Democrats & Liberals Archives

'Tis the Season for Swiftboating

With less than 3 weeks to election day, and with political prognosticators predicting bad tidings for House and Senate Republicans, Republican candidates are calling more and more upon their front groups to do some swiftboating of their opponents. During this campaign season, you, as a voter, need to be careful not to succumb to the propaganda of swiftboaters.

A guy named Bob Perry ran Swift Boat Vets for Freedom, which smeared John Kerry as a phony Vietnam War hero, thereby managing to throw the presidency to Bush. Now Perry is back with a new front group called Economic Freedom Fund (EFF). This group is behind many other front groups that are busy smearing Democratic candidates.

EFF also does push polling. Someone calls and informs you that he is doing a survey. Then he proceeds to ask questions that impugn the character or is otherwise derogatory of a Democrat in a race. It's called a poll, but it is nothing but a negative ad. Push polling is illegal in many states.

EFF seems to be behind a lot of the swiftboating. But some Republican senatorial candidates have covertly organized front groups to benefit only their campaigns. Loud-mouthed Rick Santorum has a group called Softer Voices that works entirely for him.

Another Republican front group is Progress for America - Their specialty is TV ads telling American to be afraid of their security if Democrats win.

Here are 2 examples of outrageous front groups doing outrageous swiftboating:

  • AMERICAS PAC - They did a video ad in which a female announcer says:
    "Black babies are terminated at triple the rate of white babies. The Democratic Party supports these abortion laws that are decimating our people, but the individual's right to life is protected in the Republican platform. Democrats say they want our vote. Why don't they want our lives?

  • BLACK REPUBLICAN FREEDOM FUND - They are running ads that, believe it or not, say:
    Martin Luther King, Jr. Was a Republican.

To find out more about swiftboating, jump to The Pariot Project.

Don't depend on TV ads. Assume they are all fiction. Get the facts about the candidates from a neutral, objective and reliable source. Get it from the League of Women Voters.

Posted by Paul Siegel at October 19, 2006 5:28 PM
Comment #189114

Paul, have you heard about this nasty bit of fiction yet?

Posted by: Adrienne at October 19, 2006 9:45 PM
Comment #189150

Steele, running for senate in Maryland has an ad campaign in which he preemptively attacks, saying ‘The washington crowd will soon run ads saying that I hate puppies. For the record, I love puppies.’ He is a republican, but in none of his ads does he say so, nor is it stated on his campaign website. Is this the only other way a republican can run a successful ad? Don’t claim your party, maybe the voters won’t know any better. While he’s distracting with the rent-a-puppy he’s on the sneak attack. Though it’s possible this “nicer” form of swiftboating is more productive (Steele is still down pretty significantly in the polls, however) is it really any better?

Posted by: Erin at October 20, 2006 12:16 AM
Comment #189187

Paul - I’m sorry, but I don’t see what is outrageous about the Americas PAC ad you describe. Is the democrat being run against not in favor of abortion, and the republican not opposed? Is the black abortion rate not triple that of whites? Is something not factual?

What you like to call “swiftboating” I call telling the other side of the story. As far as I know people have a right to have an opinion and to be heard.

And, by the way, the so-called “swiftboating” goes both ways.

Posted by: nchoosier at October 20, 2006 8:38 AM
Comment #189189

All politicians have liars in their spin machines. There is absolutely nothing new here.

The Democrats invented swiftboating (they even named it)and have used it for a long time. Finally, the Republicans have figured out how to use it their advantage. Unfortunately, I think that they have sunk to the level of their competitors.

Posted by: Cliff at October 20, 2006 8:48 AM
Comment #189197

Is the democrat being run against not in favor of abortion, and the republican not opposed? Is the black abortion rate not triple that of whites? Is something not factual?

The implication of the ad is the the Democrat is reponsible for Black abortions. I do not believe that is true. Do you?

Posted by: Steve K at October 20, 2006 9:10 AM
Comment #189239

I don’t know whether a right-winger like yourself wants to allow something like this. After all, this message encourages an inappropriate lack of personal responsibility (people are responsible for the abortions they get) and a culture of victimhood (unfounded feelings of persecution.)

Moreover, it’s stupid. Why would Democrats intentionally kill future party members?

