Six years ago, during the Bush/Kerry elections, a group of veterans who served in the military with then candidate John Kerry came out and said that Candidate Kerry was not all that he claimed to be. "Swiftboating" became political parlance for attack ads and the Democrats roundly rejected the tactic...then. Now, is another story.
The UK Guardian recently published an article decrying the Democrats and their supporters for "Swiftboating" Mitt Romney and have called them on their hypocricy. They authors disappointment and disgust with the Obama campaign is palpable.
We now know more about Barack Obama than we did previously.
Oh, not that he was born in Kenya, or Krypton, or wherever the moronic birthers still prattle on about. And not that he has ruined the economy; it's more accurate to say that he and the central bankers saved the world. Furthermore, he isn't a socialist or a tyrant bent on destroying America, as various demagogues – including a number of washed-out Republican presidential hopefuls – like to tell the teeming mouth-breathers. And, no, he's not a Muslim.
Not that there's anything wrong with that.
But President Obama is, come to discover – and forgive the tautology – a cynical politician. Not for selling out environmental interests for the sake of salvaging jobs, although, well … And not for soft-pedaling regulation and legal scrutiny of the Wall Street pigs who nearly destroyed us, to the ongoing rage of the grungy 99%. And not even for remaining virtually mute about the horrifying spate of gun violence, lest he antagonize undecided gun nuts.
He manages to hit on just about every left leaning issue that Obama has backtracked on but closing Gitmo.
Let's just ascribe that behavior to presidential pragmatism. In the ebb and flow of politics, you can't always get what you want. Obama does, after all, face a Tea Party hostage situation in Congress, where the GOP leadership will pass neither a camera emplacement nor a law.
Never mind that pesky little FACT that he could have done all of that the first two years he was in office when the Democrats CONTROLLED ALL THREE BRANCHES OF GOVERNMENT AND CURRENTLY CONTROLS 2 OUT OF 3.....
Then they get to their real beef with the President......
Nonetheless, be not too quick to see the president of the United States as a mere hapless victim of vicious partisan politics. He is also a perpetrator.
For the past 10 days, the president's Super Pac – Priorities USA Action – has been running a Swiftboat attack on Republican Mitt Romney so grotesque, so dishonest, so debased, as to force you to wonder who this Obama guy is, and whether he has been that guy all along. The ad features a former steel worker named Joe Soptic, recounting the death of his wife from cancer, after Soptic lost his health insurance when Romney's Bain Capital shut down the steel mill in 2001.
"I don't think Mitt Romney understands what he's done to peoples' lives," Soptic says.
What Soptic doesn't say, and what the ad leaves out, is that: a) Romney had left Bain Capital for the Salt Lake City Olympics when the plant was shut down; b) Soptic lost his health insurance, but his wife remained covered at her own job; c) she was not diagnosed with cancer till five years later; d) during which interim she held subsequent jobs and other insurance coverage.
Yet, the message is unmistakable: Mitt Romney has blood on his hands.
Indeed - anyone who saw the ad, came to that conclusion - regardless of all of the back-pedaling that has been going on within Team Obama and Priorities USA.
This is repulsive. The Obama campaign at first claimed to know nothing about Joe Soptic; indeed, Super Pacs – awash in donations from labor unions, corporations, and the wealthy – are statutorily prohibited from coordinating with candidates. But nobody believes that firewall exists. And the campaign was caught in its transparent lie, when someone remembered a Obama 2012 conference call in which Soptic and his sad tale were trotted out by the campaign for the assembled press.
Back in 2004, when a political action committee favoring George W Bush unleashed scurrilous ads accusing Democratic candidate John Kerry of cowardice and treason for the very Vietnam episodes that had gotten him decorated for bravery, Democrats howled with outrage at the smear by Swifboat Veterans for Truth. They howled when George HW Bush trotted out the infamous, race-baiting "Willie Horton" ad against Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis. They howled when John McCain tried to link Senator Barack Obama with domestic terrorist William Ayres.
And well that they should have. Such tactics are beyond obscene. They are depraved.
And so is obliterating inconvenient facts to accuse the presumptive Republican nominee of homicidal neglect...
...In the past 10 days, the Obama 2012 campaign itself has had every opportunity to condemn the tactics, to reject the slanderous implication, to entirely disavow the sorry episode and demand that the ad be pulled. Instead, from top to bottom, the campaign has offered mealy-mouthed denials. Likewise, the Democratic National Committee and a legion of partisan capos with long spears and short memories. Suddenly, swiftboating suits them just fine.
Meanwhile, the patron saint of hope and change has said not a word. It would have been so easy:
"I am Barack Obama and I emphatically disapprove this message."
But, nope, mum's the word. And the silence speaks volumes.
While the author of this piece is sorely disappointed with Team Obama for their tactics, anyone who has followed Chicago politics knows that this kind of campaign is de rigueur. This IS Chicago politics on a national level.
He then offers a bit of pragmatic advice for both sides....
Look, choose the candidates you prefer. There are manifest differences between them. But do yourself a favor. Dispense with the hero worship. Believing a politician transcends politics is to guarantee disappointment. Depravity turns out to be an equal opportunity employer.
And that is something I think we all need to remember.