Re: Not Too Swift

1

How ironic ...


Posted by: swampcracker | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 3:12 PM
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Huh. You know, I hate Giuliani with an all-consuming passion, and I'm wildly indignant about the Swift Boat attacks on Kerry, but they are structurally similar. In both cases, it's a group of people who biographically you'd think would have been supportive, who instead are standing up and saying "Nope, we hate him."

The Swift Boat lies were to make the hatred look respectable, and the firefighters don't need to lie to make hating Giuliani respectable, but the shape of the attacks is very similar.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 3:20 PM
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2: yeah, it didn't seem to far out of line to me. Heck, to Republicans the original swift boaters should be heroes, right?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 3:28 PM
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Sure, I see the point. I thought "swift boating" emphasized the dishonesty of the attacks, but maybe that was idiosyncratic.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 3:34 PM
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Perhaphs structurally similar in that they both contain negative attacks against a presidential candidate, but dissimilar in every other way. The IAF is an independent, legitimate interest group, whereas the Swift Boat Vets were a group funded and controlled by right-wing operatives and created for the sole purpose of disseminating lies about Kerry's career in the Army.


Posted by: NotATurtle | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 3:35 PM
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5: well, right, but obviously that viewpoint is influenced by our partisan lens. These people are attacking Giuliani with an eye towards the GOP primary, so the liberal POV (however correct) on the swift boaters doesn't matter too much..


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 3:37 PM
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In the Navy (where you can sail the Seven Seas.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 3:37 PM
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2: But the original Swift Boaters were not about hatred, and that's how these two cases are different.

If the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth were just a bunch of people who really really hated Kerry, why didn't they mount their massive campaign against him during the primary when they could have prevented him from getting the nomination? If their goal was a non-Kerry president, that would have been the smart choice. Instead they didn't speak up until mid-summer '04. SBVT was a pro-Bush, rather than anti-Kerry organization. The firefighters, on the other hand, seem to really dislike Giuliani, and are accordingly trying to prevent him getting nominated.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 3:38 PM
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Oh, all true about the lies -- I guess my point about the resemblance is that the firefighters are really doing precisely what the SwiftBoaters were purporting to do. The shape of it is the same, it's just that it's real rather than phonied up, and to someone who didn't accept that the SB attacks were phony, they're exactly the same.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 3:41 PM
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The core of the Swift Boat Vets group were a bunch of guys who personally hated Kerry, though. They got the funding to go after him in a big way from pro-Bush people, later in the campaign cycle.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 3:42 PM
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Although they didn't hate him in a non-political way. The main guy, who's name I forget, had been a political Nixon operative as an anti-Kerry spokesman back in the 70's.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 3:46 PM
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Navy. What evs. I think Ogged is correct that "swift boating" necessarily implies that the group attacking the candidate is illegitimately claiming to represent an interested segment of the population. It isn't just that the swift boaters were lying about Kerry's record, it's that they were also being disingenuous about who they represented.


Posted by: NotATurtle | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 3:48 PM
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the SB attacks

Rarr!


Posted by: Standpipe Bridgeplate | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 3:51 PM
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Oh, you and Ogged are probably right. I guess I'd be indignant about the comparison in the general election, but not in the primary.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 3:52 PM
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I don't see how this helps Guiliani at all, victim or no. His name recognition is based on being the hero of 9/11. The firefighters coming out against him does way more damage than the SBVFT ever could, because Kerry's whole campaign was not based on his Viet Nam service.
The fact that the firefighters union is reliably Democratic is the only angle that will get any play.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 3:55 PM
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The firefighter's campaign doesn't help Giuliani, I meant that calling it a "swift boating," insofar as it has an effect, helps him. But it certainly doesn't outweight the effect of the group's message.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 3:57 PM
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IIRC the SBVFT were brother officers who really did hate Kerry personally, not politically, but were funded by Scaife, et al. Their "lies" didn't seem all that improbable to me, just irrelevant.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 3:59 PM
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Well, John O'Neill had been an anti-Kerry Nixon operative way back when, so the hatred was always political. And on the probability of the accusations, I had a dust-up with Shearer over this a while back -- while it'd be boring to repeat it, if you were interested you could google 'Swift Boat' in the archives and it'd pop up.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 4:03 PM
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2: LB -- a Republican tool as always.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 4:04 PM
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Interesting how effective the Swift Boat campaign was, even on Unfogged readers.

