Still Pissed Off About the Hawley-Smoot Tariff

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Kerry Video: Liberal Blogger Roundup

So you've seen my thoughts on the pseudo-review in Let's take a look at what some bloggers are saying about the issue. And because all the conservatives are linking one another, I'll focus on citing and fisking (without linking) the liberals.

Oliver Willis: Nothing. Not a single thing. He's got two video-related posts, and he offers absolutely no analysis whatsoever. Instead, in the first one ("Swift Boat Smears") he quotes the entire text of this report, in which John McCain bascially complains that the video is unfair, and in the second one ("The Smear's Unravelling") he quotes four paragraphs from a Yahoo News story which, like the Salon article, only discusses the producers. At the end of the second, he sums up all his investigative journalism by saying, "When the race gets tight, Bush gets dirty."

That's all. Very deep stuff. No attempt to actually show Bush had anything to do with the video (and I suspect Willis would hotly dispute any suggestion that John Kerry had anything to do with Fahrenheit 9/11), no inquiry into the substance of the claims made in the video. Is that really too much to ask?

Joshua Michael Jackson Marshall: Nothing. Not a single word. Not even a lazy, Oliver Willis-style link.

Atrios: Gets bored with the story after THREE WHOLE WORDS!!! Man, that guy's got an attention span like a .. like a, um... you know.

Like Willis, Atrios is content to let others do his writing for him. He quotes a wholly irrelevant bit about none of the people in the video actually serving in the same boat as Kerry. Fine, Atrios, show us where any of them said otherwise. He also quotes a bit from Jim Rassmann, the guy who was saved by John Kerry. Note that a) Rassmann's quote doesn't actually contradict a single thing said in the video, and b) Rassmann's version of events is disputed on CNN, transcript here. (You have to scroll down a bit).

Atrios then fools us by mentioning Swift Boat Veterans in the title of his next post, but it's really a story about something else. In other words, Atrios gives us five words of original text. He's too lazy to even quote as much as Oliver Willis. But he's five words up on Josh Marshall.

Daily Kos: The guy who notoriously said of American civilians killed in Fallujah, "Screw them," has more than the three previous candidates combined.

Like Atrios and Willis, he starts with a quote from John McCain. Then he moves into his own remarks:

"The ad is beyond the bounds of common decency..."

Two words, Kos: "Screw them." I'm sorry, were you just saying something about common decency?

"-- to attack the highly-decorated Kerry, who volunteered for combat duty while AWOL Bush played pool volleyball with ambitious secretaries in Texas."

Interesting point (even if everything in it has been vigorously challenged, something I won't bother to duplicate). What Kos fails to mention is that the people doing the attacking were not AWOL and did not, to the best of anyone's knowledge, play pool volleyball with ambitious secretaries in Texas. They were on swift boats in Vietnam. If they don't have a right to speak about Vietnam, then neither does Kerry, right?

"And the ad doesn't feature a single vet who served on Kerry's swiftboat."

True, but that's neither contested nor relevant. No one ever said they were on Kerry's swiftboat. Neither did they have to be to see the man in action.

"But why is McCain acting all shocked? The Bush machine pulled the same smear crap against him in 2000, as he himself notes."

Gripe, gripe, gripe. Politics is dirty, plain and simple. I won't pretend otherwise. But given the absolutely appalling tone of this election cycle ("SCREW THEM!!!"), I'm a little surprised you would even mention it. Oh yeah, you have cheap political points to score. If highy liberal groups, not technically affiliated with the DNC, can spend two solid years pulling "the same crap" you now complain of, then I'm a little surprised you have the gall to complain about a little tit-for-tat.

"If McCain wants to campaign against the politics of personal destruction, then he needs to cast his lot elsewhere or remain neutral."

I disagree, because I think American politics needs a serious civility injection, and it never hurts to get it from any source. If people are going to ask us to act decently, we ought to pay attention, rather than asking for neutrality.

Later that same day, Kos mentions the CNN interview linked above.

"Thurlow was claiming that during Kerry's rescue of Rassman, there was no enemy fire at all, and hence Kerry didn't deserve a purple heart or a bronze star. Rassman held his ground, saying he that Thurlow must be telling this story for partisan reasons. "

Kos doesn't tell us whether he thinks "You're a stinking partisan!" is a valid rebuttal to someone's recounting of past events. We'll just have to wonder.

"A simple Google search reveals a completely different story in American History magazine from this past April."

In all sincerity, Kos, thank you. You are right when you say a Google search is simple. It takes virtually no effort, and can actually add substance to a discussion. Oliver, Atrios and Joshua Micah Haversham Shimboopy Dillybopper Marshall (if you don't get the joke, you haven't been reading Ace like you should) could learn a lesson.

What Kos doesn't expressly say, although it doesn't look like he's deliberately concealing the information, is that his Google hit is not a different version of the story from the same witness. I thought at first that Kos had caught our guy in a contradiction. No such luck. The story was written by Douglas Brinkley. So now we have a third version of events (if you count the two on CNN), but none of the three is the definitive version.

Kos quotes about how Kerry and Thurlow were both treated for wouonds on a Coast Guard cutter after the incident, and concludes thus:

"In other words, if Kerry doesn't deserve his bronze star, seems that Thurlow doesn't deserve his either."

But this does not follow. Kos, the medal you get when treated for a wound is a purple heart, not a bronze star. Getting treated aboard the cutter only means the two should have gotten purple hearts. It is clear from Thurlow's narrative that he disputes Kerry's bravery because he fled the area after an explosion (in all fairness, I can't say I blame him), although he later came back and got Rassmann out of the water. I won't get into the merits of whether Kerry's actions deserve a broze star - really, I'm not qualified. But it does not follow logically that because on person exhibited valor on one occasion, and he and another person were injured, that both of them must have exhibited valor.

"It's unforgivable to allow a vet like Thurlow, whatever kind of person he is now, to tarnish his own heroism by encouraging these lies."

Agreed completely. All Vietnam veterans, therefore should be absolutely forbidden to speak unless their words are pre-screened to weed out anything "tarnishing." Of course I'm joking, and the joke is based on Kos' inexplicable use of the word "allow." Since when do we forbid people from speaking? Or rather, since when does anyone other than a Democratic Congressman seek to forbid people from speaking?

"If Bush had the slightest understanding of honor he would never allow this by his surrogates. It's just disgusting."

Again we have a value judgement from Mr. "Screw Them" Kos. Considering that Kos is basically a Kerry surrogate, and considering that his "Screw Them" post was absolutely disgusting, has John Kerry's honor been impugned by his failure to take down Kos' blog?