Condemning character assassination

I’ve been meaning to comment about John Quiggin’s recent short post on the US elections. John said:

The crucial issue is to determine which candidate has the better record on Vietnam, and will therefore make the better president. As I understand it:

  • Kerry fought in Vietnam, but then came back and denounced the war
  • Bush didn’t fight, but supported the war
  • There are a lot of memos
  • That seems to be all I need to know. Have I missed anything important?

    Well, actually there is a pretty salient fact that John has studiously overlooked. The memos he refers to have been fairly conclusively shown to be fakes, created by Kerry sympathisers. This article in The Age sums events up pretty succinctly, and the dreaded Tim Blair has been following developments with microscopic closeness for anyone who wants more detail.

    This sort of fraud and calculated character assassination needs to be forthrightly condemned by everyone, irrespective of their political orientation. Cutely disingenuous statements like “there are a lot of memos” do John no credit. By the same token, I haven’t noticed Tim Blair condemning the equally odious activities of the so-called “Swift Boat Veterans“, who might more appropriately (if verbosely) be titled “Republican Swift Boat Veterans with such a complete lack of moral fibre that they have no compunction about character-assassinating a fellow veteran for cheap political gain“. The truism that “evil triumphs when good men do nothing” is worth keeping in mind in these days of scientific negative campaigning and wedge politics..

    About Ken Parish

    Ken Parish is a legal academic, with research areas in public law (constitutional and administrative law), civil procedure and teaching & learning theory and practice. He has been a legal academic for almost 20 years. Before that he ran a legal practice in Darwin for 15 years and was a Member of the NT Legislative Assembly for almost 4 years in the early 1990s.
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    mark
    2022 years ago

    A few people have said that what was in the memos was true, even though they themselves were fake (that is, Bush really did dodge the draft, and even that was done in a half-arsed way; and the man who supposedly dictated the memos really did hold the opinions therein). In other words, “the memos may as well be true.”

    This is, it seems to me, akin to what gooses like PB are saying about Children Overboard: “the reffos may as well have thrown their children overboard, even if they didn’t actually do it.” However, there is a point to be made.

    The fact that some idiot doctored up some memos and gave the ‘blogospheric Right something to do besides wank to pictures of Bush, should not distract from the fact that Bush did dodge the draft. Now, I’m of the opinion that dodging the draft was not exactly a bad sort of thing for someone to have done during Vietnam: but is a draft-dodger really qualified to have a go at opponents of war?

    Michael
    Michael
    2022 years ago

    Actually I think the Swiftboat guys admitted to a healthy dose of revenge taking as their main motive, brought about principally by Kerry’s attacks on most of the Vietnam veterans a few years ago – what was it he falsely accused them of? oh that’s right, tame stuff like murder, rape, torture etc.
    Sounds like “character-assassinating” for political gain to me.
    Even if none of the swifties claims were proven (you’d have to ignore Kerry’s lies about Cambodia – yes that’s real, proven lies, not a “balance of probabilities lie) you would have to try hard to find character assassination anywhere near as despicable and torrid as Kerry’s testimonies against Vietnam veterans.

    Jason Soon
    Jason Soon
    2022 years ago

    “gave the ‘blogospheric Right something to do besides wank to pictures of Bush”

    aaarggh!! you’re giving me nightmares …

    Scott Wickstein
    2022 years ago

    Excuse me but the US has a little problem to do with Iraq, the budget over there is out of control, and there’s huge shifts in policy on a range of matters (stem cells, gay marriage etc), and we have the two sides rabbitting on about stuff that happened in the 1970s?

    It’s only me, I guess, but something’s wrong with this picture.

    Ken Parish
    Ken Parish
    2022 years ago

    Scott

    Yes, it’s a more than valid point, and of course it’s to that disparity in importance that JQ’s irony/sarcasm was directed. And quite rightly so. But the fraudulent character assassination should at least have been explicitly acknowledged by John. That was my point, and I think it’s an important one (although I also accept that the Republicans’ semi-successful diversion tactic is a much bigger point to make).

    L.F. Brown
    2022 years ago

    I think Clinton recently told Kerry to speak less of Vietnam and more on Healthcare. A good relevant point and I wonder if Kerry had not emphasised Vietnam so much during the campaign would the Swiftboat controversy been so big, although I know that O’Neill & Co. have had it in for Kerry for decades.

