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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Swift Boating as a Political Technique

Perhaps this all began before 2004, but the name, swift boating, came into being then as the technique of snide comments, accusations that can't be proven, that don't necessarily relate to facts, where false conclusions are thrown around to bury any real issues. It was a way to get someone, usually not the candidate, to put out quick accusations against their opposition that have nothing to do with issues.

It was effectively used on John Kerry to get the voting populace to forget what a lousy job Bush had done as president, that he had personally avoided combat when he had his own chance, but liked to parade around like a war hero. It served to bury the issue that Bush himself had most likely not been responsible in his own National Guard duty. With swift boating, Bush is/was not the issue.

Swift boating will be used until it stops working-- until people care about real issues, not the ten second soundbite that often isn't even true.

It isn't like only Republicans do this. Hillary Clinton's camp just used it against Barack Obama. When David Geffen was interviewed by Maureen Dowd for the NY Times, he said some things that we all know are true about Bill Clinton, and he gave his unflattering opinion regarding Hillary. She didn't directly attack, as she supposedly stayed above the fray; but her campaign head was sent out to attack Barack Obama for what Geffen said. The accusation was Obama was somehow responsible and should give back the money raised. Getting him to insult those who had supported him would be a nice added touch to the financial loss. Never mind that it didn't make sense. Swift boat attacks are never about logic.

We see it frequently with the right wing of the Republican party. The latest is again attacking Al Gore, even though he's not currently a candidate. He is the one reminding Americans to conserve. Don't think about the fact that conservatives should believe in conservation if their name means anything. Never mind that by using so much oil, we are funding terrorists in the Middle East. Swift boating is not about facts.

This week, Gore was attacked for supposedly having high energy bills for the mansion where he and his wife live and work. His electric bill has averaged over $1300 a month. How irresponsible (don't ask what mine runs for a much smaller house)! Swift boaters never look into facts, nor do they want you to do so. If they did, they might find out he voluntarily pays an energy surcharge to use renewable energy sources, a green tax, and that he is installing solar panels.

Swift boating is about nasty comments intended to catch the attention of a shallow populace who don't want to be bothered researching anything and love hearing what fits their prejudices.

This week I read that a famous hunter-- not known to me-- has lost his program on an outdoor television network, his endorsements from gun companies, and the approval of the National Rifle Association. Now what horrible act could cause that to happen? Perhaps he did something reckless like shoot a hunting companion? Maybe he wrote an editorial saying he didn't like Bush? No, it was something far worse. In an interview, he dared say assault rifles have no place in hunting and are tools of terrorists. He apologized profusely, but it was too late.

Tell me, why does any citizen have the need to own a weapon that is only intended to kill people? They aren't legal for hunting. Would you eat a deer blown apart by a barrage of bullets? With an assault rifle, you wouldn't find enough left of a rabbit to think about eating.

In an era where terrorism is rampant, where we have so many nuts running around ready to be offended and kill someone at the least provocation, why is it so important to the gun lobby to keep assault rifles in the general population? Could it be money and they convince a bunch of nutty militia types that they need them in case their own government tries to take their liberties-- never mind that no assault rifle could stand against the might of the US military, never mind they didn't care when the Bush team took away those very liberties with eliminating Habeas Corpus for anybody even accused of terrorism. Never mind that we are supposed to be stopping terrorism-- homegrown or otherwise. This is about.. Never mind that either. It's swift boating and does not have to be about anything that makes sense.

In the past, my husband belonged to the NRA, but he quit when their dedication to the ownership of assault rifles became disgusting to him. There are many militia groups across this country and not all of them use any better sense than terrorists, but heaven forbid we should take away their assault rifles-- not that they'd give them up anyway.

This is the technique of the right today. Attack anyone who dares dissent. Attack as they did the Dixie Chicks who, before the Iraqi war began, said they were ashamed that Bush came from their state. Today a lot of people would say that, but truth is heresy to a lot of the far right.

Those of us who don't like it need to confront swift boating wherever we see it, call out distortions and lies for what they are. Today, hard to believe as it is, the majority of the Republican party apparently still believe in Bush. A recent poll says Republicans support him by more than 75%. We see the results of that with the Congress on any measure that might call the White House to account.

