The New Use for Swift Boat Comparisons

Wednesday, May 16, 2007 at 04:10 PM

Public debate is made increasingly muddy these days by the ever-increasing number of propaganda outlets funded by conservatives. Similarly, immediate claims of outrage over ordinary events and tactics, and hyperbolic comparisons to past outrages, tends to divert attention from the substance of what is said. Welcome to Vermont and the debate over the wisdom of its nuclear energy generator.

I came across this story in a local Vermont newspaper about a recent ad targeting Entergy's Vermont Yankee nuclear plant (emphasis added):

A group of lawmakers is up in arms over a political advertisement that ran in eight Vermont newspapers on Tuesday.

Rep. Darryl Pillsbury, I-Brattleboro, Rep. Patricia O'Donnell, R-Vernon, and several other Republican legislators held a Statehouse press conference Wednesday morning to decry the ad, which they said is dishonest and mean-spirited.

With the headline "Who's Calling the Shots," the ad features a photo of a cigar-smoking corporate type, contrasted with a photo of a modest family of three. The former apparently represents Entergy Vermont Yankee, whom the ad says has "dozens" of lobbyists and values Vermont for "Profit, and the storage of highly radioactive waste on the shores of the Connecticut River."

The ad says it was paid for by "Climate Change Group" and directs readers to a Web site set up by the group. ...

Pillsbury took particular issue with the ad's assertion that the average Vermont family has zero lobbyists compared with Entergy's "dozens." He believes that, in fact, Vermont families have 180 lobbyists -- each and every member of the Legislature.

"It's my job to look out for the people. I'm registered to work for the people," he said.

Entergy spokesman Brian Cosgrove compared the ad to those produced by Swift Boar Veterans for Truth, which targeted Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., during the 2004 presidential election.

Newspeak University, right there in the pages of the local paper. Your state legislator is your personal lobbyist if you're an individual citizen. Since a lobbyists lobbies the legislature, and the legislator says he's your lobbyist ... I'm not sure how this works out logically. Probably in a migraine.

And of course that ad is exactly like the Swift Boat attacks. Not a single difference, not a one.

Needles to say, the newspaper's story reports all this with a straight face, taking all the claims and charges at face value despite their absurdity.

If we're not already at the point where all substance is lost to deliberate obfuscation, we're awfully damned close. Can you imagine what it's like for a kid to grow up in this environment, thinking that this is debate, logic, and reason?


Add British accents and it's another Python piece. Is this the right room for an argument?

The difference is that the Swiftboat Ads were true, as those of us Vietnam Vets who worked on the issue with SBVT know.

"The difference is that the Swiftboat Ads were true"

Yes, of course they were. In your mind, at least. Factually, no, they were not. Lest readers be deceived that the truth of these smear ads is really ope to debate, you can find a collection of info on the SBVT ads here. For the personal rebuttal by former POW Phillip Butler, see here. And I find it noteworthy that John McCain found these attacks disgusting.

I learned long ago that people committed to certain myths are not movable with logic or reason. The smearers of Kerry fall into that group, as do all the revisionists who now insist we were an inch from victory in Vietnam when the politicos betrayed the military.

But enjoy your myth. It's yours and no one can take it from you.

On a tangent about those who believe we were just shy of victoryin Vietnam when Washington/the media/peaceniks sold out the troops, I was in Vietnam in 1970, and we were no where near anything resembling a victory then. Even in my relatively safe little compound the night belonged to the Viet Cong; all night, every night, everywhere except a few heavily guarded sites.

Myths die hard. Actual human beings in military uniforms die a lot easier.