    Whether the two candidate’s personal record during Vietnam should be a big deal is a good question. Is there some kind of empirical correlation between a President’s abilities/record during a war and his effectiveness as the Commander-in-Chief? Do good advisers and good policy overwhelmingly trump personal experience in the field?

    As for character assassinations….the truth should trump, whether it be about the memos or Kerry’s service.

    mark
    2022 years ago

    Actually, Michael, they’re not “real, proven lies”; the bit about Kerry not going to Cambodia is supported by a) him not mentioning a classified black op in his diary, and b) one of the Swift Vets saying “duh, he was too far away on the night” (even though he in fact wasn’t). Hardly “proven”.

    And Kerry never accused any of the Swift Vets of rape, murder, and suchlike. He said that some vets (unnamed, and almost certainly not any of the Swift Vets) had told him that they had committed atrocities.

    C’mon, Michael, this isn’t even a case of getting your news from FOX, because even FOX are more ethical than to smear Kerry in such a way. The information you refer to is the sort of stuff peddled by the more extreme righ-wing ‘blogs, like LGF or that idiot Misha.

    Yobbo
    Yobbo
    2022 years ago

    Hang on a second, unless I am mistaken John Kerry has made repeated (to the point of monotonous) reference to his vietnam service and subsequent purple heart medals during his campaign. George W. Bush has not.

    If Kerry is going to campaign on his vietnam service, he should expect to have it examined in great detail. And Ken, what leads you to believe that the claims of the Swift Boat veterans are untrue? Kerry’s already been shown to be lying about his “Christmas in Cambodia” story. What else is he remembering incorrectly?

    Peter Murphy
    2022 years ago

    Whether the two candidate’s personal record during Vietnam should be a big deal is a good question.

    I don’t think it should be a big deal. Neither I thing do must Americans. If if wasn’t for the two-term limit, I suspect Clinton would now be running for his fourth go at president – and probably have a healthy lead at what candidate the Republicans had in store.

    Rather, I think that the political class of the U.S. (especially on the right) think it is a big issue. Over here, I can think of two ex-Vietnam Vets politicians off the top of my head (Tim Fischer and Jeff Kennett). I can’t remember them harping on much about their service records.

    Personally, I’m glad Australia is the sort of country where they celebrate military heroes who save lives: Weary Dunlop, Simpson and his Donkey.

    mark
    2022 years ago

    Sam, where has Kerry been shown to be lying, exactly?

    John
    John
    2022 years ago

    Ken, there are memos on both sides of this. There are genuine (AFAIK) memos discrediting the Swift boat guys.

    But my point, echoed by Scott is, so what? Would it really matter if one side or the other was vindicated on every point at issue in this dispute? There is, to coin a phrase, a war on, after all.

    Michael
    Michael
    2022 years ago

    Yes, In a way you’re quite right right Mark about the Cambodia thing. Its quite right that his never having been in Cambodia, while supported by most of the evidence, hasn’t been proved. I was referring to Kerry’s claims to a “seared..seared” in memory of “Christmas in Cambodia” which has been proven (by Kerry’s own admission that he didn’t spend Christmas in Cambodia) to be a lie. But I didn’t say that in my previous post and for that I apologise.

    But as for his smears against the vietnam vets not really being smears because he was only talking about people who had “told him that they had committed atrocities.” Are you serious? he didn’t just accuse those few people that he spoke to of atrocities, I mean how many vets do you think actually sat there and confessed to him that that they mutilated, raped, tortured and murdered people? two? ten? maybe twenty? Are you really saying that Kerry was only talking about a tiny minority of soldiers? At the best he’s about thousands os solders, at worst he’s talking about the American military in general.

    With all due respect, to try and say that one of the most vile smear jobs against Vietnam vets wasn’t really a smear at all because he was only repeating what someone told him sounds like it came directly from one of the extreme moonbat blogs like DailyKos who lately seem to specialize in defending the indefensible via the “la,la,la I can’t hear you” method.

    Don’t get me wrong, I accept that the Swift vets probably threw in a few smears along with what was accurate, but Kerry is anything but the innocent little choir boy when it comes to smearing veterans.