The "Swift Boating" was all about accusations that were either risibly false, or lamely irrelevant.

As to the former, you had stuff like guys on the same boat who claimed Kerry wasn't under fire in a given incident ... who themselves had been given medals for being under fire in the self-same incident, along w/ Kerry and the rest of the boat.

As to the latter, you had the interminable arguments as to WHAT DAY EXACTLY Kerry was in Cambodia ... or just very, very close to Cambodia.

It was disinfo from Day One.

Whereas the firefighters were not "in the same boat" as Giuliani and are not making stuff up.


Posted by: Anderson | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 4:05 PM
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The accusations were pretty tiny -- which side of the Cambodian border was he on, how serious were his Purple Heart injuries, did he really deserve his awards. And they weren't well grounded: there were very few Swiftboaters who had any first-hand knowledge (2 to 5, IIRC), and some of them changed their stories, while there were several eyewitnesses who testified for Kerry.

It was just neutralization -- changing Kerry from a war hero to maybe a war hero, maybe a fake. As soon as people were open-minded about that, the SBers won.

The SBers hated Kerry because of his anti-war activities, and they were willing to lie.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 4:10 PM
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18. Winter soldier probably doesn't help Kerry in this regard. Water under the bridge, or over the dam as to your preference.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 4:11 PM
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17: right, which is exactly nothing like firefighters calling Guiliani on his BS.


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 4:12 PM
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Another telling right/left distinction in these attacks: the swift boat attacks were based on character, saying that these (alleged and unfounded) incidents in Kerry's past prove that he's a liar and a coward and therefore shouldn't be president. The Giuliani attacks are based on policy decisions that he made in his capacity as mayor about budgeting, priorities, etc. Not that you couldn't make a hell of an anti-Giuliani campaign based on character, but I think we're all waiting for that to come from the right.


Posted by: M | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 4:12 PM
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I thought it was pretty much agreed that the original SB thing was a pre-emptive attack to take out building up Kerry as a bona-fide war `hero' vs. Bush's pseudo-service record.


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 4:14 PM
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I'm with ogged on this. The Swift-Boaters were especially repulsive in a number of ways--such as that they were lying--and the repulsiveness is what the term has always conjured up for me.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 4:20 PM
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26: but, in the context of that article and group, it doesn't matter what the word conjures up for you. It matters what it conjures up for GOP primary voters.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 4:21 PM
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Isn't this the sort of tactical strike for which the Swift Boat itself was designed? The Administration & the War Party used the Swift Boat Vets to "combat insurgent activities", with progressives and peace-lovers (especially in red states like mine) cast as the insurgents.

LB is totally right in 2--now that the Internet & it's extensions have flowed through the whole culture, such attacks are the shape of things to come. And swift boats are the about the handiest metaphor I could imagine: "sturdy"; "protect[ed] against grounding"; "self-sufficient" for long patrols; fast; stuffed with "high-resolution radar" and "long-range communications equipment"; "armed for limited offense"...

Maybe that last one is the trouble. Advocacy itself (including attacks on public figures) is democracy's patrol force. Without it, democracy is a sham. The trouble with the Swift Boat attacks of '04 was that (A) nobody on shore knew the waters, and (B) the patrols were armed with the equivalent of smallpox blankets.

At any rate, I think the analogy is distinctly memorable and intuitively understandable--much too strong to be, er, banned. The post does a great job catching the spin the NBC guy put on the term "swift boaters". Does anybody have an opinion on how well the reporter characterizes the actual claims of the firefighters? I haven't been through the whole site yet...

on previewPwned all over, of course. But I do see two fronts for responding to this sort of attack in general: transparency of interest and adherence to demonstrable fact. I wonder which one--if either--yields any safety for Giuliani?


