Monday, August 23, 2004

So, one of the noises coming out of Dubya's campaign these days (them themselves, not surrogates) is that Kerry's campaign is "coming unhinged" and that Kerry himself looks "wild-eyed". Which is kind of interesting, considering that their guy is the one who reacted to questions about the indictment of Ken Lay by refusing to answer and storming off the dais. But Republicans feel they need to exercise care in drawing only the proper conclusions from the facts in evidence. Witness, for instance, the studied reluctance of David Adensik to go from "the SBVT say these things" and "these things contradict records and their own prior statements" to "the SBVT are lying their asses off." Because that would be an improper conclusion.

Concerning proper conclusions, they have a somewhat lower standard of proof. The latest "Swift Boat Veterans" ad, for instance, tries to paint Kerry's testimony about American atrocities in Vietnam as dishonorable (and right-wingers, of course, gleefully throwing around words like "treason"). Why? Because he said the war was a mistake? Because -- says the Swift Boat ad -- the Viet Cong supposedly read Kerry's testimony to POWs to demoralize them? As opposed to, say, the far more graphic, and undeniably correct, testimony at the trial of Lieutenant Calley, which had already occured; Kerry can't have "given" the Viet Cong anything they didn't have anyway. But hey, maybe the prosecutors who had the effrontery to put Calley on trial for the rape and murder of a few hundred gooks, slicing up defenseless old men with bayonets and machine gunning the occasional baby, were treasonous too. Heaven forfend our enemies get valuable talking points.

In a democracy, when things are going badly wrong, the way they are supposed to get fixed is by people talking about them, in plain English -- and it is never "treason" to suggest the government might have goofed. If Kerry's critics think telling the godawful truth to Congress is dishonorable, then their idea of honor is very different from mine. And I don't think I need to know much more about it than that.

But if you do, Jeanne D'arc has an excellent piece up which considers Kerry's testimony, and some veterans' reaction to it, both in its own right and as a harbinger of unfortunate current events...


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