“Those guys were on their own & I had nothing to do with it! Honest injun!” (credit: NYT)
The New York Times has been regaling the world with serial accounts of the smarminess, mendaciousness and downright sleaze of the anti-Kerry Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. Beginning over a week ago, each day’s edition has amplified the lies, distortion and general swinyness of the group. Here’s a list starting with the first article I could find (I think one or two may’ve predated the first one listed here):
Kerry Calls Ad Group a ‘Front for the Bush Campaign’
Friendly Fire: The Birth of an Anti-Kerry AdKerry Might Pay Price for Failing to Strike Back Quickly
Officer From Another Swift Boat Breaks Silence and Defends Kerry
Kerry TV Ad Pins Veterans’ Attack Firmly on BushPresident Urges Outside Groups to Halt All Ads
Bush Campaign Lawyer Quits Over Ties to Ads Group
Navy Report Backs Kerry Role in Incident
The Times reporters on this story have uncovered an intricate overlapping network connecting the group and the formal Bush campaign–a no-no according to Federal election laws governing 527 committees. The main sources of funding for the scurrilous anti-Kerry ads is two Texas Republicans who’ve been primary funders of Bush’s campaigns both for governor and president. It turns out that almost all the major contentions of the ads (Kerry wrote the after-action reports on which his medal awards were based, etc.) are either outright falsehoods or unproven and unprovable. This type of thorough, bulldog reporting deserves to win journalism prizes and I hope they do.
What is Bush’s response? Instead of responding to the heart of the issue he, on advice of his campaign advisors I’m sure, attempts to turn the discussion from a sleazy Bush campaign group to the nature of the 527 committees themselves. He attempts to say that he’s always been against 527s and wishes they would all go away. Well, you can’t have it both ways, guy. You signed the McCain-Feingold bill into law and it created the 527s. If you didn’t like 527s then, you should’ve vetoed it. You didn’t, so you’ve got to live with it.
Most importantly, the issue here is not the nature of 527s. It is the sleaziness of one particular pro-Bush 527. The Swift Boat campaign must be stopped. If Bush doesn’t do it himself, then I hope that the American people will find themselves so disgusted by its shenanigans that it’ll give Bush a drubbing in the opinion polls by watching his favorables go down, at least in the “trustworthy” category if nowhere else.
How long before Bush throws in the towel and pulls the plug on the ads? I give him a week or less. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if he does so just before the Republican convention so that he can show his supposed “compassionate” side. Were he to call off his dogs (at least in this one case—keep in mind he has other dog breeds preparing to unleash other anti-Kerry 527 attacks), he could do so and call upon Kerry to join him. That would look downright Presidential and above the fray, wouldn’t it? But we won’t be fooled again or ever by the depths of smarminess to which this guy will stoop.