Kerry’s character

By Joseph Farah

The television ads for the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth are getting a great deal of attention.

But they’re not getting attention because millions of people are seeing paid advertisements.

They’re getting attention because they are newsworthy – even by the skewed standards of the pro-John Kerry, establishment press.

There’s a huge lesson here for those crafting laws about campaign financing that restrict the rights of ordinary Americans to participate in the national debate.

Had the Swift Boat Vets not made their commercials, would the nation be debating John Kerry’s character? Would the nation be aware of the many controversies involving Kerry’s abbreviated tour of duty in Vietnam? Would the nation be conscientiously revisiting Kerry’s outrageously anti-American, anti-military remarks and conduct upon returning from Vietnam? Would the No. 1 best-selling book in America be “Unfit for Command” by John O’Neill and Jerome Corsi?

I don’t think the answer to any of those questions would be a conclusive and resounding “yes.” And that strongly suggests to me that the Swift Boat Vet ads have played a pivotal role in the national debate this presidential election.

Would we, in a free society, have it any other way? Would we prefer to squelch debate? Would we prefer to put strict limits on what is discussed in a presidential election campaign? Would we prefer to have the two major-party candidates and their campaigns set the rules of engagement?

Those TV commercials, even though they did not get the airtime of MoveOn.org’s anti-George Bush ads, helped achieve a kind critical mass that propelled long-standing questions about John Kerry’s character and conduct to the front-burner of the national consciousness.

How did Kerry respond to this political crisis – and what does it suggest about the way he might govern as president?

  • He tried to prevent the ads from appearing.
  • He tried to smear those attacking him as paid, political partisans and liars.
  • He joked about it on Comedy Central.
  • He sent Max Cleland to deliver a message to the president at his ranch.
  • He spun, backtracked and changed his story.
  • He ordered his campaign to dig up “dirt” on the vets critical of him.

In short, he did just about everything except answer the specific charges and important, serious questions raised.

Why? Does this tell us something about John Kerry? Does this give us any insight into how he would deal with crises as president? If he tried to “kill the messenger” as a candidate, what will he do as president?

The way Kerry has responded is most reminiscent of the behavior of another recent president. When critics like me revealed dark and ugly little secrets about former President Clinton, he used all the power – legitimate and illegitimate – of his office to destroy his “enemies.” The White House kept dossiers on us and distributed their lies and deceptions to friendly reporters only too willing to do their political bidding. Clinton even used the Internal Revenue Service’s audit power to target those who refused to buckle under other extraordinary pressures.

I suggest to you Kerry has the same personality, the same character, the same blind ambition, the same lack of respect for the law and morality.

Just imagine the squealing you would have heard from Kerry if former President Nixon had used the immense power of the White House to stop Kerry from raising his issues in 1971. Imagine the outcry. Imagine the whining and the groaning and the gnashing of teeth we would have heard.

And Nixon must have been sorely tempted given that Kerry was accusing him of conducting a policy of genocidal war crimes.

How ironic that Kerry came to the national attention 33 years ago by championing the complaints of 150 “Vietnam vets,” many of them phony, of course, while now he’s doing everything in his power to stifle the free expression of 254 real Vietnam vets.

Kerry’s reaction says almost as much about his character – or lack thereof – as do his own phony military record, his own treasonous statements in 1971, his own failed political record and his own unfamiliarity with the truth.