A word from Robert Coram

Robert Coram is the author of American Patriot: The Life and Wars of Colonel Bud Day. He has forwarded a message related to our post “Setting the record straight on Bud Day, and CNN.” Mr. Coram writes:

The CNN description of Col. Bud Day was simply wrong. Col. Day was never a member of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.

The Swifties criticized John Kerry’s Vietnam service, his medals, and the details of his discharge. After Kerry’s salute and his “reporting for duty” comment at the convention, another group sprang up around documentary producer Carlton Sherwood whose goal was to make Kerry accountable for the 1971 testimony before Fulbright’s committee, testimony in which he talked of war crimes, atrocities, etc. Col. Day was part of the second group and not the Swifites. In fact, he disagreed with the central thrust of the Swifties, that of questioning Kerry’s medals.

There was not just a philosophical but a legal difference in the Swifties and in the group which coalesced around Carlton Sherwood. The Swifties were organized as a Section 527 and thus “political,” while Sherwood’s group was a for-profit S corporation organized in Pennsylvania and, at least in theory, “non-political.”

This whole issue becomes more complex when in September of that year the Swifties had lost all momentum and were dead in the water but were sitting on millions of dollars while Sherwood’s group had no traction and was broke.

About the time Sinclair announced it was running “Stolen Honor” and the resulting flap and publicity, the Swifties decided they need to regain their momentum. They asked the POWs who had appeared in Sherwood’s documentary to join them in taping a series of television ads. The ads had enormous impact, the most powerful of which was one of Col. Day, Medal of Honor around his neck, staring into the camera and asking of John Kerry, “How can you expect our sons and daughters to follow you when you condemned their fathers and grandfathers?”

Taping the series of ads was the only place where the two groups came together. That does not make Bud Day a Swifty. CNN was wrong.

The description of Col. Day as a member of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth is widespread on the Internet. I have no independent knowledge of the subjects raised in Mr. Coram’s message, but his knowledge of Col. Day is authoritative and consistent with the account of Scott Swett and Tim Ziegler in To Set the Record Straight: How Swift Boat Veterans, POWs and the New Media Defeated John Kerry.

UPDATE: Scott Swett writes to comment:

The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth formally joined forces with the group of POWs associated with the documentary “Stolen Honor” on September 29, 2004, at which time the combined group was renamed “Swift Vets and POWs for Truth.” See page 283 of To Set the Record Straight.

Swett adds: “There is also no indication that Col. Day disagreed in 2004 with anything the Swift Vets had to say about John Kerry.” Col. Day makes no appearance in To Set the Record Straight until the discussion of the Sherwood documentary in chapter 16 of the book. So far as I can tell, he had no involvement in the original iteration of the Swift Boat Veterans. In a message that I have edited to focus on the point at issue, Mr. Coram responds:

Mr. Swett’s message indicates that he believes in something which was not true in 2004 and is not true today – that Col. Bud Day was a member of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. I called Col. Day this morning and he confirmed that he was not a Swifty and further, that he disagreed with their agenda of questioning John Kerry’s medals and his Vietnam service.

The Swifties approached Carlton Sherwood, who produced the documentary “Stolen Honor,” and asked if they could join up with the POWs who had appeared in the documentary to shoot a series of television ads opposing Kerry’s candidacy. Now we come to a point where Mr. Swett is correct, the Swifties and Carlton Sherwood/POWs did join forces to shoot the ads. The Swifty/POW group was about shooting television ads and not about the Swifties’ original agenda. Thus, to contend that because Col. Day appeared in the television ads financed by the Swifties, he was a Swift Boat Veteran for Truth is flat wrong. Col. Day was not a Swifty and, as of about noon Monday, he still disagrees with their original goals.

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