Eric Boehlert of Media Matters must be America’s lamest media critic. We knew he couldn’t argue; it now appears that he doesn’t read so well, either.
What prompts this observation is this post by Boehlert in which he tries to rebut the observations I made here about the Swift Boat Vets and their campaign against John Kerry. The context was my applauding President Bush for his recess appointment of Sam Fox as Ambassador to Belgium; the Democrats had blocked Fox’s appointment, purely out of spite, because Fox contributed to the Swift Boat Vets during the 2004 campaign. Here is what I wrote:
That the Vets have been “discredited” is a commonplace not only on the left, but in the mainstream media. Yet it is hard to find any explanation of where this “discrediting” lies. Most of what the Vets said in their ads has never been disputed, let alone discredited. Their most effective ad showed pictures of John Kerry in his anti-Vietnam war days, and quoted Kerry’s own speeches. The ad was important because most voters had no idea that Kerry had accused his fellow servicemen of being war criminals. The Vets also exposed the lie of Kerry’s “Christmas in Cambodia,” which Kerry now admits was false. Another ad showed officers who had ranked above Kerry in the chain of command, and who now consider him unfit to be commander in chief. How has that been discredited?
In fact, there was only one SBV ad the accuracy of which is even disputed, the first one that talked about the medals Kerry was awarded during his Vietnam service. Some of those facts are still uncertain, but the thrust of the ad, that Kerry’s purported heroism in Vietnam was being grossly over-sold, was certainly true.
Boehlert quoted only the third sentence above, so if his readers were foolish enough to rely on him without actually reading what I wrote, there is some chance they wouldn’t realize how dishonest he was.
So, how did Boehlert try to rebut the point I made? He cited a number of factual disputes that have been raised in connection with points made by the Swift Boat Vets. But every single one of the factual controversies noted by Boehlert relates, exactly as I wrote, to the subject of Kerry’s medals. He never questions the accuracy of any of the Vets’ seven other ads. Thus, Boehlert’s post, far from rebutting my point, actually reinforces it. Unbelievable.
We could stop there, of course. But let’s not. Instead, let’s take a walk down memory lane, and remind ourselves of what the Swift Boat Vets said about John Kerry, apart from the relatively minor matter of his Purple Hearts. This was the ad that probably finished Kerry as a Presidential candidate; it simply shows John Kerry as he appeared in 1971, and quotes his own words:
Has that ad been refuted or discredited in any way? It’s hard to see how it could be; I suppose Kerry could imitate the professional athlete who claimed he was misquoted in his own autobiography, but here we have Kerry on tape. This ad was devastating to Kerry because before the Vets began to expose his record, most Americans had no idea that he had returned from Vietnam and falsely accused his fellow servicemen of being war criminals “on a daily basis.” It was that realization that doomed Kerry’s campaign.
The Vets’ next ad took on Kerry’s claim that “seared, seared in his memory” was the unforgettable Christmas of 1968 that he spent in Cambodia on a secret mission. Kerry said that while in Cambodia, he heard President Nixon–who, in reality, was not President at the time–denying that we had any troops there. Over his public career, Kerry repeatedly claimed that this “searing” experience was the genesis of his disillusionment. Only, in this ad, the Vets pointed out that it wasn’t true:
How has this ad been “discredited”? It hasn’t been. On the contrary, the Vets forced Kerry to admit that his Christmas in Cambodia claims were false.
Then we have this powerful ad, in which the wives of former POWs talked about how Kerry had sold out their husbands and other servicemen by accusing them, falsely, of being war criminals:
Again, how has that ad been discredited? Obviously, it has not been. Everything the Vets said was true, and, in fact, has never been disputed.
The Vets’ last ad was this one, in which a large number of men who served in Vietnam expressed their opposition to Kerry:
Has this ad been discredited? Of course not. Liberals may disagree with these men’s judgment, but to suggest that the ad has somehow been proved false is ridiculous.
So: what I wrote, in connection with the nomination of Sam Fox, was precisely correct. The only ad that engendered significant factual dispute was the first one, relating to Kerry’s medals. Otherwise, there is little or no disagreement about the facts. As I wrote: “Most of what the Vets said in their ads has never been disputed, let alone discredited.”
Media Matters is an astroturf site that is funded by left-wing moneybags. I don’t know who, exactly, is paying Boehlert’s salary, but he isn’t getting his money’s worth.
UPDATE: My friend Bob Cunningham enjoyed this reminder of Kerry’s magic hat. He writes: “pocketa-pocketa-pocketa.”