Clearing the Fog
in the
War of Words


  logomachy--1. A dispute about words. 2. A dispute carried on in words only; a battle of words.
logomachon--1. One who argues about words. 2. A word warrior.



The new standard story on Kerry

The new standard story on Kerry

The mainstream press response to Unfit for Command and the Swift Boat Vets for Truth is changing shape. Whereas the initial response by the pundits was that the SBVT were lying hypocritical, Republican smear artists traducing the reputation of a war hero who was doubly patriotic for opposing a war in which he won medals, the news stories are showing two different themes. Neither story will be concerned with the facts.

First, the story is emotions. The anti-Kerry vets are angry about Kerry's anti-US-pro-Communist activities in the early '70s and especially about his accusations that American soldiers were ravaging the Vietnamese people like a Genghis Khan's Mongol hordes (see Some Veterans Still Bitter at Talk of Crimes) and Friendly Fire: The Birth of an Anti-Kerry Ad.
Second, though Kerry may have told conflicting stories, the main point is the holes in the Swift Boat vets' account of Kerry's actions. Swift Boat Accounts Flawed shows the slant.

Reporters are not scrutinizing John Kerry, yet, not the way they pored over Bush's National Guard attendance records. It is the upstarts who get the hyper-skeptical response. I think the press will--as they do in these articles--try to bury this story, the way book stores are. They do it by focusing narrowly on how Kerry's and the SBVT's statements match and don't match official records, when Kerry has refused to release his records and part of the SBVT indictment is that Kerry falsified records. They do it by obsessing on irrelevancies and alleged contradictions and inconsistencies in Swiftee statements and behavior, without providing context.

They do it by discrediting the individual Swiftees. They use the not untrue but misleading epithet and the easy stereotype, like calling John O'Neil a "long-time critic" of Kerry who debated Kerry at the behest of the Nixon White House, when O'Neil hasn't volunteered a word about Kerry for 33 years and came to the White House's attention because he already was challenging Kerry. They do it by distracting obtuseness, such as insisting that "self-inflicted" mean "deliberate" or by thinking a petty officer is an officer.

The press, as long as they can keep the story about the Swiftees and their problems, will do so. The pack won't go for Kerry unless he shows weakness or (to switch metaphors) unless there is blood in the water. The press will try to keep the story away from the falsified reports, fanciful diary entries, the movies of reenacted and rescripted firefights.

They will keep the story away from the bathetic conventionality and self-satisfaction of his thinking, such as the time he took shelter in a firefight and could find nothing better to do than enjoy a moment of smug irony at the expense of a hypothetical fat, war-profiteering businessman eating a fancy dinner at that very moment in New York. They will keep the story away from his petulant, self-centered grumping that "the war isn't accomplishing anything" because he feels unfulfilled, because he has not driven the Viet Cong from their strongholds in the Cau Mau peninsula with one spectacular Swift boat mission. Kerry's complaints are in the mode of the narcissistic wife and are too in tune with our feminized sensibilities.

What the Swiftees have to do is overcome the press' drag and inertia until Kerry stumbles.

I predict that if the SBVT story can't be stopped by press sludge and syrup, Kerry will do two things.
First, he will not release his records.
Second, he will apologize, sort of, for saying those harsh things. He won't actually admit that the Winter Soldier testimony was completely fraudulent or that his statement was written by one of his county's internal enemies in support of its external enemies. He will issue one of those "anybody I may have offended" regrets things and might even concede that most Vietnam veterans served honestly and honorably. He might go so far as to concede that the military did not turn us into the guilt-ravaged homicidal wrecks that he portrayed us to be. But he won't admit that we won the war and then Democratic Congress threw it away, lest something good come of something they opposed.

The press will say Case Closed. Feel the Closure. But it won't be.

One of Kerry's crewmen, Michael Medeiros, complained, "A lot of people just can't forgive and forget". For thirty years a lot of people have tried to forget, but you can't forgive someone until he admits he needs forgiving.



  This page is powered by Blogger, the easy way to update your web site.
My Profile

Home  |  Archives