"When somebody's attacking your military record, you reach a boiling point"
If you are at an impasse for holiday gift ideas, let me make a suggestion - I have been loving "To Set The Record Straight" (website), a book by Scott Swett and Tim Ziegler with a foreword by John O'Neill recounting the Swift Boat battles of 2004. I daresay I followed the Swifties quite closely (and this blog gets a mention!) but I have found all sorts of interesting new details about Kerry's activities in Vietnam and after. There is also plenty of background about the formation of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and an excellent recounting of the failure of the main stream media to quash their story.
This book ought to be a must read for journalism professors and students, and should delight anyone likely to enjoy a story of media bias or even a good Kerry-basher. Blog coverage of the Swifties was an important part of the 2004 story and bloggers are cited extensively - Captain Ed, Hugh Hewitt and Beldar spring to mind but many others are referenced or quoted as well. And of course Dan Rather gets a special chapter.
However, what I think is my own unique contribution to the pile-on does not seem to have been noted; the topic is Kerry's first Purple Heart, awarded based on a "skimmer op" in December 1968. Kerry crewman Zaladonis was interviewed by Douglas Brinkley (repeatedly) and the Globe's Michael Kranish in 2003 for their research efforts, but never mentioned his role in Kerry's skimmer op. Then, when Kerry took criticism for that medal in the spring of 2004, Zaladonis was suddenly a part of the mission and vouching for Kerry, and telling people it was the scariest night of his life. So scary he forgot to regale reporters when they asked for any Kerry stories in 2003? C'mon - it was his first joint task with Kerry, the first time they met, the first combat for both of them, and the scariest night of his life but he forgot to mention it in 2003? A troubling lapse of interview technique, repeatedly, and by two researchers.
Oh, enough about me and back to the book. Here are some links - an interview with Scott Swett; NewsMax review; Bruce Kesler's thoughts. And the mystery quote from the top is not from John O'Neill, a fellow Swiftie, or anyone else from the army of Ghengis Khan. It is a comedy classic from Kerry flack Stephanie Cutter.
MORE: I picked up a relevant tidbit about the recent T Boone Pickens challenge to John Kerry. Pickens challenged anyone to prove that the Swifties had lied about anything; he eventually limited his challenge to claims made in the Swift ads.
From the book I have learned that, in order to provide legal cover to stations running the ads, the SBVT had prepared extensive documentation backing the ads; for example, the final support package for the first ad was 65 pages of documentation and affidavits. And back in 2004 the DNC lawyers wrote to the stations airing the ads claiming that they were lies but eventually backed down. So Pickens probably feels like he is on comfortable ground.
ERRATA: I knew about Kerry and Kansas City, where Scot Camil proposed a plot to assassinate US Senators - Kerry had denied all of this, then claimed he forgot. But now I know (p. 60-1 of book) that Scot Camil claimed in an interview to have discussed a similar assassination plan well before Kansas City (probably in February of that year, before the VAW's April Dewey Canyon III protest), and, per Camil, "people like Kerry totally flipped out". Looks like Kerry forgot more than we knew.