Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Liberal Bloggers Not Interested in Kerry?

The Hotline's Blogometer provides an overview of the blogospheric reaction to John Kerry's decision to reopen the battle against the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth:

5/30: Deja Vu All Over Again
The Blogometer did not exist for Round One of Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) vs. Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, but the blogger spill over on the issue is definitely part of the reason it was created. Righty bloggers are again driving the issue while lefty bloggers, normally not ones to shy away from a debate, seem contempt [sic] to label all Kerry detractors as liars and leave actual refutation of righty blogger attacks up to the MSM ... which lefty bloggers then criticize for not debunking righty blogger attacks quickly enough. For both sides, however, it's clear that any Kerry candidacy must address this past before looking to the future.

KERRY: Well At Least They Can Agree On One Thing ...
The re-emergence of Kerry's Vietnam record finally generated some consensus in the blogosphere ... if he's going to run in '08 he is going to have to put this issue to bed. Righty Captain's Quarters: "It would be inaccurate, to put it mildly, to say that the Swift boat veterans cost Kerry the presidency. What defeated Kerry was his insistence on focusing his campaign on his valor in Viet Nam and the repetition of stories like Christmas in Cambodia that failed the smell test. ... The only possible reason for raising this issue would be to clear the decks for another presidential run in 2008, but like 2004, it shows that Kerry's only strategy for elections is to live in a refashioned past." Lefty The Democratic Daily: "If John Kerry is going to have a chance to win in 2008 it will be necessary for him eliminate the controversy created by the Swift Boat Liars. Even though the facts were clear that O'Neil and other were both lying and working with GOP operatives, the media concentrated on the horse race aspect with questions as to how the charges affected the campaign, and gave far too little attention to the overwhelming amount of evidence supporting Kerry."

Moving to the actual story, consensus falls apart. Vietnam Vet Bruce Kesler at Democracy Project calls the New York Times a "willing mouthpiece for Kerry" and refutes the Times reporting on Kerry's 1971 "The Dick Cavett Show" appearance. Brainster's Blog looks at the "Christmas in Cambodia" angle while The Unalienable Right parses the Times words to poke fun at their conclusion: "We have very little interest in rehashing Hanoi John Kerry's failed presidential bid, but one paragraph in this fawning NY Times story stuck out in particular: "The Swift boat group insisted that no boats had gone to Cambodia. But Mr. Kerry's researcher, using Vietnam-era military maps and spot reports from the naval archives showing coordinates for his boat, traced his path from Ha Tien toward Cambodia on a mission that records say was to insert Navy Seals." ...You see, some records indicating that his boat went toward Cambodia at some point prove he was in Cambodia at Christmas-time in 1968. One time, we drove from Los Angeles north towards Sacramento. This proves we were in Oregon in 1968." Confederate Yankee pitches in with a map to try and show Kerry's story is impossible.

Not all righty bloggers wanted to relive the debate, but that didn't mean they had sympathy for Kerry. Robert Hahn at RedState: "Apparently neither John Kerry nor the New York Times can get over the idea that they were beaten in their race for the White House. ...Perhaps it is balm for his wounded ego. But he'll have to pardon the rest of us if we don't care anymore. Real presidents do not get second chances to deal with unanticipated events." Blue Crab Boulevard: "I wasn't blogging when that little tempest broke, so I might as well throw in my two cents now since Kerry wants to reopen things. ...Four months or so in Swift Boats do not a "war hero" make."

Outside of labeling righty blogger liars, lefty bloggers left actual refutation of their claims up to the Times. The most common lefty reaction was to attack the media for not debunking the Swift Boat/righty blogger claims fast enough. Greg Sargent at TAPPED: "Look, here's the thing. To the extent that the Swift Boat Liars were effective -- and that's in dispute -- it wasn't just because of their spending on ads. It was because the media amplified those charges for days and days, if not weeks, without examining them critically. When the press did get around to debunking the charges whatever damage there was had already been done. The media tried to shift blame for this to Kerry by arguing that he'd failed to respond aggressively. But here's the point: The press shouldn't have had to wait for Kerry to start hitting back before it started to report critically on what the Swift Boat Liars were saying."

This has to be worrying to Kerry's nascent '08 Presidential campaign. Howard Dean, MoveOn, and DailyKos have demonstrated the importance of strong netroots to a Presidential campaign - especially to Democratic campaigns. There aren't many people that give John Kerry a serious shot in 2008. Seeing the lack of interest on the left in re-engaging in this fight, it seems to me that they're not really all that interested in John Kerry.

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