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Monday, January 02, 2012

To Newt Gingrich, on the occasion of his claiming to have been "Romney-boated"

Mr. Gingrich, some of us spent a whole lot of time and effort investigating and, then, publicizing John F. Kerry's true military record — including its blatant lies and exaggerations — in the 2004 election. We are extremely grateful to the men who served with Kerry on the U.S. Navy's "Swift Boats" in the riverways and canals of Vietnam, and who came forward in 2004 to tell what they knew.

We believe these "SwiftVets" were, are, and will always be brave patriots.

Then there are those others who, for whatever reasons, think that these veterans' campaign to put Kerry's military career under a more accurate spotlight was inappropriate, notwithstanding Kerry's own aggressive but dishonest efforts to portray himself as an Audie Murphy or a Sgt. York. Those Kerry allies feel sorry for poor John, and they (including their allies in the reflexively-liberal mainsream media) coined the term "Swift-Boated" to mean something awful, something nasty and dishonest. This cynical linguistic formulation is as neat a 180-degree reversal of the truth as any propaganda machine has ever attempted.

The truth is that the SwiftVets sunk Kerry's campaign by making it widely known that instead of being a hero in the Vietnam War, Kerry bugged out of active combat early, with a chestful of medals he deserved only barely or in some cases not at all; he returned home to provide Congress with his sworn testimony that falsely condemned his own comrades of being war criminals; and that while still a commissioned officer in the Navy Reserve, with his uniform hanging neatly in a Washington closet, John Kerry secretly connived with the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese delegations in Paris to undercut America's position. If there's anything equally perfidious in Gingrich's past, then I certainly hope some other GOP candidate would run advertisements to reveal that! And for those of us who supported the SwiftVets' efforts in 2004, their resulting success is seared — seared! — in our collective memories.

Thus, I'm inclined to spin on my heel and walk rapidly away, disgustedly, from anyone who uses the term "Swift-Boated" the way Kerry and his allies do. I do not want a president who identifies and sympathizes with John Kerry over men who are real heroes.

So when you're complaining about how hot it is in the kitchen you're trying to stay in, Mr. Gingrich, you might think twice, and then three times, about whining that you're being "Romney-boated" by attack ads.

If you want to pretend you haven't attacked other candidates for the GOP nomination, or if you think you can prove that there's something egregiously wrong with other GOP candidates attacking you — and if you think that's a plus for you, something that will give us confidence in your prospective ability to stand up under Obama's attack ads for the rest of 2012 if you're our nominee — then make your best pitch.

But if you make it in this language, you can expect an extremely frosty reception from people like me. Those people are going to tell you, "If that's what you think about the SwiftVets, then you can go straight to hell, Mr. Gingrich!" And then they're going to walk away from you as fast as they can, fists clenched at their sides (lucky for you).

You'd best apologize, Mr. Gingrich. Alas, for those of us who fear you've long since been captured by the Beltway Mentality, for those of us who fear you really do naturally sympathize and empathize with John F'ing Kerry over the men who stayed and fought, apologies don't go very far against evidence like this.

Posted by Beldar at 02:04 PM in History, Politics (2011), SwiftVets | Permalink


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(1) Michael Butler made the following comment | Jan 2, 2012 4:30:24 PM | Permalink

Very well said, sir! You should get this post in front of the Romney campaign - or any of the candidates, for that matter, who are interested in making Gingrich pay for this slur.

Thanks for your blog!

(2) Gregory Koster made the following comment | Jan 3, 2012 12:59:49 AM | Permalink

Dear Mr. Dyer: To think that fifteen years ago this man was Speaker, a pillar of the GOP, and had a bright future ahead of him. Now look at him. Was he always this way? How such a bright fellow can be so inept and doltish is a puzzle. If he thinks the gunfire Romney's surrogates are firing at him is intense, he's got no business anywhere near the campaign trail. That he can't see how odious he's become by adopting liberal bigotry is even worse. Put him down as a contender for the putdown Lord Balfour bestowed on Leo Amery: "The cleverest bloody fool alive."

Sincerely yours,
Gregory Koster

(3) Cecil made the following comment | Jan 3, 2012 9:50:40 AM | Permalink

Gingrich was still on my possible list for the SC primary until he made the "Romney-boated" statement. Now I wouldn't vote for him if he was the only person on the ballot.

