Watching John Kerry react to the Swift Boat Veterans’ attacks has been very educational. One of the best ways to judge someone is to see how they handle themselves in a crisis, and regardless of how you feel about Kerry and the Swifties, it’s undeniable that it’s been a sore spot for Kerry.
When Kerry first started taking the Swifties seriously, his campaign sent out letters to television and radio stations with veiled threats of lawsuits if they ran the ads. He called on President Bush to denounce the ads. He demanded the Swifties’ publisher stop selling their book. Last week he demanded again that Bush stop the ad and filed a formal complaint with the Federal Elections Commission.
There were two things Kerry didn’t do, though. First, he didn’t directly answer the allegations the Swifties were making. His spokesmen tapdanced around the specifics, evaded the substance of the issues, and gave technically accurate but misleading responses. (My favorite was the statement that the Swifties lacked credibility because “didn’t serve on the same boat” with Kerry. The boats had a crew of six, with a single officer, so no officer had ever served on the same boat with Kerry. This argument kinda fell on the wayside when Chicago Tribune Editor and Swift Boat veteran William Rood broke his 35-year silence and spoke out about serving alongside Kerry, on a separate boat.)
Secondly, he didn’t release his service and medical records to put the lie to the Swifties’ allegations. There is a single form that any veteran can file that authorizes the military to release any and all records from their service (the exact designation escapes me at the moment). Bush signed his a while ago; Kerry has not. (Or perhaps Bush hasn’t; see comments below.) The campaign insists they’ve released everything, but the exact phrasing is that they’ve “made public all the records they’ve shown the Boston Globe,” which just means they haven’t played favorites with any media outlets, regardless of how favorable they’ve been in the past.
So, let’s see: when Kerry suffers an attack, his immediate response is not to confront his attackers, but to run to authority figures and attempt to stifle the attackers while evading the substance of the attack and discrediting his critics.
Funny, I don’t recall George Bush threatening Michael Moore with a slander or libel lawsuit for the many thoroughly-proven falsehoods, deceptions, and outright lies behind “Fahrenheit 9/11.” I must have missed the press conference where he called for the film’s recall, and denounced Moore as an un-American propagandist. And could someone point to me the complaint with the Federal Elections Commission on that movie being used as a fund-raiser and rallying point for the anti-Bush forces?
Update: I don’t know how this slipped past me, but it didn’t get by Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs. Inder the terms of the McCain-Feingold Act, it is illegal for a campaign to even attempt to influence a 527 organization. Were Bush to do what Kerry is demanding and attempt to “call off” the Swifties, Bush would be in violation of the law. Kerry is trying to get Bush to break the law, and Bush is rightfully refusing.
Update 2: A hat tip to our fearless leader here at Wizbang, Kevin, who recieved his own little tipoff that on the official message boards of the Kerry/Edwards web site has a discussion thread from the end of June that urges all Kerry supporters to go to MoveOn.Org’s web page and help to promote Michael Moore’s widely-discredited propapaganda piece, “Fahrenheit 9/11.” And since July it has apparently occurred to no one just how flamingly illegal it is for a campaign to essentially pay for a 527 group to push it’s own message and recruit volunteers — note the last posting by “spreadthevote” where he/she is asking for people to “join us” at moveon.org. Hello, Federal Elections Commission? Since you’re already looking into 527 groups at Kerry’s request…