    Ken Parish
    Ken Parish
    2022 years ago

    John

    Although the Iraqwar, major domestic economic issues and so on should certainly be larger issues in the US Presidential campaign, the progressive corruption of the entire body politic by the use of scientific wedge and smear tactics (guided by focus group qualitative research to test how the wedge or smear plays with the punters and quantitative polling to monitor progress) is also a major one. The “scientific” use of smear is much more ubiquitous in American politics than here (at least so far), because it originated there.

    Although such practices are a serious threat to democracy IMO, I can’t conceive of any effective regulatory approach that could stem them without itself being democratically unacceptable. Thus, the only way I can think of to inhibit political parties from utilising such practices is if everyone who understands what’s going on makes a habit of condemning them unequivocally. Thus if you’re going to touch on a smear-related issue at all, I think a strong condemnation needs to be included. Only in that way might the reality of what they’re doing eventually sink through to less politically experienced/sophisticated readers, so that they learn to analyse and reject such tactics for the illegitimate garbage they are. It wouldn’t matter so much if it was a purely American phenomenon, because you’re an Australian blogger, but in fact these practices have been consciously copied here and their use continues to expand. Hence my closing comment about good men doing nothing.

    BTW Hopefully this comment also explains the linkage between this post and my next one about 27 lies, Latham on Liverpool Council etc. Those latter smears are just one aspect of the Australian adaptation of US-style wedge/smear tactics. I was commenting that they don’t seem to have had as great an effect yet as their current American equivalents, at least in the visible mass media, despite the parties’ best endeavours to poison their opponent’s well. Whether they’ll play better in direct mail, push-polling and other subterranean micro-tactics remains to be seen.

    The power and potential significance of these sorts of co-ordinated, scientific smear tactics doesn’t seem to be widely understood by very many pundits, probably because most of the action takes place well beyond public gaze. The fact that you’ve queried what I was getting at rather suggests that it hasn’t sunk home with you either. I can’t emphasise too strongly how important I think this stuff potentially is in its effect on the political process if allowed to continue unchecked and uncondemned.

    Yobbo
    Yobbo
    2022 years ago

    Mark: When challenged by the Swift Boat vets over “being in Cambodia for Christmas”, which was seared…SEARED! into his memory, his campaign buckled and put out a press release saying “Mr Kerry meant to say he was NEAR Cambodia”.

    John
    John
    2022 years ago

    Ken, for the record, I deplore both the memo forgery and the Swift Boat business. And I’ve previously had my say on scandal-based politics. But when I wrote my post, we had already had about two months on these topics, which is 59 days too much IMO.

    EvilPundit
    2022 years ago

    The forged memos are more than just a smear campaign. They’re a pointer to serious corruption in the democratic process.

    The fact that a major media organisation has used fraudulent means in an attempt to influence an election is an extremely important, and entirely current, story.

    This is an instance of media bias so profound that a leading journalist and his network have been, and continue to be, involved in deliberate deception and possibly criminal acts in the pursuit of their political agenda.

    akman
    akman
    2022 years ago

    E.P., no one’s seriously suggested that Dan “my President right or wrong” Rather set out to malign Bush with documents he knew to be fake. Loosen your tie, or something.

    Tim Lambert
    2022 years ago

    So Kerry made a mistake about exactly when he was in Cambodia. How is this a lie? Meanwhile the RDWBs insist that Howard didn’t lie in the Children Overboard affair. Talk about your double standards.

    martin
    2022 years ago

    Over here, I can think of two ex-Vietnam Vets politicians off the top of my head (Tim Fischer and Jeff Kennett). I can’t remember them harping on much about their service records.

    This is as it should be; The relevance of combat experience to ones ability to lead a nation (even in times of war) seems moot, at best.

    Truman saw active service in the 1st world war, but FDR was a career politician / beureaucrat (as was Churchill). In Australia, Robert Menzies didn’t serve in the 1st world war.

    There’s lots of reasons why these choices were made; In Menzie’s case, the family decided that 1 of 3 brothers had to stay at home to look after mum and dad, and he was it – http://www.menziesvirtualmuseum.org.au/1910s/1917.html
    Ascribing another’s choices to cowardice (which is what the democrats are doing, directly or implicitly) smacks of lack of alternatves at best and desperation at worse.