We invented Swiftboating? Support your claim. show me where Democrats astroturfed an organization into existence to question the record of somebody who had legitimately won honors.

You should look back to the heydays of Nixon if you want to see this kind of behavior. It’s a legacy the right should be doing its best to leave behind. It’s becoming an anchor chain around the ankle for them.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 20, 2006 12:00 PM
Comment #189274


A few things. First, Democrats did invent swiftboating, it just had a different name. It was called Borking. Further, by attempting to use his service as a political weapon in contrast to Bush’s (right about the same time, I might add, that Rather cooked up those fake documents attacking Bush’s time in the Guard) Kerry opened the door for scrutiny. Hell, when he accepted the nomination he said he was reporting for duty. In addition, he claimed that spending Christmas in Cambodia was a turning point in his life and there’s substantial evidence that says he was never there. He also can’t remember whether or not he threw his medals over the White House fence or lost them somewhere else. Finally, why didn’t Kerry release his service records like he said he would? Kerry tried to use his service as a weapon and it bit him in the ass, pure and simple. He had no conviction and came off like a damned mannequin. He voted for the war before he voted against it. The only thing he was consistent about was looking and sounding like he had no convictions except for the latest poll numbers. He lost that race for himself.

Posted by: 1LT B at October 20, 2006 1:23 PM
Comment #189294

“right about the same time, I might add, that Rather cooked up those fake documents attacking Bush’s time in the Guard)”

Everyone knows rove created those documents and fed them to CBS. He has a history of that kind of campaigning. You really think a 40 year veteran of investigative journalism would knowingly slander a sitting president?

Posted by: Observer at October 20, 2006 2:28 PM
Comment #189302

1LT B,

Wow, you’re swiftboating the history of swiftboating. You’re characterization is wrong though. Swiftboating is the act of attacking a political candidate using thinly veiled allegations that are difficult or impossible to actually prove, selling them using credible sounding yet invalid sources.

Borking, on the other hand, is to attack an individuals political or judicial views. It doesn’t include fabricating fiction out of thin air as the Swiftboaters did. The attacks on Bork were valid attacks; he had a long and well documented history of opposing civil rights decisions by the court. And it’s also well known that Bork hammered the nail in his own Supreme Court nomination by being overly arrogant and critical of past precedents.

Posted by: Grant at October 20, 2006 2:45 PM
Comment #189316

Paul Siegel,
I wonder if the Electronic Freedon Foundation can sue and collect millions from Bob Perry for infringing on their logo. Kinda like the
World Wildlife Fund and wrestling.

Being from Texas, I am hopeful that Kinky is elected, helps to reverse the Bob Perry lawsuit protection legislation that the Texas House passed, and people sue the bejesus of this corrupt thug.

I once knew a framer that worked for his house building company (Perry Homes) and quit because of the inferior lumber he put in his high end houses.

I also hope that after Tom Delay is convicted of illegal use of corporate money in Texas politics, they get an indictment against him and he can try selling his crap to his inmate buddies. A concrete supplier once told me he removes steel from foundation after inspections and shorts cement in his foundations.

If Kerry runs again, I will laugh loudly at the dirt that comes up on Perry and his corrupt politics. Kerry will torpedo his rich little swiftboat ass. He may have bought himself protection from some lawsuits, but not prosecution for fraud. While they are at it, I suspect John O’Neil might find himself disbarred.

William Schatche is another bribee awarded a $40 milion contract.

I wasn’t even a Kerry supporter, but this was real slime.

Payback is a bitch. Ha Ha Ha.

Posted by: gergle at October 20, 2006 3:45 PM
Comment #189318

Uh.. Speaking of “Swiftboating”… You guys wanna look at the timing on Foley?

Posted by: JSB at October 20, 2006 3:47 PM
Comment #189319

1LT B,

I would think as an officer in our US military you would support people who knew the most. Like Kerry and what he did after leaving the service or not, HE SERVED! Bush ran and hid behind his fathers back. Kerry placed his life on the line by choice.

You don’t have to like Kerry’s positions since he took office and you could make good arguments as to support him or not. But his record is the record. Even if we do’t know all if it, we know he at least has one. Bush doesn’t.

I can remember people (maybe not you personally) in your position who wouldn’t consider Clinton because he dodged the draft. The republicans made big issues out of other democratic candates who ran for president who used influence or other means to avoid serving in our military. Why do these people not hold the same standard for Bush?

