On Monday's front page, reporter Kate Zernike continued to fight valiantly for the liberal version of the Lost Cause - the restoration of John Kerry's Vietnam reputation. She took another line of attack, the passive-aggressive approach, lamenting how the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth campaign against Kerry has rendered the very name "Swift Boat" a perjorative ("Veterans Long to Reclaim the Name 'Swift Boat'"). Missing from her report, as Bruce Kesler noticed: It's the left that coined the term in the first place.
"Swift boat" has become the synonym for the nastiest of campaign smears, a shadow that hangs over the presidential race as pundits wait to proclaim that the Swiftboating has begun and candidates declare that they will not be Swiftboated.
Swift boat veterans - especially those who had nothing to do with the group that attacked Senator John Kerry's military record in the 2004 election - want their good name back, and the good names of the men not lucky enough to come home alive.
Sure, Watergate will never be just the office complex. And the name Willie Horton will always refer to more than just a criminal. But for Swift boat veterans, the name theft is more personal. When they talk about Swift boats, they recall friends and crewmates killed, countless moments of sheer terror in their young lives, the pain of coming home to a country that offered less than a hero's welcome.
"It's completely inappropriate," said Michael Bernique, a highly regarded Swift boat driver who led missions up a canal that became known as Bernique's Creek. "The word should connote service with honor, which is what was conducted. Anything that demeans that honor is shameful."
After strongly implying, inher amazingly slanted June 22 story, that all the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth's allegations had been undermined in 2004, Zernike appeared to climb down from that claim a bit on Monday, stating:
Navy documents contradicted many of their accusations, but the claims undermined what Democrats had hoped would be Mr. Kerry's strength.
(In fact, at least one of those "contradictions" redounded upon Kerry, who during the 2004 campaign had to take back his famous "Christmas in Cambodia" claim, after evidence showed his boat never came within 50 miles of the Cambodian border. The Times has rarely if ever mentioned that fact in its sliming of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.)
Zernike interviewed veterans unhappy with the way the name has become tainted, including Fred Short:
The new meaning of Swift boat stings worst for the men who served with Mr. Kerry, who say that, by implication, the attacks tarnished their military decorations. "I don't have a lot in this world - my service means a whole lot to me," Mr. Short said. "It's been besmirched, I guess would be a good word. Whether they meant it or not."
Zernike didn't talk to any of the many Vietnam Veterans who felt "besmirched" when Kerry came home and testified before Congress that they had committed war crimes.
And again, just how did "Swift Boat Veterans" become a loaded term in the first place? Through the liberal media. Noel Sheppard at NewsBusters uncovers the hypocrisy in Zernike lamenting the use of the term "Swift Boating" when the Times itself has used the same term for years to characterize conservative attacks on left-wing icons like Cindy Sheehan.
Journalist Thomas Lipscomb has an extremely useful rundown at the Huffington Post, of all places (hat tip NewsBusters reader Bingo), reminding readers that Kerry has never released his complete military records to the public either before or after the election. Kerry releasedthem to three news organizations (The L.A. Times, the Associated Press and Boston Globe) only after the election. Lipscomb also fished this from the NYT's memory hole:
In May of 2006, Kerry announced a "Patriot Project" that was going to expose the lies of the Swift Boat vets. The New York Times thought that was front-page news. No one ever heard of the "Patriot Project" again. Whatever and whoever it was never "exposed" a single lie.
Zernike, no surprise, authored that story as well.