There are several methods of evaluating the claims of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, 254 of whom have signed a letter saying John Kerry is not fit to be commander in chief.
There is the Bill O'Reilly method, which is to abandon independent thinking and simply come out in the middle, irrespective of where the two sides are. In response to Newt Gingrich's remark that the Swift Boat Veterans' independent ads were "the conservative movement's answer to Michael Moore," O'Reilly said, "I don't want either of them."
In Nazi Germany, O'Reilly would have condemned both Hitler's death camps and the Warsaw ghetto uprising. In Bill O'Reilly's world, King Solomon would have actually cut the disputed baby in half.
The O'Reilly method of analysis works well about once a century. The last time was when Hitler invaded Russia in 1941.
Then there is the Chris Matthews method, which is to decide in advance that the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth are the lowest form of human life imaginable and then publicly excoriate them for consuming oxygen.
Matthews employs a logical calculus known as "begging the question," which goes something like this:
When John O'Neill, author of "Unfit for Command," went on "Hardball," Matthews accused O'Neill of being a Republican operative and demanded that O'Neill detail for "Hardball's" six remaining viewers his voting history for the past 20 years in mind-numbing detail. (Completely destroying his case against Kerry, in 1988, O'Neill voted for George Herbert Walker Bush!) Apparently voting for a Republican presidential candidate 15 years ago is a credibility-destroyer, whereas being a former member of the White House staff under Jimmy Carter, as Chris Matthews is, enhances one's credibility.
Normally an interview on a newly released book consists of the author being asked questions about his book and the author answering the questions. With O'Neill, Matthews interviewed himself.
Also, erstwhile war protester John Hurley was interviewed along with O'Neill about "Unfit for Command." The fact that Hurley (1) didn't write the book, and (2) is a paid Kerry campaign worker raises no credibility issues. A colleague of Kerry's in Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Hurley's contribution to the interview about a book he didn't write consisted of his piping in periodically with insightful comments about O'Neill, such as "his book and his organization is built on lies and distortions."
O'Neill's contribution to a discussion about his own book consisted mostly of meaningless sentence fragments:
O'Neill: I don't believe that ... (MATTHEWS INTERRUPTION)
O'Neill: Well, I'm not here to ... (MATTHEWS INTERRUPTION)
O'Neill: I think he is millions of steps behind, because he went over ... (MATTHEWS INTERRUPTION)
O'Neill: His first Purple ... (MATTHEWS INTERRUPTION)
O'Neill: Well, the first ... (MATTHEWS INTERRUPTION)
O'Neill: You're right. I'm saying ... (MATTHEWS INTERRUPTION)
O'Neill: Well, wait just a second. What you've done is ... (MATTHEWS INTERRUPTION)
O'Neill: First of all ... (MATTHEWS INTERRUPTION)
Finally, O'Neill proposed that he be allowed to answer questions and Matthews erupted with an indignant speech notable mostly for being slightly longer than anything O'Neill ever got to say:
Matthews: "One of the oldest tricks on this show is for somebody to come on the show after talking for 20 minutes and say they haven't had the chance to talk. I'll be glad to clock you, John, on how many minutes you spoke on the show. So don't try that old trick. It is a particularly conservative trick, OK? So let's move on here."
Let's review the transcript!
Total words by book author John O'Neill: approximately 1,150. (Complete sentences devoid of Matthews interruptions: about 2.)
Total words by paid Kerry flack Hurley: approximately 950.
Total words by Matthews, excluding host prattle ("Welcome back to 'Hardball'!"): approximately 2,290.
At least Matthews didn't physically throw O'Neill off his set as he did Michelle Malkin a few nights later while she tried in vain to discuss her new book. The lion-hearted Matthews reserves that level of rudeness only for girls. (Now that I think about it, compared to the average Democrat male, maybe John Kerry is manly.)
In lieu of the O'Reilly method (randomly coming out in "the middle" of every issue) or the Matthews method (deciding, ab initio, that any criticism of Kerry could come only from bottom-feeding, politically motivated whores), there is still another method of evaluating the evidence, which is to evaluate the evidence.
For starters, 254 swiftboat veterans say Kerry is a fraud; 14 say he's a hero. Partisan considerations aside, which would be more difficult to do: Get 14 liars to keep a secret, or get 254 liars to do so? As a student of recent history, I defer to any registered Democrat on this question.
Of course, the 14 in Kerry's camp are not necessarily lying, being bribed, or hoping for a position in the Kerry administration ? possibilities the media will never raise, I note. But we're talking about 35-year-old memories here; 254 memories to 14 memories is what we used to call "evidence."
Why don't we just give both sides some swiftboats, a few machine guns and lots of ammo, put them on a river somewhere, and let them settle this whole thing like gentlemen once and for all?