Posted by: Rusty at October 20, 2006 3:53 PM
Comment #189335

Rusty, I don’t know of any Republicans who say that somebody has to serve in the military to serve in government. We supported Reagan over Carter didn’t we? And Carter was (I believe) a Navy officer.

In any case, Bush did serve as a pilot in the Texas Air National Guard, which counts as military service. Bush’s political opponents have raised questions about that time (none of it substantiated), and it doesn’t really matter anyway because nobody cares.

Posted by: Neo-Con Pilsner at October 20, 2006 4:49 PM
Comment #189374


They both servered in the reserves, it was not Bushes fault that Kerry’s unit was called up and not his.

Posted by: Keith at October 20, 2006 8:21 PM
Comment #189375


What do you call this dispicable and outrageous lie is in an ad by Wetterling in Minnesota.

“It shocks the conscience,” the ad for the Sixth District Democratic candidate begins. “Congressional leaders have admitted covering up the predatory behavior of a congressman who used the Internet to molest children.”

Whose swiftboating whom?

Posted by: Keith at October 20, 2006 8:31 PM
Comment #189403

The term “swiftboating” should not be used in this fashion.

To me, swiftboating is when an honorable watch-dog organization composed of patriotic Americans come forth to puncture the lies told by a dishonorable politician.

I think that what we’re really talking about here is a word that was already in our political vocabulary, one that describes the situation when dishonorable individuals come forth to lie and smear. That term is “borking.”

Posted by: Neo-Con Pilsner at October 21, 2006 12:06 AM
Comment #189406

Kerry enlisted. He was never in the guard or the reserves. Bush signed up for the Texas Air National Guard. It’s military service the same way that reading to the kids at a library is community service. It doesn’t quite qualify as such, though, the same way that constructing a new library or homeless shelter does. Kerry actually risked life and limb in real combat.

As for Foley, I think you could say that its a variation on the old notion that its not paranoia if they really are out to get you. Well, it’s not swiftboating, if things really are that bad, if not worse. The charges against Kerry are founded on bad assumptions. testimony from people who contradict their own citations and previous public statements. I mean, should it register as some kind of coincidence that the leader of the group is the same guy Nixon recruited to lead an astroturfed pro-Vietnam veterans group and who debated Kerry on Dick Cavett?

1LT B-
I read some of that stuff, and the invective was just laid on so thick it wasn’t funny. Everytime they could assume the worse they did. I was shocked at the venomous nature of it.

On the subject of Cambodia, its more than likely he did go there, though whether or not it was on Christmas is debateable. People do conflate memories. After all, Reagan recounted rather convincingly a war story only for others to recall that the memory was out of one of the movies he made. Did Reagan intentionally lie? No. It’s called source amnesia, and its very common.

As for conviction? Not all people are demonstrative and charismatic. If we rely on that alone to determine who’s best for the office, we will end up doing more damage with folks like Bush and Clinton.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 21, 2006 12:21 AM
Comment #189407


He did enlist.

“On February 18, 1966, Kerry enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve. He began his active duty military service on August 19. After completing sixteen weeks of Officer Candidate School at the U.S. Naval Training Center in Newport, Rhode Island, Kerry received his officer’s commission on December 16.”

I’m not sure what the reference to Foley was. Any comment on the Wetterling ad?

Posted by: Keith at October 21, 2006 12:30 AM
Comment #189412

Stephen, terrible analogy.

Reading to kids at a library is far more likely to be considered community service than building the library would be (a private construction firm would do that). But okay, that was just a sloppy analogy.

But your larger point is just as bad. Reservists and the National Guard play a major role in our war efforts. Last I heard, reservists and Guardsmen were something like 40% of our forces in Iraq.

Posted by: Neo-Con Pilsner at October 21, 2006 1:11 AM
Comment #189419


I suppose Karl Rove also shoots lightning bolts from his fingers and was responsible for the Massacre at the Jedi Temple too. Really, do you have any idea how ridiculous you sound?


I tend to disagree a bit. The Democrats didn’t like Bork’s views, but that’s not what they’re supposed to decide. They’re supposed to decide whether or not a candidate is qualified, which Bork was. Hell, the Republicans allowed Ginsburg on the Supreme Court.


