November 07, 2007
I always chuckle when I hear the term "swift boated" not only because it reminds me of that hapless effort known as the John Kerry presidential campaign, but because I am reminded that none of claims made by the swift boat veterans for truth were ever successfully refuted to this day. And yet the term has somehow passed into common acceptance, certainly in the mind of Democrats, as another way of describing scurrilous, baseless, and utterly untrue personal attacks made during a presidential campaign.
As you may know, the phrase "Swift boated" refers to a series of ads which ran in the 2004 presidential race. Apparently, a large group of veterans who served with John Kerry in Vietnam had various gripes and a wide array of non-partisan reasons as to why they felt John Kerry wouldn't make a good commander in chief of the armed forces of the USA. Whether or not you believe that the Swift Boat veterans were justified in making their complaints, I would submit that in fact, the public took away exactly only what they needed to and not much more: that John Kerry was a pompous jerk 30 years ago and for mainly that reason, he pissed off many former colleagues. The fact that Kerry responded to the ads by attacking the character of his detractors without actually bothering to factually refute the charges didn't help, but essentially the swift boat ads were merely a symptom rather than the cause of Kerry's doomed presidential aspirations.
Listening to them talk, some Democrats would have you believe that the sole reason as to why John Kerry lost the '04 election was because of the swift boat veterans for truth ads. This interpretation of the impact and nature of 'Swift Boating' is now widely accepted amongst Democrats. And now, perhaps the most recognizable and revered modern Democrat of all time, Bill Clinton, has raised the dreaded specter of the almighty "Swift Boated" effect. On Monday of this week, Clinton compared the recent criticism of his wife in her most recent and most dreadful debate performance to the effective 2004 election political ads. While it's funny to get into just how awful and how flip-floppy Hillary was the other night, what I'm interested in here is that the term 'swift boated' has now morphed into yet another iteration of itself. Bill Clinton now sees swift boating as something that refers to the posing of legitimate questions that the public is dying to know the answer to. The other night in Philadelphia, Tim Russert simply wanted to have some clarification on a few black and white issues that we still to this day do not know the answers to. Namely, is Hillary for or against the issuing of driver's licenses to illegal aliens. And, will Hillary Clinton, who is most certainly in charge of her own records, authorize the release of certain archived correspondence between herself and Bill during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Needless to say, Hillary's responses to these inquiries were less than illuminating. And the longer Hillary dances, confuses and/or stonewalls on these issues the worse she looks.
One lesson to take away from this episode of the Clinton saga is that for many Democrats and especially for Bill Clinton, reality is simply what you make it. For Clinton and anyone who believes what he is saying on this matter to be with merit, objective truth is merely an abstract notion. If you repeat something enough times in your mind like a mantra, no matter what objective truth dictates, it becomes true. It becomes your reality. So for example, the fact that the swift boat veterans were actually telling the truth is extraneous to the new imagined reality.
Also reinforced for us was the lesson that the Clintons, to their core, really do disdain from being subjected to difficult and/or probing questions. Since the now infamous Fox News Sunday Chris Wallace interview with Bill, we have been exposed to a new extra prickly and super indignant side of Mr. Clinton. No longer is he the fun loving party guy who played saxophone on Jay Leno. Those without concrete memories of the 90's will regard Bill Clinton as an indignant victim, which is how he currently portrays himself and most recently, Hillary. Claims of victimhood have never seemed to be particularly attractive qualities for a presidential candidate, but now we are being asked to simultaneously believe that Hillary Clinton is the victim of sexism/'swift boating' and also that she is a bare knuckles, rugged politician ready to take on anyone. The phrase 'wanting to have it both ways' is an understated characterization of this particularly laughable chapter of the Clinton saga. Watch out Clintons, incoming probing questions, commence obfuscation. Failing that, just claim victim status.