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.