I don’t support Kerry because I disagree with his views. Further, based on the fact that in my opinion he spit on his military service by his conduct afterwards, I feel no need to back him up. Like I said, he opened himself up to scrutiny by playing his service as a weapon. It would be like if I was running for office and claimed a shot a bunch of Iraqis and I hadn’t. Especially disturbing to me is that he claims spending Christmas in Cambodia was a turning point in his life but it would appear he was never there. Also, I grant this is a stretch, but but one could twist your logic to say that those generals who’ve come out criticizing Rumsfeld are wrong too. Being proud of one’s service is fine, lying about it for political gain is bullshit.


We usually disagree, but you’re very intelligent so I’m going to assume that that comment about the Guard described the sitation in Vietnam and not today. Please clarify.

Posted by: 1LT B at October 21, 2006 4:24 AM
Comment #189457

1LT B-
Well, Bush joined a unit unlikely to get called into combat and specified that he not be posted overseas. And yes, this was Vietnam and not today. Bush was a strong proponent of the war, yet avoided combat, and Kerry had his doubts about the war, yet when the time came he decided to serve, and go into combat. Though the swiftvets made out like he was a coward, a fool, and a charlatan, the records showed that he performed his duties rather well.

To say that Kerry lied about his record is to accept the unsubstantiated charges made against him by the SwiftVets.

Damage reports show bullet holes where Swiftvets claim there was no fire. The one Swiftvet who was around for a medal winning effort (The Silver Star) states clearly that he earned it; he only came to question the other medals second-hand after conversations with the SwiftVets. One SwiftVet stated there was no gunfire in the same incident where he won a bronze star whose citation mentions enemy fire. A report supposedly authored by Kerry to falsify a story for a medal bears has the wrong initials altogether, and he never had the opportunity to write it anyways.

These guys even jumped on a typo that some clerk made to suggest that Kerry was trying to lie about his medals.

Even two of them supported Kerry in past elections. Many of them never served with them. Their claim that they have his entire chain of command is undermined by the absences of key officers in that lineup.

Their financing was largely from Republican donors. One author of the book Unfit for Command was revealed to be the author of a number of viciously bigotted postings on the FreeRepublic site, . The other author helped Nixon set up another Astroturfed organization in the Vietnam Era, and in fact once debated Kerry on Dick Cavett. He parroted the talking points of the time, which history invalidated with the failure of Vietnamization and the fall of Saigon. Comments from one commanding officer were related second hand after his death. Admiral Hoffman, who headed up the group, has a conflict of interest in terms of Kerry’s criticisms of Hoffman’s rather unproductive “Fly the Flag” missions.

There are so many false flags being flown over the ship that is the SwiftVets. One thing is clear, they are a sad relic of the politicization of two wars, both where control and legitimacy of the war were jealously guarded, and both where failures of tactics and leadership made success more and more distant as time went on. America should not fight wars where credulity is the price of loyalty. The very reason that America works and that it usually wins wars is our nation’s ability to move on from its mistakes. America is most damaged when a party prevents it from doing so. We Democrats allowed the mistake of slavery to persist, jealously claiming it as a states right. That lead to the Civil War. We would again fail our nation when we failed to support civil rights until the middle of the last century.

The Republicans would fail in the 1800’s and early parts of the last century to allow America to move on from the beginning errors of industrial capitalism. The Republicans failed to allow America to learn from the real mistakes of China, (the support of archaic, corrupt regimes in the place of newer, more dynamic forms of government), and thereby laid the foundation for the error that the Democrats and Republicans both made in supporting an ill-defined and poorly strategized war in Vietnam. The Democrats failed to learn from the economic errors of LBJ, the Republicans from those of Reagan.

But where America has simply dedicated itself to a purpose, we’ve excelled. We’ve changed the world with our inventions, with our form of government, with our culture and our acceptance of all races, religions and cultures within our borders. I’d say that the culture war has been one largely lost on all sides, that the hyperpartisanship of the last few decades has only increased the weakness of America, a partisanship that we are all responsible for.