Posted by: Rah | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 4:25 PM
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I just wanted to say that I hate Guiliani.

I think it is fabulous that he has campaign managers have been an alleged cocaine distributor and an alleged john. (clearly, he knows how to party!) Now, he has a confirmed racist.

And that isnt even including Kerik.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 4:27 PM
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A confirmed racist and a crazy genocidal lunatic.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 4:28 PM
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Gah! If anyone would be so kind as to snip out the errant apostrophe above & mail it to me, I'd be much obliged... Perhaps I ought to wear it on my shirt for a week or two as a reminder.


Posted by: Rah | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 4:28 PM
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Oh yea, I forgot about Norman.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 4:31 PM
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31: that's cool, everybody does it's here.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 4:32 PM
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Their "lies" didn't seem all that improbable to me, just irrelevant.

Not improbable perhaps, but upon actual investigation they did turn out to be lies. I realize this is irrelevant from the perspective of political theater, but it was nice having a term that we could use to denote a specific kind of political attack which would be understood to imply that the attacks are lies. Now apparently the term is neutral to whether it refers to lies or the truth, just like "gaffe" and other terms.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 4:34 PM
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27: Isn't the whole issue here not letting the GOP redefine terms? Or, more broadly, whose definition wins? Ours. Because there's is wrong, is why.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 4:37 PM
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Firefighters on Guiliani:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vaCYEEO-58I&eurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Ecrooksandliars%2Ecom%2F


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 4:37 PM
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Ned, maybe I'm misremembering, but I don't think there were any "lies". Just enough additional inforation to muddy the waters, like whether a wound was a "scratch" that merited the Purple Heart. It was certainly meant to blunt the "war hero" image, esp. in comparison to Bush and the TANG.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 4:45 PM
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34: This is the real problem. It's become a term with a useful meaning (of targeted, well funded, essentially bullshit PR campaigns operating under `grassroots' cover), but it hasn't really become *established* meaning. I can't blame the republicans for trying to establish the meaning far away from the actual quisling motivations of the actual `swiftboaters' but it seems now's the best time to make that clear, and establish the usage.


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 4:45 PM
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37: No, they claimed he conspired to fake the reports on which his decorations were based. Those claims were lies (or, at least, given that they were raised for the first time thirty years after the relevant events and had no supporting evidence, I feel comfortable calling them such.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 4:48 PM
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37: TLL, maybe I'm misremembering also but I had the opposite

I never bought the `war hero' image either (and have pretty general reservations when it's pulled out as a political schtick) but it's pretty clear the Bush's service record looked a best pretty weak compared to Kerry's, and assumed the SB charade was constructed to counter that.

It's the astroturfing aspect of it that I think is most problematic.


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 4:49 PM
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40 got clipped somehow. My first sentence should have said : ... opposite sense, that they were caught in some pretty well established (and important) lies. But LB got there before me, it seems.


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 4:50 PM
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Accusations that are unproveable one way or the other don't constitute lies, in my opinion. Just sleazy (and skeevy) behaviour.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 4:53 PM
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And for the record, Kerry was there, Bush was not. That is enough for me, on this issue.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 4:55 PM
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42: I think people here are talking about actual, honest-to-god, disprovable lies.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 4:57 PM
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42: I think that's giving the `I never thought this was important until 30 years later when it's politically expediant, but I swear up and down it's true' crowd an awfully large benefit of the doubt.

Avoiding rehashing all of that, I think everybody can agree there is enough factual difference between the swiftboaters::kerry and firefighters::guilliani sittuations that they really ought to have different labels, regardless of who you agree with or don't.

Unless the intention is spin, of course.


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 4:58 PM
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While Bush is a truly reprehensible figure in many widely varied ways, flying century-series fighters was no joke.

