Swiftboaters gear up for contest
April 30, 2015
Beware the Swiftboaters bearing tidings of wrongdoing . They may be trying to sink your candidate.
Swiftboaters have been in business ever since politics in a democracy and a free press existed, but they did not get their name until the 2004 presidential campaign. It has become the modern word for unfair campaign smear tactics.
In 2004 a 527 political group "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" drew on a book by John O'Neill, political activist supporting the Vietnam War since 1971 and a longtime antagonist of John Kerry, the Democratic candidate for president. The Swiftboater group ran ads near the end of the campaign that attempted to defame Kerry's war record in commanding a swift boat operation in Vietnam. It was a very important element in Kerry's defeat.
It was after the election all but one of the crew members who actually served under Kerry in the swift boat came forward to attest to Kerry's deserving the medals, the supportive Navy Inspector General's Report was released on Kerry's request, and admission by his commanding officer, the chief accuser, that he had of no direct personal knowledge of the events leading to medals. Kerry made a strategic error in not requesting release of official military records earlier in the controversy.
Given the GOP's evident strategy of assassinating Hillary Clinton's character, expect the GOP-dominated Congress and their media partners to keep the issue alive by dragging out further investigations, rehashing and digging up more allegations.
Making a candidate out as personally untrustworthy is a time honored political strategy when opponents are neither unified or have strong issue messages appealing to those beyond their base, like this year. It is possible for perception, right or wrong, of character flaws to drown out the issue debate in a general election as it did to in 2004. It is particularly effective when the attack is launched nearer Election Day, giving little chance for lining up friendly witnesses, documents, and other refuting proof.
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There is a possible swiftboat attack in the making. The pre-release of a book by Peter Schweizer, Clinton Cash, to Fox News and the New York Times, alleges suspicious links between donations by foreign governments to the Clinton Family Foundation and State Department decisions made by Clinton when she was Secretary of State.
Liberal watchdog Media Matters traced Schweizer, the president of the Government Accountability Institute (GAI), to a conservative group with close ties to the billionaire Mercer family funding Sen. Ted Cruz's presidential run. Per Media Matters, GAI has also received substantial support from groups backed by Charles and David Koch.
The Clinton Family Foundation appears to have used those donations for humanitarian aid, though speaking fees and unreported donations definitely deserve scrutiny. Digging by the New York Times has just begun. Their purpose is to find proof if Clinton helped Foundation donors get favorable State Department decisions.
The smoking gun was missing from Schweizer's book. Unlike Kerry, Clinton has 18 months to fight back and to be prepared for 11th hour surprises. She must deal with each allegation quickly and she should hold nothing back that would clear her.
For links to sources go to http://www.mufticforumblog.blogspot.com.
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