    Ken Parish
    Ken Parish
    2022 years ago

    Martin

    I find the Democrats’ efforts to smear Bush’s war service (or lack of same) and the Republicans’ attempts to denigrate Kerry’s actual service to be equally repugnant. I suppose the Bushies can argue that they’re just retaliating after the Democrats started it, but it’s a pretty poor justification. And the willingness of their respective supporters/fellow travellers to embrace the smear on their ideological opponent while deploring the one directed at their hero is almost as disgusting. The latter phenomenon is very evident on this discussion thread (although John Quiggin is an honourable exception).

    bs
    bs
    2022 years ago

    So Kerry made a mistake about exactly when he was in Cambodia. How is this a lie?

    Hey Tim, I’ve got a really good piece of real estate for you. It’s located at 12345 Ptolemaeus Ctr Lunarville. Its got out of this world views and is priced at a steal. Perfect for a gulli…err I mean…razor sharp guy like you.

    He said it was a seared in memory. A seared in memory of spending Christmas in Cambodia that was repeated over and over. Its a bit of catch 22 for Kerry, if it really was a mistake then his delusional memory will a major concern, if its not a mistake then its a straight out lie. No wonder he hasn’t been willing to talk to anyone thats likely to ask him any tough questions.

    Yobbo
    Yobbo
    2022 years ago

    Ken: Once again, Kerry has made his record as a vietnam vet an integral part of his presidential campaign. If the republicans can’t address that in their campaign, what else do they have? He doesn’t have any other policies or thoughts on the presidency at all.

    Kerry’s campaign is entirely “I’m not George W. Bush, and by the way, DID YOU KNOW I SERVED IN VIETNAM?”

    mark
    2022 years ago

    Sam: thanks.

    Michael: again, he’s done nothing of the sort. Kerry stood up and said “some vets have told me they committed atrocities. There are documented, proven cases of it happening elsewhere. This is why War is Bad.” Now, that statement was 100% true, but a tad offensive because it doesn’t conflate wartime with fluffy bunnies and suchlike.

    As part of their apparently perfectly justifiable revenge, they’ve launched a couple of ad campaigns, one of which lies about how he got his medals, the other lies about what he said about Vietnam later. It’s just partisan bullshit; two sides, both of which happen to be composed of Vietnam vets, sniping at each other. What’s the difference? Let’s see, now. The Swift Boat Vets have not said anything that even comes close to being true. And they’ve seriously smeared a fellow vet, baselessly accusing him of not deserving his medals. This is acceptable behaviour, is it?

    I’ll just repeat that, so as to be sure y’all understand it fully. The Swift Vets didn’t include a “few smears” amongst the stuff that was “accurate”. Because nothing that they said was accurate. We can look at the ads as showing two “types” of smear: there’s those that said unverifiable stuff like “you couldn’t count on Kerry when the chips were down” (how the hell would they know? They never served with Kerry?), and then there were those that said “Kerry lied about his medals”. Neither is even close to accurate. Nor is “I served with Kerry”… yeah, just like how, as a Canberran, I’ve worked with John Howard.

    What has Kerry done that’s as despicable? Okay… he repeated what some other vets told him about atrocities. Oh, oh! And the big one! Twice, while talking about his time in Cambodia, he got the date wrong. By one week. Okay, so it was “seared” into his memory. This means either: a) he got it wrong anyway (and I’ve seen plenty of examples of people like this), or b) he exaggerated for effect… twice. Not good, but hardly comparable to the Swift Vets’ disgusting behaviour. What excuses them? Oh, they’re not Democrats. Brilliant.

    EvilPundit
    2022 years ago

    Mark, you’ve been swallowing left-wing propaganda.

    Kerry is condemned by his own words, which are on record:

    I would like to talk on behalf of all those veterans and say that several months ago in Detroit we had an investigation at which over 150 honorably discharged, and many very highly decorated, veterans testified to war crimes committed in Southeast Asia. These were not isolated incidents but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command. It is impossible to describe to you exactly what did happen in Detroit – the emotions in the room and the feelings of the men who were reliving their experiences in Vietnam. They relived the absolute horror of what this country, in a sense, made them do.

    Tim Lambert
    2022 years ago

    Dear bs, I don’t know whether or not Kerry lied about being in Cambodia. And yes, I’m sceptical about your claims, but this is the opposite of being gullible. And “gullible” is not a real word in any case. Look it up in the dictionary if you don’t believe me.

