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Monday, May 30, 2005

Memo to McCain: The war was NOT "over".

Over at LUTD there's a little discussion going on (here and here) of McCain's appearance on CNN's Late Edition yesterday.

It seems among other little nuggets of worthlessness, in a segment where he was sort-a-kinda saying the Swift Liars were dishonorable in their attacks on Kerry, he comes out with this subtly vile bit of sputum:
BLITZER: The whole Vietnam War became such a powerful issue during the last campaign. Swift Boat Veterans for Truth really went after John Kerry during the campaign. Looking back on it now, how fair were they in skewering him? He himself had served in Vietnam, was injured there.

MCCAIN: Well, first of all, he and I had worked together to try to heal those wounds -- normalization of relations; resolution of the POW-MIA issue. And John Kerry is a friend of mine.

I didn't agree with what John Kerry did after the war was over when he came home.

Hello? Senator McCain? How much of your brain is still there and engaged? Or are you really working for Rove now?

Maybe I'm making more of this than I should, but frankly it's a little upsetting to me that no one else seems to see the significance of this, or care.

So, what's the big deal?

Because when John Kerry came home from Vietnam, the war was most definitely NOT over. As something like 30,000 familes found out - and that's just the number of American soliders killed after Kerry left Vietnam.

But what has me spitting mad is that the main point of Kerry's anti-war activity was to end the war. If the war was already over, then Kerry's action is demeaned and marginalized, as if he were just a snot-nosed rich kid who didn't like what happened to him in Vietnam and just wanted to complain about it to whoever would listen. Which is what the smear-vets and the Rove machine would be perfectly happy to have you think.

For someone like me, that McCain misstated the facts is obvious, and I would never be taken in. But what about folks less familiar with that period of our history, less familiar with the truth of John Kerry's actions, maybe slightly inclined to be against him anyway because of all the prior smears? Without fanfare or recognition, statements like that by McCain add another small piece to a mosaic used to create a false, negative image of Kerry. It is even more powerful because it is subtle, and said right after a show (only a show) of positive feeling: "John Kerry is a friend of mine." Sure, Senator McCain.

Now, this isn't just about McCain shivving Kerry while pretending to be making nice. This is a textbook example of creating an image of your subject in someone's mind, without them even realizing that you're doing it. Because the target audience is unaware of the impression being made, no thought is applied to validate that impression against known facts. The impression just sneaks in and takes a place among the other chips in the mosaic which forms the target's overall image of the subject.

But this case ticks me off especially because they are continuing to spread the smears on Kerry even as they "denounce" the smears. McCain's misstating the circumstances of Kerry's antiwar activity puts Kerry's actions in a less heroic light. Of course, people like McCain refuse to see it as heroic anyway; but there are those of us with family members who were spared from Vietnam by the success of the anti-war movement (and recognize the fact), and we beg to differ.

I guess the lesson that some learned from Vietnam is to believe the lies. When half the country chooses to believe we could have won if we'd just dropped more bombs, it's no wonder the same people choose to ignore the lies of Iraq. In some ways, the troops who are dying today ought to have their names on the Wall too.
You are so, so, sooooo right MH. That sniveling pasty faced liar! Oh! How dare he! I really think something is wrong with him mentally, though. I always did.

I don't worry about Kerry, however. And people won't understand no matter how much you try to tell them the truth and explain things. Kerry does it the best. There is a sincerity about him that people get.

God, these people!!
Last night I flipped on C-Span just in time to catch some of the remarks of Michael DePaulo at the "Rolling Thunder [Hatred]" Rally. Just in time to hear him say vile things about Kerry in the process of complaining about Bush not doing enough to support veterans (i.e., claiming his group didn't vote for Bush, they voted against Kerry). Well, they got what they deserved in electing Bush, is all I can say.

I never realized Rolling Thunder was such a republican front group before, but between what I saw of the rally (I didn't stay on the channel very long!) and a brief review of their web site, it is clear the vietnam veterans movement has been co-opted by corporate purveyors of hate and greed. So sad.

On a practical note, though, it would be nice to see anti-war veterans groups get as much good press as Rolling Hatred. They may not all fully embrace Kerry (since he's not anti-war enough), but the idea that people who have been to war are against it, and support a more nuanced view of conflict, sorely needs to be pushed front and center in our public discourse.
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