The America of today must stop living in the past. Conservatives of today must learn how to successfully live and institute their cherished principles in a changed and continually changing time. Liberals of today must learn how to bring change and reform in a tough but fair manner, and bring legitimacy to the greater role of government they ask with fiscal responsibility, efficiency of operation, and a open awareness of the context within which we ask our regulations and rules to act. We must not counter the clueless rejection of government intervention with the clueless embrace of it.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 21, 2006 2:12 PM
Comment #189544


Bush, recent GOP fundraiser in Alabama:

“Five years after 9-11, Democrats offer nothing but criticism, and obstruction and endless second guessing. The Democratic Party — the party of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Harry Truman — has become the party of cut-and-run.”

Hold it right there, faux cowboy. “Second guessing?” Weren’t most Democrats were right from the beginning? You know, against your pre-emptive illegal war in Iraq based on lies.
And “Cut and Run” did you say?

The Iraqi government is going to have to take over its country’s security “sooner rather than later,” Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Friday, as the violence there continued to escalate.
Rumsfeld said U.S. officials, including Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, are working with the Iraqi government to develop projections as to when they think they can pass off various pieces of responsibility. He provided no detail.
“The biggest mistake would be to not pass things over to the Iraqis, create a dependency on their part, instead of developing strength and capacity and competence,” said Rumsfeld. “It’s their country, they’re going to have to govern it, they’re going to have to provide security for it, and they’re going to have to do it sooner rather than later. And that means they’ve got to take pieces of it as we go along.”

“Sooner rather than later”. Now, this either means: “cut and run” from their mountain of failure, or possibly: “we know the election is “sooner” — but maybe “later” we can continue our occupation for oil, and keep making our troops “stay the course” in the middle of Iraq’s civil war. Hey, we might even still manage to avoid all criticism and accountability!”
Hard to tell what these madmen ever mean.
Oh, but Neocons mentioning “strength and capacity and competence” is just so bloody ironic!

Posted by: Adrienne at October 22, 2006 1:09 AM
Comment #189547


I guess your’re much better at reading between the lines then I am. what Rumsfield said is exactly what he abd the President have been saying since the beginning. The goal is to turn Iraq over to the Iraqi people to govern and secure for themselves. What did he say that was different then that?

Also the votes for the Iraq war resolution were, 77-23 and 296-133 in the Sentate and the House respectively. Hardly the Republicans going it alone.

Posted by: Keith at October 22, 2006 1:21 AM
Comment #189594
Don’t depend on TV ads. Assume they are all fiction.

Strongly agree.

Get the facts about the candidates from a neutral, objective and reliable source.

Sadly, this does not exist.

Get it from the League of Women Voters.

Hmmm …

Posted by: ubermike67 at October 22, 2006 2:01 PM
Comment #189595

Isn’t it funny how what goes around comes around.

It used to be hippy, anti-establishment liberals wearing the rose colored glasses. Now it is conservative Bush/Iraq supporters who are wearing the rose colored glasses.

Posted by: jlw at October 22, 2006 2:11 PM
Comment #189634

Paul, are there any Democrats who you would like to point out and criticize for benefiting from swiftboating?

I’m trying to discern whether your criticism is against the practice itself, or just when employed by the GOP.

I’m not trying to bait you. I am trying to get some clarification on your actual complaint. Thanks.

Posted by: Wulf at October 22, 2006 8:24 PM
Comment #189685

My read on this is that the Bush White House has had no problems setting reasonable long term goals. It’s just that they started from doctrine in both their reasoning for starting the war, and their approach to fighting it, and they’ve fixated on their doctrines to the exception of really observing what’s going on. It doesn’t help things that the main leaders have big egos that get bruised when people even suggest that things aren’t working because of their decisions.

To put it plainly, these people lack the humility and groundedness to effectively lead. Folks need to be able to let their vanity take a few hits in order to take care of their problems.

As for the vote? The Bush administration said that a threat from Iraq was a certainty, and Bush had used his newfound popularity to unite Americans behind facing that. Short of good information that things weren’t as Bush said they seemed to be, That they could actually speak to, who can blame them for voting for it, especially after 9/11. Bush is the one responsible for their votes. It was his duty to tell them the truth, so they could decide things properly for America. Instead, he restricted their access and told them of certainties in the intelligence that did not truly exist. If the agencies’ doubts had been voiced in the declassified information America got, to the extent that it was in the classified intelligence, then Americans might not have gone to war. What we have here is agenda overwhelming observation, politics pre-empting clean analysis of the situation.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 23, 2006 11:39 AM
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