    It is possible for people to be mistaken in their memories of events that happened decades ago. Even ones they remember vividly. Kerry could quite easily have mixed his memories of being in Cambodia with something that happened on Christmas day in Vietnam. I don’t know for sure and neither do you.

    Michael
    Michael
    2022 years ago

    Michael: again, he’s done nothing of the sort. Kerry stood up and said “some vets have told me they committed atrocities. There are documented, proven cases of it happening elsewhere. This is why War is Bad.”

    Mark, you’ve made some good points in your posts, yet with this particular piece of nonsense you make yourself look as unswervingly and stupidly partisan as Michael Moore. As well as EvilPundit’s’s quote which disproves your point completely here’s another one:

    and I would have to say that, yes, yes, I committed the same kind of atrocities as thousands of other soldiers have committed

    He smeared Vietnam vets that he knew nothing of and had no evidence about. He’s admitted himself that his smears of genocide and of the leadership being war criminals was wrong
    This stuff is all over the net, how can you not have seen them? And then there’s this:

    “Because nothing that they said was accurate.”

    Wrong. As you belatedly admitted, Kerry’s seared memory of Christmas in Cambodia never happened. That’s a proven accuracy for the Swiftvets.
    And most of the rest haven’t been proven inaccurate.

    I don’t really disagree with the whole Democrats/swiftvets smear campaign is bad argument, but I do disagree with the ridiculous idea that Kerry should be exempt from any questions about his Vietnam service simply because he served. He put huge question marks over the heads of all Vets with his smears and now those question marks are sitting over his head. Its bad that many of the question marks are there because of smears, but with his history of smearing others he’s hardly in a position to complain.

    As bad and distastful as these smear campaigns are I think people are going to have to accept them as a part of life.
    Its funny to watch the way peoples idea’s of smearing change with how effective the smearing is and who its effective against. Blogs have it so much easier to watch these flip-flopping views, to watch bloggers try and portray themselves as unbiased but fall into obvious smear tactics themselves before the end of their own post, making their true feeling clear to all, and of course the people participating in the comments threads, with hardly any pretence of being unbiased. God I love the blogosphere.

    Ken Parish
    Ken Parish
    2022 years ago

    Michael

    You make some good points. In particular, it’s fairly clear (as Yobbo also said) that Kerry started the whole Vietnam smear theme, to contrast his war heroism against Bush’s supposed draft dodging. And it was a key part of his campaign from the beginning. So in that sense he asked for it. It’s difficult to see how the Republicans could have dealt with that strategy other than by counter-attacking. The trouble is that once you do, you end up in the escalating series of “take no prisoners” smears we’re now seeing.

    And I’m even reluctant to see the Republicans as the initially innocent party, because they’re the ones that first embraced and perfected the whole scientific negative/attack campaigning approach way back in 1988 or thereabouts. The trouble with all this stuff is that it’s chicken and egg, the strikes and counter-strikes go back as far as you can be bothered tracing them. It’s like the Hatfields and the McCoys. But eventually all of us are going to have to holler “enough is enough!!”

    mark
    2022 years ago

    Cambodia’s not actually a proven accuracy for the SwiftVets. It’s a proven accuracy for the people saying “Kerry was never in Cambodia!”, like, say, Glenn Reynolds. But neither ad mentioned Cambodia. That said, it is important to separate the disgusting smears in the SwiftVets ads from the (comparatively sensible) stuff Kerry’s other critics have been saying, something I haven’t always done.

    Kerry’s statements about what went on in Vietnam were true. And he hasn’t withdrawn them, he’s just said he was a little over the top and that he shouldn’t have used the exact words he used. If Ken doesn’t mind a largeish quote:
    Kerry (May 6, 2001; Meet the Press): I don’t stand by the genocide I think those were the words of an angry young man. We did not try to do that. But I do stand by the description–I don’t even believe there is a purpose served in the word “war criminal.” I really don’t. But I stand by the rest of what happened over there, Tim.

    . . . (We) misjudged history. We misjudged our own country. We misjudged our strategy. And we fell into a dark place. All of us. And I think we learned that over time. And I hope the contribution that some of us made as veterans was to come back and help people understand that.

