Andrew Busch article explains "Kerrys Moment of Peril." Busch is very clear on attack on Kerry: "The attack has two parts, which together form a serious threat to Kerry’s position in the race. First, the Swift Boat Veterans allege that Kerry’s heroics in the Vietnam War were overstated and his wounds minor. Second, they insist on reminding voters of Kerry’s scurrilous conduct after he returned from service, when he devoted his energy to serving as a font of sound-bites for the North Vietnamese propaganda machine."
Taken by themselves these allegations dont seem to be enough to derail a presidential campaign, so why have these charges taken their toll? The answer is that Kerry has staked almost everything on biography (almost to the exclusion of political record, or issues). So the thrust of the first Swift Boat Veterans’ attack brought into question whether Kerry’s self-image from Vietnam was accurate. But the second line of attack which stands on its own, and does not depend on the first. Busch: "Indeed, one could concede that Kerry’s version of his Vietnam service was entirely correct and still turn against him on the basis of his later activity. After all, whether one is a war hero might be said to depend on the overall degree to which one contributed to the military cause of one’s country. We do not call Benedict Arnold a war hero, even though he led the charge that broke the British at Saratoga. His subsequent betrayal negates Saratoga, as Kerry’s subsequent behavior leaves open the question of whether he cost more lives—American and Vietnamese—out of uniform than he saved while in uniform. To the extent that his actions contributed to the victory of Stalinism in Indochina, it is obtuse to consider him a war hero in any meaningful sense." Touche!