The real effect of the Swift Boat Vets Posted by: McQ
on Tuesday, November 20, 2007
You can argue all day long about whether or not the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth had valid points or not (I personally and after much research into their claims, found theirs much more credible than John Kerry's), but the net result of that political confrontation was to have today's aspirants for the office of President prepared to fight back.
Obama’s response accused Clinton of “Swift Boat politics” — a reference to the 2004 attacks on Kerry’s military record by a group calling itself the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. Kerry stayed quiet, a decision that some advisers fought at the time and that in retrospect turned out to have devastating consequences for his image in some swing states.
Now I have my own opinion as to why Kerry remained silent (he announced last week that after 3 years, he's ready to fight back now), but the point wasn't lost on political strategists. Whether or not Kerry could have presented a strong enough case to rebut the SBVT is still not known, but the effect of not doing so may have cost him the election.
So this cycle's strategists and operatives are prepared to do battle at the drop of a slight or a hint of innuendo and they're prepared to hit back fast and hard:
These operatives point out that one reason the responses often come so quickly is that they’re often pre-packaged — ready to be touched up and sent out with the slightest pretense or provocation.
“Each campaign has reams of research and well-culled response strategy in the bank,” said GOP strategist and Mitt Romney backer Phil Musser.
“All the top contenders — Republican or Democrat — have a squad of coffee-fueled, 20-something hit men buried in a windowless HQ office breathing every factoid of their opponents’ political life. They’ve been champing at the bit to be unleashed through the first half of the primary season, but the past few weeks — when the whites of the eyes start to show — is where they whir into full gear.”
Jim Dyke, a former RNC operative and Rudy Giuliani adviser, said that it’s often a question of kill or be killed. “Failure to address seemingly legitimate charges in today’s rapid media environment lends credence to the charge and can be interpreted as a sign of a weak candidate or weak campaign,” Dyke observed. “And weak during a time of war is the kiss of death.”
Of course that means that, depending on the competition, it could get very nasty very early with Democrats going after Democrats with both barrels and Republicans doing the same. And depending on how low they go, there's a possibility that attacks could irreparably harm the eventual nominee of either party. As the Politico points out, when it gets to the "whites of the eyes" stage, even in the primary season, the gloves have a tendency to come off.
Of course all of this is great blog fodder. A sort of side-line seat to a war and counting coup. Because of its early start, crowded field and polarizing candidates, this election season, beside being the most expensive (possibly the first net billion dollar campaign), it stands to be the dirtiest, most vitriolic and divisive campaign we've yet witnessed. As the campaign war rooms react and hit back, the level of discourse and debate is most likely to drop lower and lower until it is simply devolves into a virtual slug-fest with the strongest opposition research team and their candidate coming out on top.
There's no doubt about who I think that will be among the Dems. I'm still not sure about the Republicans.
In order to disprove the accuracy of the Swift Boat ads, I will ultimately need you to provide the following: 1) The journal you maintained during your service in Vietnam. 2) Your military record, specifically your service records for the years 1971-1978, and copies of all movies and tapes made during your service.
This could get good, but I expect Kerry to find a way to weasel out while claiming victory.
Personally, I think he lost in 2004 because he always left every conversation taking the opinion of that who he last talked to. Simply, if he actually would have expressed a real conviction on any and all subjects, no matter what that position was, he would have convinced enough voters to vote for him.
McQ, there is a reality to this rhetorical war that appears to be understated. Yes, the candidate with the most responsive and effective "instant response team" or "war room" has an initial edge and advantage but, ultimately, the "wheat" will be extracted from the "chaff" by a LEGION of political analysts, both professional, amateur and, most importantly, the discriminating mind of an informed American voter.
In short, cardboard swiftboats don’t float...at least not for very long.
...but, ultimately, the "wheat" will be extracted from the "chaff" by a LEGION of political analysts...
Yet as we’ve seen, too often one side tries to peddle chaff as wheat - and the base eagerly devours the rancid grain, thinking it is angel food cake. Further, thank goodness for those legions, otherwise lazy, or biased, or unscrupulous media actors would be able to peddle the shaff with impunity (as the MSM used to, most recently with the 60Min TANG story). SBVfT started off peddling the chaff (misbegotten medals), then switched to the wheat (slanderous rhetoric against ones own country). These days, there has to be enough wheat along with the chaff to convince the non-base folks that there are some kernels of truth in the display shelf puff pastry.