March 2, 2007

A Question for Anyone Who Questions "Swift Boaters"

Hatched by Dafydd

I'm getting awfully tired of the verb-phrase "to Swift Boat," meaning "an unfair and corrupt attack that should be banned from the airwaves." Here is the latest, tossed into a story about Sen. Hillary Clinton's (D-At Large, 100%) senior thesis at Wellesley College in 1969:

With Clinton’s opponents in the 2008 presidential race looking for the next “Swift Boat” attack ad, and the senator herself trying to cast off her liberal image, Clinton's 92-page thesis is certain to be read and reread by opposition researchers and reporters visiting the campus.

Clinton's thesis was subtitled "An Analysis of the Alinsky Model," referring to the leftist agitator Saul Alinsky, considered a mentor by many of the radical student protestors in the 60s -- though Alinsky himself was less impressed by them than they were by him. Clinton's "analysis" consisted of a consideration of whether his tactics of personal confrontation and what another speaker called "coercive protests" were more or less effective than other tactics.

Now, to be fair, this particular article does not come out and say that "Swift Boat" attack ads should be banned; but it certainly plays into that popularly held opinion on the Left. Bill Dedman uses the phrase as shorthand for right-wing attacks launched by Republicans against, to pick an example at random, Hillary Clinton.

And he's not alone; I've seen the same type of phrase used for the same purpose at least five times in the the last month... always by "progressive" writers who naturally assume the reader accepts their vision of those anti-Kerry ads as lying, manipulative, and corrupt. (This is a perfect example of trying to control debate by defining the terms.)

Those same invokers of "Swift Boat-ism" uniformly believe that the FCC or the FEC should "regulate" ad content to prevent such attacks in the future. But I have a question for them:

Suppose that in 2004, a group of fighter pilots at the Alabama Air National Guard had emerged, many of whom had personally known Lt. George W. Bush when he was there in the early 1970s. Suppose they stated that they had personal knowledge that he had been AWOL many times during that period. Suppose they made TV commercials saying exactly that.

Should those hypothetical ads have been banned from the airwaves during the 2004 election?

My answer would be No: They should be allowed to tell their story; President Bush should be allowed to rebut with his own ads, in news conferences, or during the debates; and the American people should decide which side they believe.

So far, I have never heard any prominent Democrat complain about (for a similar but much more egregious example) the September 8th, 2004 CBS 60 Minutes segment introducing the "Killian memos." (Note that none of the documents brought forth by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth was ever discovered to be a forgery.)

So I suspect I have the answer to my question: It's just another tired repetition of "free speech for me but not for thee." I'm shocked, shocked to discover politicking among political activists.

In the slither-on, I finish the story about Sen. Hillary Clinton's senior thesis at Wellesley: did she embrace or reject Saul Alinsky's radicalism? Click to find out...

As an aside, the central question of the MSNBC story is whether Clinton's thesis supported Alinsky -- who certainly verged awfully close to Marxism, saved only by his self-conscious desire to be an iconoclast -- or whether she rejected his radicalism.

Answer: she eagerly embraced his goal, but she questioned his tactics... not on moral grounds, however. In fact, during Clinton's graduation speech at Wellesley -- where she was not valedictorian, by the way -- she attacked the featured speaker, a black Republican, for rejecting "coercive protest," thus lauding it by implication.

Rather, Hillary Clinton's objection to Alinsky's aggressive and coercive tactics was that they weren't as effective as the government strongarm tactics that Clinton later chose for herself. For example, her health-care model envisioned "health-care alliances" that bore such an uncany similarity to Benito Mussolini's "business alliances," that one must almost conclude she wrote the proposal with a history of Italian Fascism open in front of her.

That is, Hillary Clinton rejected Alinsky's model of personal, confrontational protest in favor of seizing the levers of power and using government to cram socialism down the people's throat, good and hard, for their own good... the exact tactic Thomas Sowell identified in his seminal book the Vision of the Anointed.

Thus, those who thought Alinsky's thoughts were the key to Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton Rodham were, in fact, vindicated: in 1969, while she rejected his tactics as ineffective, she thoroughly internatlized his goal of world socialism and unionism... simply driven by law, not personal conscience. Her progressive soulmates who tried to downplay the Alinsky connection were foolishly wrong.

Dedman sees no particular irony in his conclusion; he seems to believe that this discovery enhances Clinton's appeal; and among her set, it probably will. He appears charmingly unaware that it's not just Clinton's "critics" who might find it less appealing that a presidential candidate, as a young woman, so ardently agreed with the goals of a radical leftist organizer.

They might wonder whether she still does today. And judging by her 2003 autobiography Living History, the answer is Yes, she does:

“I agreed with some of Alinsky's ideas,” she explained in “Living History,” her 2003 biography, “particularly the value of empowering people to help themselves. But we had a fundamental disagreement. He believed you could change the system only from the outside. I didn't.”

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 2, 2007, at the time of 3:18 PM

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The following hissed in response by: Bill Faith

Excellent question, Dafydd. I excerpted and linked here and here.

The above hissed in response by: Bill Faith [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 2, 2007 11:03 PM

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