Conservatives have long railed against media turning 'swiftboat' into pejorative or 'hate term'
As former President George W. Bush attempts to salvage his tarnished legacy, Fox News Radio host John Gibson has eagerly joined in the effort to rehabilitate the previous administration's image.
Gibson, the author of Hating America and The War on Christmas, has a new book out titled How the Left Swiftboated America: The Liberal Media Conspiracy to Make You Think George W. Bush Was the Worst President in History.
In order to make his point, however, Gibson has to suggest that the Swift Boat Veterans, whose attacks on Democratic candidate John Kerry helped Bush win re-election in the midst of an unpopular war, were unconscionable liars.
"They were lying through their teeth and they got away with it," Gibson told the hosts of Fox & Friends on Wednesday morning -- referring not to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth but to Democrats and liberals who have portrayed Bush as incompetent and indifferent.
It took Fox host Steve Doocy to make the connection explicit. "They looked at the game plan that the Republicans and the Swiftboaters did back against Kerry," Doocy suggested, "and they said, 'Okay, it worked.'"
"The formula is demean, ridicule ... and repeat it as often as possible until people believe it," Gibson agreed. "It worked, and they're going to do it again." He added that "the left wanted to kick Bush around about Hurricane Katrina because it wasn't enough to just kick him around about the war."
Back in August 2004, Gibson appeared to have a far more positive opinion of the Swift Boat Veterans. While guest-hosting a segment of The O'Reilly Factor, he insisted that Kerry had "slimed" his fellow soldiers when he accused them of committing atrocities and that the Swiftboaters were simply saying, "We weren't ordered to do them. We think he's confabulating his real experience with stuff he read about in the news.'"
During the 2006 elections, conservative author R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. complained in a column titled "Swiftboating has become a hate term" that John Kerry had regularly been referring to "Swift Boat-style Republican attack ads" and "Swift Boat-style tactics where they throw up the mud and stick it."
"Kerry has resorted to these slurs on the Swifties in eight other fund-raising appeals," Tyrrell wrote. "Moreover, in the asylum that is the Democratic Party's Angry Left, 'Swift Boat' has become a verb and an adjective. The left-wing magazine Mother Jones writes of the Bush administration 'Swiftboating their enemies.' Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton admonishes against the dread Republicans' employment of 'Swift Boat tactics.' In the Kultursmog's parlance of hate terms, 'Swiftboat' is about to join such terms as McCarthyism and McCarthyite."
As recently as 2007, Fox host Sean Hannity defended the Swift Boat Veterans in very similar terms. "I am tired of this word 'swift boat' being used as a pejorative," he stated. "When we talk about the Swift Boat Vets for Truth, these are brave American heroes. And the only thing they did was point out that John Kerry, who slandered them in Vietnam, when they get back and accused them of cutting off limbs and heads, they said his story is inaccurate."
In his eagerness to defend former President Bush, however, John Gibson now appears to have bought whole-heartedly into the left-wing definition of "swiftboating" as lying for the purpose of smearing a public figure's reputation.
A review of Gibson's book at the conservative Washington Times enthusiastically proclaims that "from Hurricane Katrina up through the Obama inauguration, the most insidious of poison memes was promulgated through not just far-left media outlets, but also through purportedly mainstream purveyors of news. ... Mr. Gibson's book energetically attempts to rescue the Bush legacy from the spin machine. And on many fronts, his effort succeeds."
A liberal blogger at Firedoglake, however, comments sarcastically, "You can’t blame the Bushbots for trying to wipe some of that egg off their faces. But how dare John Gibson suggest the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth were liars."
This video is from Fox News' Fox & Friends, broadcast Dec. 9, 2009.