The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ad questioning John Kerry's actions in Vietnam is getting the thorough dissection it deserves, and isn't holding up well. Among the basic problems are that these vets did not serve on Kerry's boat (as their ad leads you to believe they did), make many unverifiable assertions and on facts are contradicted by Navy records.
Don't take my word for it. Visit FactCheck.org, which dissects ads from both parties. Here's how FactCheck begins its analysis:
A group funded by the biggest Republican campaign donor in Texas began running an attack ad Aug. 5 in which former Swift Boat veterans claim Kerry lied to get one of his two decorations for bravery and two of his three purple hearts.
But the veterans who accuse Kerry are contradicted by Kerry's former crewmen, and by Navy records.
The Washington Post reported today (free site registration may be required) that Larry Thurlow, one of Kerry's chief Swift Boat critics, is contradicted by his own Navy records, some of which the Post obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. From the Post:
Last month, Thurlow swore in an affidavit that Kerry was "not under fire" when he fished Lt. James Rassmann out of the water. He described Kerry's Bronze Star citation, which says that all units involved came under "small arms and automatic weapons fire," as "totally fabricated."
"I never heard a shot," Thurlow said in his affidavit, which was released by Swift Boats Veterans for Truth. The group claims the backing of more than 250 Vietnam veterans, including a majority of Kerry's fellow boat commanders.
A document recommending Thurlow for the Bronze Star noted that all his actions "took place under constant enemy small arms fire which LTJG THURLOW completely ignored in providing immediate assistance" to the disabled boat and its crew. The citation states that all other units in the flotilla also came under fire.
"It's like a Hollywood presentation here, which wasn't the case," Thurlow said last night after being read the full text of his Bronze Star citation. "My personal feeling was always that I got the award for coming to the rescue of the boat that was mined. This casts doubt on anybody's awards. It is sickening and disgusting."
Yeah, whatever. It is, however, part of the official record.
The swifties also, and most tellingly, are contradicted by Lt. Jim Rassmann, the Green Beret who credits John Kerry with saving his life under enemy fire. "He risked his life to save mine," Rassmann, a Republican, says in a new ad for Kerry, which you can view here.
Kerry has disassociated himself from this ad by MoveOn.org, which questions President Bush's record in the Texas National Guard during the Vietnam war. It would be nice if Bush would distance himself from the Swift Boat crowd. But I'm not holding my breath.