    I think our soldiers served as nobly, on the whole, as in any war, and people need to understand that.
    And FWIW, I’m definitely biased. In Australia, I can see the value of both major parties (and a few of the minors, too), and am potentially a swinging voter (though, like Ken, I’m definitely browned off at Howard). But in America’s politics, the Democratic Party are probably the closest equivalent to our Liberals, and the Republicans are to their right… and that’s not a place I want to go any time soon.

    A belated effort to answer the question of why character assassination is so effective in the USA, and ineffective in Australia: compulsory voting is a big one. If the two major political leaders in Australia start trying to rip each other to shreds, voters can shrug their shoulders, say “they’re as bad as each other”, and still have to find some other reason to vote a particular way. In America, voters who decide on the “a plague a’both their houses” view have the option of not turning up at all. Therefore, the aim of smear campaigns is not to get people to vote for George Bush (or whoever), but to prevent people who would vote for your opponent from voting at all.

    Yobbo
    Yobbo
    2022 years ago

    Mark: The American Democrats may be equivalent to our Liberals, but John Kerry is about equivalent to our Carmen Lawrence or Bob Brown, and nobody wants to see him become president.

    The democrats brought this upon themselves by nominating such a ridiculously unsuitable candidate. If they had nominated Lieberman, I would be supporting them, but there’s no way I’d support Kerry.

    It’s a sad indictment on the Democrats that they had so few reasonable candidates even standing in their nomination race. Howard Dean, Wesley Clark, John Kerry and Al Sharpton should never have even got a look in.

    David Tiley
    2022 years ago

    I am stunned by this run of comments, and also soooooo tempted to join in. What choice did Kerry have but to campaign on his positive record in Vietnam when he knew he would be attacked for opposing the war, in a context where “fit to lead a war” would have been a crucial hinge if he hadn’t pre-empted it? And why wouldn’t he, when Bush was AWOL at the time from his champagne squadron?

    You reach out to your keyboard trembling. You don’t agree with me. STOP NOW. YOU ARE INFECTED TOO.

    The blogosphere is perfect for this kind of snitty nitpicking. It is addictive. Ken sets out to condemn character assassination and in a trice we are refighting political “yes he did -no he didn’t yadda yadda biff” fights in someone else’s election.

    Peace, my brothers and sistahs. Let’s concentrate on the issue. I am frightened by smears, by reduction to sound bites, by “on-message” campaigns, by slogans and thirty second ads and baseless, weasel accusations. “The Guilty Party” said Kennett.

    They are debasing democracy. It can go further. What happens when we impeccably photoshop pictures of events that never happened? Conflate conversations that didn’t exist? Produce perfect forgeries that only ever exist in the digital domain?

    I suspect we are looking at ways of policing elections quickly and efficiently.

    I really like the point about compulsory voting.

    Yobbo
    Yobbo
    2022 years ago

    David: My point was that Ken’s attack on “character assassination” was uncalled for. If Kerry insists on basing his campaign on his and Bush’s character, then the Republicans have no choice but to fight it.

    If he had any policy to speak of, they could attack that instead, but he doesn’t.

    Tim Lambert
    2022 years ago

    And if banks insist on having lots of money on hand, criminals have no choice but to rob them.

    Oh, and weirdly enough, Kerry seems to have a whole bunch of policies. He even has a website where you can find out about them. Who’d have thought it?

    mark
    2022 years ago

    That’d be fair enough, Sam, if Kerry was misrepresenting character (making himself look better than he is, Bush worse than he is); for the Republicans to “set the record straight” would only be expected, and if they went slightly too far in the opposite direction, well, it’s no worse than the Democrats, eh?

    Thing is, it’s not like that at all. It’s more like Kerry standing up and saying “I’m a good guy”, and the Republicans sending in stooges to say “no, he’s not, just listen to [insert lie here]”. He’s been caught out with one verifiable lie about Vietnam, and that’s Cambodia. And even then, the SwiftVets didn’t make an issue of that.

    Then we get the bullshit Cheney’s spouting: “Kerry has constantly voted against increasing the defence budget or making you safer or whatever” — umm, no he hasn’t. “Kerry has voted for twenty-six billion (or whatever) tax increases since whenever” — um, no he hasn’t (if you include failing to vote for tax cuts and failing to vote against hikes as the same as voting for increases, then count each increase several times, then multiply the result by some arbitrary number, you might come close to what Cheney’s saying…). And so on. Is that justified by Kerry’s war record too?