Lying Liars for Truth
By now, you've surely heard about this disingenuous "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" campaign, which through ads, a book, and talk show appearances, attempt to smear John Kerry's service record, claiming 1) he never took any serious fire, 2) his war wounds weren't all that bad, 3) his wounds were possibly self-inflicted, among other things. This assault has muddied the waters, despite the clear lies and distortions at work in these allegations, as reported by the Washington Postand the New York Times and upheld by Republicans like John McCain and Chris Shays. Seriously, read the link and come back, you won't find a better condensation of these lies anywhere.
The Bush campaign, who has not specifically condemned these ads, instead uses the opportunity to condemn all 527 ads, many of which have targeted the President and his policies. Now, Bush won't come out and call THOSE ads lies, he won't connect THOSE ads to the Bush campaign, unlike Kerry's fiery speech yesterday in Boston. Well, that's because they're not. While the money trail of the Swift Boat Veterans ads goes all the way back to Bush I's 1988 campaign, ads by MoveOn.org, the Media Fund, and more have no connection to the Kerry campaign.
In fact, Bush had no problem with the loophole that created the 527 ad wars we see today. Let's read his statement after signing the McCain-Feingold Act (which he did without fanfare, by the way):
Today I have signed into law H.R. 2356, the "Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002." I believe that this legislation, although far from perfect, will improve the current financing system for federal campaigns.
...this law will raise the decades-old limits on giving imposed on individuals who wish to support the candidate of their choice, thereby advancing my stated principle that election reform should strengthen the role of individual citizens in the political process.
So your principle is to strengthen the role of individual citizens, but you want to eliminate all 527 ads, most of them financed by individual citizens?
Third, this legislation creates new disclosure requirements and compels speedier compliance with existing ones, which will promote the free and swift flow of information to the public regarding the activities of groups and individuals in the political process. I long have believed that complete and immediate disclosure of the source of campaign contributions is the best way to reform campaign finance.
And yet he denies clear links between his campaign and the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. I wish Kerry would call on Bush to act on his word and offer full disclosure on the funders of these ads.
However, the bill does have flaws. Certain provisions present serious constitutional concerns. In particular, H.R. 2356 goes farther than I originally proposed by preventing all individuals, not just unions and corporations, from making donations to political parties in connection with federal elections. I believe individual freedom to participate in elections should be expanded, not diminished; and when individual freedoms are restricted, questions arise under the First Amendment.
So your campaign now seeks to restrict individual freedom, but no questions arise under the First Amendment?
I also have reservations about the constitutionality of the broad ban on issue advertising, which restrains the speech of a wide variety of groups on issues of public import in the months closest to an election. I expect that the courts will resolve these legitimate legal questions as appropriate under the law.
So you go from having reservations about banning issue advertising to CALLING for it, once you realize that there are more donors out there willing to produce issue ads against you than for you?
This is classic flip-flopping, and the Kerry campaign should call it as they see it.