Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Edwards and the Swift Boats

I hadn't seen this before, and I'm mostly posting it here so that I can find it later:

Kerry's running mate, John Edwards, also wanted to take a swipe at the Swifties. Edwards was hardly an attacker in the Dole (or Cheney) tradition of vice presidential hit men; his whole persona and appeal were based on sunny optimism. But as early as Aug. 5, when the Swifties were just getting traction, Edwards wanted to push back, hard. McCain had just told the Associated Press that the Swift Boat ads were "dishonest and dishonorable... the same kind of deal that was pulled on me." Edwards wanted to begin a speech, "I join with Senator McCain in calling on the president to condemn this dishonest and dishonorable ad." But Kerry headquarters said no. Stephanie Cutter, the boss of the Kerry communications shop, explained that the campaign didn't need to give the Swift Boat vets any more attention than they were already getting.

Edwards played along, but his aides were indignant. They warned the veep candidate that the story was already out of control and about to get worse. Historian Douglas Brinkley, author of a wartime biography of Kerry, cautioned that Kerry's diary included mention of a meeting with some North Vietnamese terrorists in Paris. Edwards was flabbergasted. "Let me get this straight," the senator said. "He met with terrorists? Oh, that's good."


Rousseau said...

Whether to legitimate and publicize negative attacks by responding to them is a very difficult question. There are certainly times when we choose not to respond.

Clearly the Kerry camp got this one wrong, but I would like to hear how many negative attacks like this were out there that the Kerry camp chose not to dignify, with that being the correct choice.

Also, the Republicans had a pretty good response to calls for them to denounce swiftvets: Bush and his surrogates repeatedly denounced all 501c organizations (sp?), and asked the Kerry camp to do the same.

beowulf said...


In a political campaign, you have to assume any negative TV ad (this was more than just an internet rumor) will end up being an issue that needs to be addressed or your opponent gets to frame the issue (I hate Lakoff for turning "frame" into a cliche).

The Swift Boats leader, John O'Neill, actually was complimentary towards Edwards. Maybe JE should put the plug up on his website :o)

John E. O'Neill: I am a lawyer in Houston. I have heard only good things from other lawyers about John Edwards. He obviously has given up a successful career in order to pursue the public interest. I hope he has a long and successful career in public service. In the summer of 2003 I was contacted on this matter by the Boston Globe and indicated that I supported Sen. Edwards for President. Unfortunately that is not the hand we got dealt.