I also can't wait until we have presidential candidates who were too young to be in the military during the Vietnam war.


Posted by: Jake | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 4:58 PM
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Speaking of Rudy, this post by Lower Manhannite at the replacement for Gilliard's News Blog is really something.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 4:58 PM
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Accusations that are unproveable one way or the other don't constitute lies, in my opinion.

Oh, nonsense. You mean any time I'm alone in a room with someone, and thirty years later start telling people "He stole my wallet!" I'm not lying? What do you think 'provable' means?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 4:58 PM
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46: wouldn't that be, like, now?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 4:59 PM
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43: That pretty much does it for me, too.

As noted, I think there's really no need to rehash SB to reject the idea that this firefighter thing is somethign quite different.


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 4:59 PM
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See, I think that calling the fire fighters "swift boaters" in this context might actually help them, since the people most likely to be persuaded by the firefighters would presumably believe the original swift boaters were honestly motivated.

Unless Republicans are all total hypocrites and...

Okay, point taken.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 5:00 PM
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Deep down, I fear the swiftboating of Kerry was so successful because it allowed for a lot of Carrot-Top style prop comedy, like wearing a bandaid with a purple heart on it, or carrying around giant flipflops to wave, both ubiquitous at the RNC. Republicans love Carrot Top.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 5:03 PM
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47: Yeah, that's a damn good post.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 5:03 PM
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46. Hah- the question then will be were you a:
1. Keyboard commando
2. Killer of innocent Iraqis
3. Giant puppet wielding hippie
4. Lazy Unfogged commenter.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 5:04 PM
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52: Well it's part of a much larger, and largely successful push away from issues and toward theatre. I'm really not sure what the most effective counter is, and deeply concerned that the only one might be `be better at theatre'.


Posted by: soubzriquet | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 5:07 PM
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42 is remarkably silly. 20 years ago TLL molested me in the janitor's closet at elementary school.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 5:15 PM
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You too?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 5:18 PM
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While Bush is a truly reprehensible figure in many widely varied ways, flying century-series fighters was no joke.

"Good enough reflexes to not kill himself in an airplane." Not setting the bar very high here.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 5:19 PM
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56. I can also prove I wasn't there. I would worry more about your statement if I were running for office. Here, I will wear the accusation as a badge of honor.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 5:30 PM
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Don't be silly. If we had your real name, and a classmate from your elementary school to make them, the accusations against you would be just as strong as those against Kerry.

But not lies by your standard.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 5:32 PM
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I was quite the rake in elementary school, so you wouldn't have too much trouble. But your point is taken. And yet another reason why you won't see me running for office anytime soon.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 5:36 PM
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To be Borked was a verb that preceded Swiftboating as a term to signify political falsehoods. But, of course, the Democrats merely held up Bork's actual views to critical inspection, as the firefighters are doing with Giuliani.

Not sure what a genuinely patriotic American can do in this situation. A race to the bottom in public discourse is almost as damaging to the country as Republican victory. But unilateral disarmament by the Democrats isn't an option either. At the risk of becoming a bit of a crank on this subject, I think Michael Moore catches the exact right balance - nasty, but fundamentally accurate.



Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 6:37 PM
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Accusations that are unproveable one way or the other don't constitute lies, in my opinion

They do if they're false.

Unless an accusation is some sort of quantum-Schrodinger's-cat kind of thing--neither true nor false until you open the box. I bet when you open the box you sometimes find a vice-president there, too.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 7:58 PM
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ow. pwned and pwned.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 8:01 PM
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52 is totally right. about the only status manoeuver better than laughing at someone is ignoring them, which doesn't really work in a political/tv sort of theatre.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 07-11-07 9:38 PM
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48

Isn't this basically what Anita Hill did to Clarence Thomas? Are you willing to call her statements lies?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 07-12-07 11:07 AM
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Can we *please* kill Shearer now?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07-12-07 11:13 AM
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Get him on a bicycle!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-12-07 11:15 AM
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