Take A Good Look

Via Kos, who has a pretty good roundup of the Not-So-Swift Boaters’ latest crapola, I spent last night reading this.

Prolonged exposure to McCarthy’s odious character and ill-mannered interruptions was a textbook demonstration of how a hot personality wilted under the glare of a cool medium. Toward the close of the hearings, Senator Stuart Symington (Democrat, Missouri) underscored the lesson in media politics during a sharp exchange with McCarthy: “The American people have had a look at you for six weeks. You are not fooling anyone.”

And I have to say to the last six undecided voters out there, there’s a story in the Chicago Tribune you should read this morning. Not just because it contradicts the not-so-swift crowd, but because it makes a point I think was missing in all of the back and forth this week:

I know that what some people are saying now is wrong. While they mean to hurt Kerry, what they’re saying impugns others who are not in the public eye.

Men like Larry Lee, who was on our bow with an M-60 machine gun as we charged the riverbank, Kenneth Martin, who was in the .50-caliber gun tub atop our boat, and Benjamin Cueva, our engineman, who was at our aft gun mount suppressing the fire from the opposite bank.

Wayne Langhoffer and the other crewmen on Droz’s boat went through even worse on April 12, 1969, when they saw Droz killed in a brutal ambush that left PCF-43 an abandoned pile of wreckage on the banks of the Duong Keo River. That was just a few months after the birth of his only child, Tracy.

The survivors of all these events are scattered across the country now.

Jerry Leeds lives in a tiny Kansas town where he built and sold a successful printing business. He owns a beautiful home with a lawn that sweeps to the edge of a small lake, which he also owns. Every year, flights of purple martins return to the stately birdhouses on the tall poles in his back yard.

Cueva, recently retired, has raised three daughters and is beloved by his neighbors for all the years he spent keeping their cars running. Lee is a senior computer programmer in Kentucky, and Lamberson finished a second military career in the Army.

With the debate over that long-ago day in February, they’re all living that war another time.

And that’s what, out of all of this, all the lies and the media attention this shouldn’t have gotten (and memo to the press: if something’s spurious, don’t fucking publish it, which has the added bonus of letting you skip the mea culpa two years later) enrages me the most.

This was a real war, just as Iraq is a real war and not a right-wing blogger video game. People fought in Vietnam and were broken by it. My parents lost friends, neighbors’ kids. I was very nearly born in Canada; had my father’s draft number been different I would have been. This affected people’s lives, and that’s what fucks like Jerome Corsi and his enablers Candy Crowley and Wolf Blitzer can’t understand. Everyone who came back haunted is now seeing their nightmares, again and again, up on the television screen.

I’m actually kind of glad the Kerry campaign let this shit hang out there as long as they did. We’ve gotten a good look at those attacking Kerry now. A really good look.