
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imageIt’s a Newsbusters twofer today!

First, we have solemn concern over Wesley Clark attacking McCain’s war record, at least according to the braintrust at MSNBC.

I admit that I, too, am deeply and gravely concerned over this thing that Wesley Clark did not do. When he honored and verified McCain’s service, and then declared that it wasn’t a qualification for office, I felt for the thousands of POWs who were likewise told by the former Supreme Commander of NATO that they served their country with honor and distinction, yet were not automatically more qualified than those who were not held captive to become president. It reminds me of when I graduated from college, and was told by someone I once respected and trusted that I’d achieved something great and wonderful, but I wasn’t qualified to be a fighter pilot.

A crashed F-22 later, they’re still wrong. Next up, we have the Busties talking about the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and the term “swift boating”. Now, given their wholehearted aversion to slandering the service of troops you might think…

You might think…

Oh, fuck it, you know there’s no consistency.

The New York Times published an article Monday about the anger some Vietnam veterans feel over the vessel they used to serve on, Swift Boat, now being synonymous with “the nastiest of campaign smears.”

In dredging up this issue, Times’ writer Kate Zernike not only misrepresented many of the facts surrounding the claims made by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, but also completely ignored the mainstream media’s role in turning the name of this patrol craft into a political pejorative.

In fact, something the Times conveniently chose not to share with its readers was how one of its own columnists, Frank Rich, wrote one of the earliest and most prominent pieces recharacterizing this nautical term as a smear tactic in his August 21, 2005, article “The Swift Boating of Cindy Sheehan.”

Luckily, Frank Rich’s September 19, 2006 article, “I Totally Gunwaled Your Sister Last Night”, was hidden behind the TimesSelect subscriber wall.

The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth openly and directly assailed a veteran’s honorable service for political gain. They did so in a way that was fundamentally about swift boat service, and their reclamation of it as offended veterans who may or may not have been on boats with Kerry, boats near Kerry, boats that Kerry was once on, or waterslides. They also did so in a way that was fundamentally dishonest, contradictory, and laughably transparent…but also effective. It was their own success at lying that made “swift boating” what it is, much to the detriment of veterans who understand where the blame lays:

This month, a group of veterans who served with Mr. Kerry took up the challenge by Boone Pickens, the billionaire Texas oilman who helped finance the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth in 2004, that he would give $1 million to anyone who could disprove anything in the group’s campaign against Mr. Kerry.

“One of the prime reasons we’ve done this is the way it’s taken on the connotation of political sport versus honoring those that sacrificed everything,” said Fred Short, who was in the gun tub of a Swift boat during one of the firefights that the veterans group said Mr. Kerry had exaggerated.

[...]

Regardless of what they thought of Mr. Kerry, many Swift boat veterans objected to the attacks.

“It was unconscionable,” said Stan Collier, who served as an officer in charge on a boat based in Qui Nhon. “I thought those boys struck a new low.”

Mr. Collier considers himself a conservative and did not agree with Mr. Kerry’s politics, but he voted for him to protest the Swift boat campaign. “We’ve all been attributed to the sleaziness that those guys assigned to Kerry,” he said. “I think we’ve all been demeaned.”

These veterans are oddly concerned with the political group that made swift boating a political hot-button issue, and not columnists who referred to them months and even years past the end of the 2004 campaign. I think their service jackets need another look, myself. Is Swift Boat Veterans Against Swift Boat Veterans registered yet…?

And, from the Busties:

As such, Ms. Zernike, if you really are angered by the pejorative use of Swift Boat, and want to help the veterans referred to in your article return the term to one “[connoting] service with honor,” why don’t you call on your fellow liberal journalists to cease and desist from using it this despicable way?

I completely agree with this, and offer the following compromise: instead of calling them the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, I will agree to call them the Self-Identified Pedophiles Against Parents On Playgrounds. Whatever shorthand follows should honor actual swift boat veterans and allow them to reclaim their proper honor.

I like compromising.

Jesse Taylor
Jesse Taylor
Jesse Taylor is an attorney and blogger from the great state of Ohio. He founded Pandagon in July, 2002, and has also served on the campaign and in the administration of former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland. He focuses on politics, race, law and pop culture, as well as the odd personal digression when the mood strikes.
 
 
 
 
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