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Not Too Swift

Vets questioning Kerry's record discredit themselves



"They can't all be Republican liars," grumped elder statesman and Viagra pitchman
Bob Dole on CNN about the absurdly titled "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth." Now the grumpmeister is getting a big boner over helping President Dubya's slimy surrogate attack dogs tear down the honorable war record of John Kerry -- a guy who actually saw combat in Vietnam, versus Mr. Champagne Unit who forgot to show up for his military physical.



Senator Boner ought to be ashamed of himself. You don't get to claim the elder statesman mantle and then further the aims of down-and-dirty political mudslingers.


Can all these Vietnam vets attacking Kerry's war record be Republican liars? "It's absolutely possible," says former Navy lieutenant and swift-boat commander Rich Baker of Crafton, who served with John Kerry. At an Aug. 24 press conference held at a Kerry campaign office Downtown, Baker and other Vietnam veterans briefed reporters on the distortions of the formerly honorable veterans turned Republican hacks.


Is it unpatriotic to question the service record of a fellow veteran? "Absolutely," said Lt. Baker. Next to him was a wounded Pittsburgh Vietnam vet named John May. "That's unpatriotic, sure," said May. "You twist it around just to get a vote. That shows you have no integrity yourself."


Finally, someone's telling the truth. President Bush's nonsensical response to the swift-boat liars -- that all such privately funded political ads should be stopped -- is the biggest dodge since Dubya's connections vaulted him ahead on the list to join the Guard and stay out of 'Nam.


But Dubya can't expect to be taken seriously when he refuses to confront people lying on his behalf. Yes, lying. How can you tell when one of these swifty hacks is lying? His lips are moving. There is so much evidence of disingenuousness I don't know where to start. But here are some of my favorites.


Larry Thurlow commanded another swift boat near Kerry's on the day both of them earned the Bronze Star. Thurlow says they weren't under fire. But CNN reports Thurlow's official citation says they were. CNN obtained a military document saying Thurlow's boat had three .30-caliber bullet holes in it. Gee, I wonder how you get those when you're not under fire? And The Nation magazine reports that a third soldier who won the Bronze Star that day, Robert Eugene Lambert, also has a citation that states flatly "all units were under fire." So who's lying? Is it John Kerry and the U.S. military? Is it Vietnam vet Jim Russell, who was on the swift boat behind Kerry and who says that anybody who claims they weren't under fire they must have been "on a different river"? Is it Jim Rassmann, who says he remembers bullets flying all around when John Kerry pulled him out of the river and saved his life?


Or could it possibly be the other side, who The New York Times reports has long-standing connections to George H.W. Bush, Karl Rove and the President himself (the effort is funded by TEXAS Republicans)? Could it be the other side who, while claiming no connection to Bush's re-election effort, was recently embarrassed when the Bush campaign asked veteran Ken Cordier to resign from Bush's Veterans Advisory Committee because he is in fact a member of the so-called Swifties for Truth? (I gag every time I see the word "truth" associated with these dishonorable hacks).


Did you know that "Truth Swifties" Adrian Lonsdale and George Elliot publicly defended Kerry in previous years, only to suddenly and inexplicably change their tunes? Did you know that the group's leader, John O'Neill, was courted by Nixon dirty trickster Chuck Colson to oppose Kerry's anti-war message in the '70s, but now O'Neill laughably claims his effort isn't political?


Did you know that a Texas publicist who once helped Daddy Bush prepare for a vice-presidential debate helped produce the anti-Kerry ads, and provided the group with strategic advice?


I enjoy aggressive politics. But this is so sickeningly gross my skin isn't just crawling; it's doing the freaking cha-cha. As Iraq vet and PA Veterans for Kerry spokesman Jon Stoltz told me, "Attacking someone's military service is like attacking their family."


Let me answer Sen. Dole flatly: Yes, they all can be Republican liars. And they are. Enjoy the boner, Senator. It's all you have left.

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