The New York Times had a story a few days ago revisiting the Swift Boat Liars smear campaign that is partially credited with defeating Sen. John Kerry’s presidential campaign and extending the term of the Worst. President. Ever.
I’m glad to see that Kerry is finally devoting his attention to exposing all the lies stirred up by this GOP character assassination squad, but I’m also disappointed that he did not take it more seriously during the campaign when it might have made a difference.
I had a lot to say about the Swift Boat Liars during the campaign here, here and here.
It still burns me up every time I have to think about it. Without a doubt it was one of the most disgusting, dishonest, despicable displays of political chicanery in recent times. The lesson we should take from this story is that because it worked it will undoubtedly happen again and again. These GOP spin artists now know that they can get away with saying anything, however demonstratably untrue, and the national media will dutifully report it to achieve “balance” in their horserace-style coverage of election campaigns.
The only way to combat it is to be relentless in defending yourself against these types of scurillous accusations. No more of this high-minded, “I’m not going to respond because it would give the charges credibility” nonsense. The candidate or a surrogate speaking for the candidate has to take the smear artists on full-force and respond in kind to each and every attack. It is the only way to survive in today’s media-saturated culture.