Fox news was discussing Kerry and the swiftboaters again. Lot of happy talk, but the newsie failed to mention Kerry's major mistake. Kerry failed to reply to the Swiftboater's charges. Speaking as a typical voter, I never heard Kerry denounce the charges made against him. Silence gives assent. I was prepared to believe that all the noise was a bunch of soreheads, backed with Republican money, trying to derail Kerry's campaign. But when time went by and Kerry didn't come out on TV and deny all the charges (smears) against him, then I began to think maybe there was some truth in the swiftboaters position. When the election was over, it was clear the swiftboaters had done Kerry a lot of damage.
Plus, us veterans usually stick together. It was surprising to hear old shipmates (boatmates?) trashing a member of the outfit 35 years later. Seemed to me, and many others, that young Lt Kerry must have been a real pain-in-the-tail officer to attract so much venom after such a long time. I served as officer in Viet Nam, and 40 years later I have good warm feelings about all the guys in my old outfit. I cannot imagine any one who served with me, dissing me, either behind my back, or in public. Just won't happen. The fact that it happened to Kerry makes you wonder what sort of leadership qualities he really had.
Same thing happened to Mike Dukakis back in '88. The Bush campaign ran the "Willie Horton" ad against him. Showed an ugly and vicious looking convict walking round and round a revolving door while the voice over explained that this ugly bastard committed some awful crime while out of slam on furlough. Dukakis never replied. There were a lot of things he could have said, many of them convincing. But he didn't strike back, and us voters were left with the impression t he the Duke was soft on crime.
When they diss you, you gotta speak up. Silence gives assent.