(4) Beldar made the following comment | Jan 3, 2012 11:03:04 AM | Permalink

I'm happy to have Newt contributing his ideas to the conservative cause. And I'm sure that if pressed, he would insist that he doesn't sympathize with Kerry over the SwiftVets. But Newt lacks thorough-going common sense.

The Newt that made this wise crack was the same one who sat on the couch with Nancy Pelosi -- the self-same Nancy Pelosi who was then setting new records for aggressive use, at tax-payer expense and with an enormous "carbon footprint," of government aircraft to ferry her from place to place to announce that we needed to pass Obamacare to see what was in it. Newt was entirely too comfortable on that couch.

And what offends me about this wisecrack isn't that it attacks Romney, but rather that it's entirely of a piece with the Washington viewpoint that mocked and dismissed the SwiftVets, and that rallied behind John Kerry and his tissue of lies and distortions about his military record.

Yes, I'll campaign and vote for him against Obama, if Newt somehow becomes the nominee. But I'd much, much rather than Newt gracefully return to the role of elder, retired statesman seen occasionally on cable news and Sunday morning talking-head shows.

(5) David made the following comment | Jan 3, 2012 3:19:01 PM | Permalink

Newt would make an excellent Presential Advisor (so long as he stayed an advisor rather than a decider).

(6) Milhouse made the following comment | Jan 4, 2012 2:13:59 AM | Permalink

But Beldar, that leaves you with...

(7) Beldar made the following comment | Jan 4, 2012 10:02:32 PM | Permalink

Milhouse: It leaves me with a firm conviction that the national GOP primary system needs to be comprehensively revised and reformed.

(8) TEWS_Pilot made the following comment | Jan 4, 2012 10:29:12 PM | Permalink

Here is the unofficial official definition of "Swiftboating" listed in "To Set the Record Straight: How Swift Boat Veterans, POWs, and the New Media Defeated John Kerry" by Scott Swett and Tim Ziegler from the Swiftvets and POWs for Truth movement in 2004:


Swiftboating: Exposing the lies, deceit and fraud of self-glorifying public officials or candidates for public office who exaggerate their military service by lying about feats of heroism or combat wounds.

(9) Dustin made the following comment | Jan 5, 2012 12:59:49 PM | Permalink

This is just another perfect is the enemy of the good argument.

The problem is that as that plays out, we really should say the mediocre is the enemy of the terrible, as we have eliminated the good options and are now eliminating the next best without noting if the guy behind is less awful.

We all are pretty sure Newt was not actually saying anything about John Kerry or the swift boaters. He was saying something about a negative campaigning, using slang he got completely wrong.

Big deal.

One problem for Newt is that he IS being Swift Boated. The personal attacks he's being hit with are largely accurate. But it is a shame to see the negativity from Romney. It's going to be so hard unifying around him. It is quite a test of how much the GOP hates Obama.

(10) Leon Dixon made the following comment | Jan 5, 2012 2:27:07 PM | Permalink

I want to add a point that I believe has been overlooked in the whole swift boat matter. I am Navy OCS a few classes before or after John Kerry, served at the same time. The US Navy had been a fairly small structure tied together by honor codes. As a young Ensign, and Naval Officer, I could by merely signing my name certify a document to be correct and that document would sail as high in the command structure as it needed to go without being questioned. As a Supply Officer I could write checks for cash in the millions of dollars on my signature.

I think the book missed this aspect of the Kerry dishonor. I think that is also why he has to refuse to open his records even to this day. I wager that the dishonest decorations awarded to Mr. Kerry were certified by himself only. The then system in the Navy had no firewalls against dishonest Officers. You may check with the author of the book but coming from that culture himself of being an Officer and a Gentleman by Act of Congress it probably did not occur to him to mention just how easy it was to falsify records. My opinion of Officer O'Neill and his book is that he and his patriots performed great service for the Nation.

(11) Dustin made the following comment | Jan 5, 2012 3:24:03 PM | Permalink

Unfortunately, I stand corrected thanks to Beldar's comment at Patterico's showing Newt comparing the swift vets to Michael Moore.

So... oh crap.

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