One third of American citizens think Bush and Cheney are right on, and they will defend them no matter what they do. This week, when Cheney's reckless, bullheadedness in visiting Afghanistan (who knows for what reason) led to possibly as many as 23 people being killed by a suicide bomber, his 30% will doubtless see this as proving he's brave and was right all along-- not sure about what. Cheney and his devoted followers won't question why the country we left unfinished to attack Iraq is now so dangerous that he had to sneak in with only terrorists knowing he was there. Ever wonder why they knew that? Thank goodness Cheney was not injured or worse, but his administration has ignored the history of Afghanistan in their planning... if you can loosely call what they do planning. The chance to make a real difference in the Middle East was botched. They won't face that. They will blame it on someone else and swift boating is their technique of choice.

Yes, this was a rant... I feel so angry today and I don't like that feeling. I am also concerned because so many people let this technique influence their thinking. It works because of laziness and an unwillingness, for those still capable of reasoning, to research issues.

People who like swift boaters (and many Republicans think it's a great way to win) will be donating money to their politicians. The ones of us who think otherwise need to not only speak up (even if it's done by our own side) but also put our money where our heart is! Let our politicians know that technique doesn't work with us. Remind them to stick to the issues and when someone else swift boats them, immediately call it out for what it is-- desperate techniques used by those who have no real answers.

And we need to do it today, not tomorrow. It's later than we think.


Anonymous said...

Rainy, you couldn't have said this better: "I am also concerned because so many people let this technique influence their thinking. It works because of laziness and an unwillingness, for those still capable of reasoning, to research issues".
It's still hard for me to believe that people hear these commercials and BELIEVE them. It can't be that people are really that stupid - so it has to be as you stated. Great blog, thanks.

Ingineer66 said...

OK lots to comment on here.

I agree that swiftboating is BS, but you start off by saying that the Hillary camp is doing it, then go on a long tirade to bash Republicans like they invented it. It works and that is why both political parties are doing it, the practice was perfected by the first Clinton campaign and now both sides are doing it. "Don't address the issue, attack the messenger." That is what Dick Morris and James Carville became famous for. Attack Monica Lewinsky or Paula Jones don't talk about the guy that they were messing around with.

Now as for Al Gore's carbon footprint. Why is he just now installing solar panels to offset his use in one month of double the average annual electricity use. He has been leading the environmental charge for 25 years. He should have had solar panels since the 1970s or at least since the 1990s when he really started talking the talk. But it is typical liberal behavior. Everyone else should do what I say, but don't look at what I do. Kind of like Arriana Huffington telling us to reduce greenhouse emissions but she flies around the country in her personnel jet and gets to the airport in her two large suvs that are in her garage.

As for the Cheney visit. Whether you agree with his politics or not. He has a duty to visit other heads of state and to visit the troops in a war zone. Are you saying that he should not travel because someone might attack him? Are you saying that it is his fault that a bomber attacked the base and killed people? That is nobody's fault except the bomber and the people who gave him the bomb.
The other day you were saying that we should be doing more in Afhganistan and Pakistan. He was there to do just that and now you are saying he shouldnt be there. This sounds like Congress, they are saying do something different in Iraq then the President says ok I will do something different then Congress says no dont do that, do something different. So what does Congress want to do? They dont know, they dont have any better plan they just want to throw rocks at Bush. Either have some balls and come up with a plan and dont be afraid to inact your plan or shut up for a while and let the person that has a plan and will actually act on it without waiting to see which way the wind is blowing try his plan.

Assault weapons. I dont own one and I dont see the sporting need for one. But I do not want to outlaw the possesion of them. I dont always agree with the extreme stance that the NRA holds on issues, but it is a slippery slope. Why dont the libs want to debate a ban on late term abortions? It is a horrid practice that most Americans dont like and really has nothing to do with Roe v. Wade.

Rain Trueax said...

Cheney had to sneak into that country and in going there, what did he accomplish besides ending the lives of 23 people? I would see a reason for him to go if he was accomplishing something but politicans don't do something by just appearing somewhere-- they grandstand. What Cheney did to lead to this was be part of the team who decided not to get Bin Laden when they could possibly have done so in Tora Bora and took most of our troops out of Afghanistan when the war wasn't over.

I have a link that I will be using with the next blog on us and Iraq... the history of it and what the Cheneys of the government have been doing for a lot of years. But for those who are entranced by Republican leadership, they won't believe it or care.

As for Gore and electricity. You are free to feel as you want but you are citing swift boating techniques. It's not whether he personally totally walks the walk, but is he right about conservation. That is the issue. But if he is paying extra for renewable energy, he is walking it.

Swiftboating is about ignoring the issue and focusing on something else. The issue is conserve and what does attacking Gore accomplish in that goal? Nothing and you know it. That only convinces others to quit trying to do any part. That is swift boating and whenever the focus is taken off the issue, it worked.

