Thursday, August 05, 2004

McCain condemns pro-Bush T.V. ad

AP is reporting that Republican Senator McCain is condemning an ad run by Bush supporters that suggests Kerry's Vietnam record is bogus. This is a tactic that backfired when it was used in previous campaigns, as such accusations angered Kerry's crewmates, who would then actively to campaign for him. You can imagine how this might anger people. McCain, like Kerry, was also a war hero, and spent several years as a prisoner of war. You can just imagine McCain seeing red during the 2000 Presidential campaign, when a group, also funded by a Bush supporter, adopted similar tactics against McCain, probably suggesting he was not really a prisoner of war as he claimed. According to the AP, McCain supporters have never forgiven the Bush camp for the 2000 ads. McCain (whose emails the Republicans recently spammed me with in support of Bush) has asked the White House to condemn the news ads; the White House so far has refused.

The Democratic counsel has written letters to TV stations asking them not to show the ads as they are an "outrageous lie." Kerry's war hero status is a matter of public record (with testimonials under oath and under penalty of perjury going back 20 or more years and subject to intense scrutiny, &c), while this new group was reportedly funded by a big Texas Republican contributor who paid this group a half million dollars to put out these ads and make these claims.

That Republican groups are trying to smear Kerry's war record will come as no surprise to readers of this blog. During and right after the Democratic convention, I tuned in (rather briefly) various local AM talk radio channels, a media that is well known to have a far-right bias. Minutes after the convention, it sounded like the right-win host was interviewing what was (to me) obviously a GOP operative pretending to be a liberal; the fake liberal then (incredibly!) that Kerry was a war hero to (fake) liberals because he avoided shooting people but won medals from the Pentagon for sympathizing with the enemy. This sounds similar to this story: one of the claims made by the groups was that Kerry was a coward who avoid combat. (The fake "veteran" operative also "interviewed" claimed he was angry at Kerry because he won metals for hiding behind trees. Folks, the Pentagon doesn't give you silver and bronze stars for frequent cowardice, as these groups, who are reportedly taking a lot of money from a Texas millionaire, are claiming.)

As I described earlier, the next day, I tuned in for less than a minute, and heard what a believe was a national radio personality claiming that Kerry denied 911 had happened in his acceptance speech the day before. (You can obtain Kerry's acceptance speech off a number of conservative sites and verify yourself he made exactly the opposite claim, and discussed 911's importance.)

As I wrote then, I'm not a political strategist, and don't know the best way to handle these things; I can only report what I observe. But the statements were easily verified as false, and that made them sound like actionable slander, even given that Kerry is a public figure.

The Democrats are dealing with some very ruthless people (the ones that brought you Florida and Abu Gharib, among many others, and even Republican Senator McCain seems to despise their attack dogs). So I'm not surprised that the Democrats might be going down a legal route with some of the more outrageous claims, as this time around they have to defend themselves.