The story of the swift-boat veterans has been slow to develop in the mainstream media. The first accounts, as they moved from the Internet, cable television and talk radio, were to dismiss Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (www.swiftvets.com) as cranks and dirty tricksters mouthing outrageous lies for the Bush campaign.
It's a phenomenon that grows despite the one-dimensional portrayal of them. Virtually every story I've read in any newspaper, or heard on any television network, is premised on the view that swift-boat veterans are liars and pawns. Yet, they are men who served and who afterward have led quiet and responsible lives. And some who speak up -- like swift-boat veteran Doug Regelin, who says flatly that Kerry's account of entering Cambodia is fantasy -- are not members of the organized group and do not plan to vote for either Kerry or Bush.
The media appear to be picking sides and, in so doing, denying standing to a group with an eyewitness perspective about an issue Kerry introduced.
Swift-boat veterans undoubtedly are politically motivated -- but that is not the same as saying they are extensions of the Bush campaign or that their eyewitness accounts are without merit.
The anti-war movement in this country today is precisely where it was in its earliest stages of Vietnam. This nation is about a year away from serious antiwar activity, especially if Bush wins re-election and the pent-up bitterness that now drives the national Democratic Party has no productive outlet.
The Iraqi protests are coming, just as they did in turning the nation against the war in Vietnam. The course Kerry will choose, if he is president, will be determined by the majority of an anti-war party, by today's opinion leaders and by yesterday's experience. It is not a good sign for a nation that has no option but to win the war on terrorism.