Thursday, August 05, 2004

Old Wound Reopened 

Courtesy of Zemblan patriot M.U.: After seeing the latest and scummiest anti-Kerry TV ad, John McCain had a belated attack of conscience:
Republican Sen. John McCain, a former prisoner of war in Vietnam, called an ad criticizing John Kerry's military service "dishonest and dishonorable" and urged the White House on Thursday to condemn it as well.

The White House declined.

"It was the same kind of deal that was pulled on me," McCain said in an interview with The Associated Press, comparing the anti-Kerry ad to tactics in his bitter Republican primary fight with President Bush.

The 60-second ad features Vietnam veterans who accuse the Democratic presidential nominee of lying about his decorated Vietnam War record and betraying his fellow veterans by later opposing the conflict.

"When the chips were down, you could not count on John Kerry," one of the veterans, Larry Thurlow, says in the ad. Thurlow didn't serve on Kerry's swiftboat, but says he witnessed the events that led to Kerry winning a Bronze Star and the last of his three Purple Hearts. Kerry's crewmates support the candidate and call him a hero . . . .

McCain, chairman of Bush's campaign in Arizona, later said the Bush campaign has denied any involvement and added, "I can't believe the president would pull such a cheap stunt."

White House spokesman Scott McClellan declined to condemn the ad. He did denounce the proliferation of spending by independent groups, such as the anti-Kerry veterans organization, that are playing on both sides of the political fence.

"The president thought he got rid of this unregulated soft money when he signed the bipartisan campaign finance reform into law," McClellan said. A chief sponsor of that bill, which Bush initially opposed, was McCain . . . .

"I deplore this kind of politics," McCain said. "I think the ad is dishonest and dishonorable. As it is, none of these individuals served on the boat (Kerry) commanded. Many of his crew have testified to his courage under fire. I think John Kerry served honorably in Vietnam. I think George Bush served honorably in the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War" . . . .

The Kerry campaign has denounced the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, saying none of the men in the ad served on the boat that Kerry commanded. Three veterans on Kerry's boat that day -- Jim Rassmann, who says Kerry saved his life, Gene Thorson and Del Sandusky, the driver on Kerry's boat, said the group was lying.

They say Kerry was injured, and Rassmann called the group's account "pure fabrication."

Hoffmann said none of the 13 veterans in the commercial served on Kerry's boat but rather were in other swiftboats within 50 yards of Kerry's.
Messrs. McClellan and McCain have a sweet little crosscurrent of vague unspoken threats going there, do they not?

UPDATE: Digby has the dirt on the brains behind "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" -- practiced character assassin John O'Neill, who honed his Kerry-bashing skills under the direct tutelage of Charles Colson and Richard M. Nixon. Joe Conason describes his longstanding ties to the Republican party and the Bush White House here.

O'Neill's book-length smear of Kerry is currently ranked #1 at Amazon.

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