Sunday, September 16, 2007
Back in the Spring of 2004, the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (SBVT) went public, declaring its mission to essentially destroy the presidential campaign of Sen. John Kerry (MA) through a series of venomous attack ads, web site smear campaigns and slanderous public statements with the singular focus of disparaging Kerry's patriotism and military record. Funded by such hardline rightwingers as Bob Perry, Sam Fox and former House Majority Leader Tom Delay, they charged--using a despicable bunch of lying sailors who allegedly served with Kerry on the swift boats he commanded in Vietnam--that he lied about his length of duty and the nature of his injuries which resulted in his receiving three Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star and a Silver Star. It was a disgusting display of the Republicans' ravenous appetite for power. That Kerry stood up to defend his country--enlisting for two tours of duty, leading dangerous patrols down the deadly Mekong Delta--and was a highly decorated war hero was of little matter to these front-stabbing, amoral chickenhawks. It was partisan politics at its absolute worst.
Of course, the charges were baseless and completely fabricated. In September 2004, upon completion of his review of the claims, Vice Admiral Ronald A. Route, the Navy inspector general, stated in a memo to Secretary of the Navy Gordon R. England:
"Our examination found that existing documentation regarding the Silver Star, Bronze Star and Purple Heart medals indicates the awards approval process was properly followed. In particular, the senior officers who awarded the medals were properly delegated authority to do so. In addition, we found that they correctly followed the procedures in place at the time for approving these awards."
Yet while all the bashing was taking place, neither President Bush, VP Cheney, the Republican leadership in the House and Senate, or prominent figures in the conservative media condemned the attacks. Only Arizona Sen. John McCain, himself a decorated war hero and renowned Vietnam prisoner of war, publicly criticized the smear campaign.
To be sure, the powers that be in the GOP were downright giddy over the effect the attacks were having on Kerry's campaign. It put him constantly on the defensive, and served as a major dstraction away from the pertinent issues of the campaign. And their comrades in the lock-stepping right-wing media ran with it. Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and others did their Fourth Estate best to villify this undesputable war hero.
Now cut to September 10, 2007, the day that the liberal political group Moveon.org took a full-page ad in the New York Times asking in a headline, "General Petraeus or General Betray Us?" and accusing the top US military commander in Iraq of "cooking the books for the White House." This was in advance of the Congressional testimony on the war that Petraeus was to provide that day. The ad, as expected, created a veritable shitstorm in Republican circles. A sampling of this righteous outrage:
'08 presidential hopeful Mitt Romney called the ad "outrageous" and said of the General: "Like the men he commands, he is risking his life to protect our freedoms here at home. We should not prejudge him or his testimony, or give him anything less than the full respect he deserves."
Another '08 candidate Fred Thompson: "This is the group that funds the Democratic Party. I call upon the Democratic Party and all of the Democratic candidates for president to repudiate the libel of this patriotic American."
House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) who introduced a resolution on Monday condemning the ad: "The despicable attack MoveOn.org launched against General Petraeus today should be condemned by all Members of Congress, including the Democratic leadership...I urge Members on both sides of the aisle to join in support of this resolution so the House speaks with one voice rejecting the character assassination tactics employed by this extremist group."
Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader: "I resent the comments of those who have sat comfortably in their air-conditioned offices, thousands of miles away from the firefights and the roadside bombs, and tried their Washington best in recent days to impugn the general’s good name."
House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (MO): "Enough is enough. Moveon.org has gone too far with an ad that attacks one of our nation's finest generals."
Florida Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen: "I offer my colleagues the opportunity to use this hearing to distance themselves from the despicable ad that was published today calling into question the patriotism of General Petraeus."
Rep. John Carter, Texas Republican: a "shameful, disrespectful attack.
Chickenhawk conservative Fox News spinhead Sean Hannity: "I see a hero being slandered, an American war hero being slandered...I'm a fan of the military. I love, I respect the hard work and the fact that these guys put their lives on the line for us and our liberties and they're doing what their country asks them to do."
And the biggest chickenhawk faux-hero/patriot of them all, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, the GOP frontrunner for '08, placed his own ad in The New York Times on Friday rebutting the ad and attacking "the Democrats' orchestrated attacks on General Petraeus."
All of these comments could have been said in noble defense of Kerry back in '04 (and of Max Cleland and John Murtha, who've also had their military records gutted by these ravenous right wing chickenhawks) but they weren't. Where was the chorus of outrage then? Why was Kerry's record not off-limits to such reprehensible political chicanery, but Petraeus' military service is supposedly sacred? The double-standard established by these morally repugnant operatives will no longer be tolerated. MoveOn.org demonstrated that earlier this week. And I say, bravo baby. Keep 'em coming. How about an ad with the various publicly-available pics of Rudy Julie-Annie in drag, and headlined: "Is this the Commander-in-Chief You Want Leading the Fight Against Terrorists?"
Wah, wah, wah. These "outraged" Republicans are nothing but a bunch a whiny, petulant, spoiled little hypocritical partisan hacks who live by the mantra "do as we say, not as we do," getting their panties in a snit whenever they experience the Democrats' mantra: what goes around comes around.
On another note, we could use your help at The The Adrienne Shelly Foundation. We are a tax-exempt, non-profit organization dedicated in my wife's honor to help carry out her spirit and passion, with the goal of assisting women filmmakers. Adrienne was brutally killed in NYC on November 1, 2006. Through the Foundation, her commitment to filmmaking lives on. We've established scholarships, grants, finishing funds and living stipends at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts/Kanbar Institute of Film; Columbia University; American Film Institute; Women in Film; the Independent Feature Project; the Nantucket Film Festival; and the Sundance Institute.
On November 12 in NYC we will be holding our first annual Fundraising Gala, with a musical performance by Alanis Morissette followed by a celebrity reading of Adrienne's script "The Morgan Stories," featuring Paul Rudd, Edie Falco, Ally Sheedy and many others. To learn more about our mission, to make a tax-deductible donation, and to sign up to receive details about the November benefit please visit our website. Every contribution helps preserve Adrienne's legacy, allows us to help others, and creates something positive out of this tragedy.
Adrienne's film "Waitress" opened in theatres May 2nd to rave reviews from the NY Times, LA Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Time, People, Entertainment Weekly, Ebert & Roeper ("Two Thumbs Up"), Leonard Maltin and others, and has so far grossed $19-million domestically and almost $1-million internationally. The DVD will be available in November. It's a truly wonderful film that you're sure to love. A link to the trailer is below. Enjoy.