Most of what I mentioned was Republican because right now they had the most immediate examples out there. I mentioned the instance of Democrats doing it TODAY. I wish everybody would get it through their heads, that what was done before doesn't make what is done today right. I also mentioned that the technique might have been used before but the term is from 2004.

Rain Trueax said...

ah yes and on assault rifles and the slippery slope... Why not let ordinary citizens own working tanks then? slippery slope? I would stop late term abortions and am very much pro choice to a point. People who are capable of thinking know how to draw the line. You don't have to ban the sale of all alcohol to say that somebody who overindulges can be arrested. The very worry about a slippery slope with assault rifles is a swift boating technique. They are not the same as automatic rifles or handguns.

OldLady Of The Hills said...

We live in terrible times in so very many ways, Rain...the unwarrented and inauthentic attacks on good people---well, it is so like what the tabloids do---only this is so much worse.....I am angry, too....where will this all end? It seems as if it is getting worse and worse. The whole thing with Hillary & Obama...really David Geffen, and Hillary's henchman....OY!
And now this attack on Gore--it is Soooo FOX NEWS! I don't watch them, but I hear about it....They are shameless, shameless people who run that company!

I LOVE Maureen Dowd, don't you?

Ingineer66 said...

OK maybe I was reading more into your comments than you originally meant. On assault weapons we are going to have to agree to disagree. We even let families in Iraq keep one Assault Rifle for protection.

Rain Trueax said...

And the fact that Iraqis, who are engaged in slaughtering each other, can each have an assault rifle, says you it's a good idea for each family here to have one too???? Amazing...

and yes, Old Lady of the Hills, I always like Dowd's columns. She really says it like it is :)

Ingineer66 said...

I am saying that each family should have the choice to have one if they want. I also believe that we should strcitly enforce the laws that we already have involving violent crimes. The happy feel good crowd that wants to blame the weapon for the crime is who I disagree with. Besides if the Muslims want to come here and start slaughtering people like the DC sniper or the Utah mall shooter then yes maybe we need to be armed to protect ourselves. I am not advocating a return to the old west, just personal choice. And I do know one person that owns an AR-15 and one that owns some other AK-47 type rifle and they havent shot anything with them except milk jugs and paper targets. Other than the military look they are not much different mechanically than the Mini-14 that is probably somewhere on your property.

Rain Trueax said...

As you said, we will have to agree to disagree. As it stands, people like the recent shooter at the Salt Lake City mall could have had that weapon which would have made the carnage much greater than it was with a shotgun. The issue though was raised by me based on swift boating. I went on with why I don't like the idea of people being able to buy assault rifles or machine guns or tanks, but the reason I brought it up was what happened to a man who dared to speak what he believed-- that it's the weapon of choice for terrorists. So back to the issue-- does that make sense to you that we have a group out there that will use fear of losing jobs, of being harrassed as a reason for not speaking their minds? It wasn't that the outdoor station waited to see if this guy would lose viewers, they just immediately canceled the show out of fear that they would be harrassed also

Anonymous said...

You're beautiful when you're ranting! Well, actually, you're also beautiful when you're not. I so wish the line of thinking you espouse would catch on. All of politics, all parties, all candidates, have become so dirty and rotten and full of lies and half-truths.

I have no clue if it can even be changed, much less how to begin to do so. But I am afraid you are right... it is later than we think...

Ingineer66 said...

Ditto what Winston said especially the first part. :-) I think it is terrible that in politics we attack the messenger instead of addressing the issue. I would like it to change, but it appears to work with voters for now so until there is a public backlash it will probably continue.

Anonymous said...

Political dirty tricks exist and that is a fact. However, it is not wrong to point out a candidate's or an incumbent's flaws. A lot of people who put GWBs feet to the fire give Kerry or others a pass. It is a fool who fails to see that politics is an inherently dirty business. It amazes me that despite the nature of politics we still accomplish some things in spite of ourselves.

Rain Trueax said...

I agree, Paul, that when we overlook our own side's wrong doing, we have no hope in fixing anything. Incidentally, a lot of democrats were more pleased than even republicans when Kerry misspoke again and ended any chance of his being a candidate for the presidency again.

Anonymous said...

And bravo to YOU for standing up! I couldn't add a thing to all you said here except...good for you for having the conviction to speak up and speak out.


Amdocs is blackmailing America's "leaders." That's why they're making such insane decisions: