January 7, 2008 5:46 AM

Truth is for Losers and Liberals

Over the last three years, the group of organized, well-financed liars ironically named the “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth,” have come to be synonymous with vicious smears and mendacity. Most honorable people, who have any decency at all, look back at the group’s bogus attacks with disgust and disappointment. These clowns smeared a war hero to help a couple of draft-dodgers, and the Republican Party cheered them on…. In 2004, Swifties were closely tied to the Bush administration, particularly Karl Rove. Care to guess who these guys are rallying behind now? John McCain.

Among the most odious and unpleasant legacies of the 2004 election cycle is the specter of so-called “527” organizations. These groups cannot by law have any official connection to a political campaign, but they can- and, in the case of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, did- do much to influence voters and perhaps even the outcome of an election. John Kerry didn’t necessarily lose the Presidency because of the Swifties’ lies and blatantly created out of whole cloth propaganda. Even so, an argument could be made that the Swifties’ whispering campaign did in fact help to propagandize voters into voting once again for Our Glorious and Benevolent Leader © .

You could probably be forgiven for thinking that the Swifties, once their character assassination was completed, crawled back into the cesspool from whence they sprang. Sadly, nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, it seems that, not only are these self-interested oligarchs and propagandists back, they’ve discovered what Josef Goebbels knew some 70 years ago- if you keep repeating something often enough and with enough conviction, it will eventually becomes the truth. And nothing buys Truth like a lot of money, especially when it’s paired with a complete absence of conscience.

Research by The Nation into Federal Election Commission records of the group’s top twenty donors reveals that they’ve been remarkably active in this cycle, contributing and bundling nearly $200,000 to presidential candidates. This does not bode well. During the last presidential campaign, the wealthy backers of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ‚Äö√Ñ√Æ now rebranded as Swift Vets and POWs for Truth ‚Äö√Ñ√Æ didn’t do their real dirty work until the general election, where as a tax-exempt 527 group they operated outside the restraints of direct campaign contributions. We may wish we were done with the Swift Boaters, but they aren’t done with us.

In 2004 the top twenty donors all gave (with one exception) at least $50,000 to the group. The top three — Houston home builder Bob Perry, Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens and billionaire drugstore impresario and investor Harold Simmons — gave a combined $9.5 million ($4.45 million, $3 million and $2 million, respectively). Calculating the influence of these and the slightly less wealthy Swift Boat donors during this cycle is a touch more complicated than simply adding up their contributions. Each one exerts far more influence as a bundler, given the federal restrictions on individual giving, which limit donors to a maximum of $4,600 per cycle. So The Nation looked not only at the contributions of the donors themselves but also at those of their family members and employees.

In an era when we’re bombarded and frankly overwhelmed with information, a well-financed group willing to take a shortcut past the truth and attack a candidate for transgressions- whether real, imagined, or created out of whole cloth- has a real shot at gaining traction. In 2004, the Swifties turned Kerry’s war record into a parody of itself. Before you knew what had happened, the lies and propaganda had in effect become Truth. Kerry was being questioned for something- his war record- that should have been sacrosanct and beyond question. In the space of a few short weeks, Kerry went from being a war hero (legitimate) to being a prevaricator, and embellisher, and a liar (pure, unadulterated propaganda). Guess which “truth” people were willing to believe?

Yeah, I know….repeat after me, y’all: SOMEWHERE, JOSEF GOEBBELS IS SMILING….

We could well be looking at the same sort of thing in this election cycle. How often are we currently subjected to smears of Barack Obama? One, his middle name is Hussein (and I suppose he’s secretly sworn allegiance to al-Qaeda), and two, he allegedly attended a madrassa (yeah, and I’m the Queen of England). When you hear smears such as these on Fox News Channel and even on CNN, you have to wonder who snuck into Ford’s Theater and assassinated the truth.

It would be nice if I could look forward to a reasoned, intelligent debate on the issues. It would be nice to think that Americans will listen to the candidates, and make an intelligent decision based on their positions. Right…and I still believe in the Tooth Fairy.

Get ready, y’all, because as this year marches on, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and likely 527 groups will spend a lot of money on lies, propaganda, and character assassination. Such is the state of our democracy. I’d pose a question and wonder if these trolls have any shame, but that would presume that they actually understand the concept. Not bloody likely.

blog comments powered by Disqus


Technorati search

» Blogs that link here

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Jack Cluth published on January 7, 2008 5:46 AM.

Widespread ignorance of reality doesn't make it any less real was the previous entry in this blog.

Guilty until proven innocent is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Contact Me

Powered by Movable Type 5.12