There is no question that the Swift Boat Vets’ ads are taking their toll on the Kerry campaign. Kerry wanted to make his Vietnam service the point around which his campaign would revolve, and his opponents have made Kerry’s actions and speeches after he got back from the war the issue. Kerry has already lost this costly battle. How he thought he would get away with it is a mystery to me. Take a look at the new ad the Swift Boat vets have put out. This is the ad that has been all over TV yesterday (although it won’t be used until next week.) A very serious ad, even better than the first, and is based on Kerry 1971 Senate Foreign Relations testimony. In the meantime some Vietnam vets in Viet Nam have come out in support of Kerry. I do not understand how Vets in Vietnam are supposed to be helpful to Kerry. This sends, shall we say, mixed signals. Glenn Reynolds thinks they may be working for Karl Rove! NRO has put out Kerry’s 1971 testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Read the whole thing by clicking here. Also take a look at Fred Barnes’ very good article in the latest Weekly Standard, "The Bloody Shirt is Back." He is very presuasive in arguing that this remarkable attempt on Kerry’s part to show his wounds (compare this JFK not doing it, or Ike, or George Bush senior) might backfire. I say it will.
And take note of Bill Kristol’s piece in the same issue. Powerful. His last two paragraphs:
"John Kerry was hostile, to say the least, to the exercise of American power in 1971. He remained so for the next three decades. John Kerry was critical--to say the least--of America’s claims to moral leadership as a nation in 1971. He has remained so ever since. More than any presidential candidate since George McGovern, John Kerry is a creature of the anti-Vietnam war movement. His entire public career makes clear that he was and is--and I use this term descriptively, not pejoratively--a McGovernite. The difference is that George McGovern acknowledged this. John Kerry doesn’t.
Another difference is that McGovern had the decency not to tout his war medals. Nor did McGovern claim to be "reporting to duty" when he made his case for the presidency. By indulging in that gesture, Kerry turned a spotlight on his Vietnam-era actions and invited scrutiny he may come to regret. Kerry’s attempt now to suppress this debate will not work. In effect, and without intending it, Kerry invited his fellow veterans to ’bring it on.’ So they have."