Swiftboating Redux

The ironic undertone of the massive party-wide GOP effort to drive off Donald Trump like a whipped cur for his temerity in questioning the valor of one Vietnam War hero is, of course, the memories it evokes of a certain party-wide GOP effort to question the valor of another, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee. These comparisons are all the more difficult to avoid since John McCain was about the only major Republican figure to denounce the swiftboating of John Kerry in 2004.

Now some GOPers might try to distinguish the two cases–you know, arguing the swiftboaters (the ones on camera, at least) were co-combatants with Kerry who questioned the factual premise of Kerry’s heroism, while Trump is a “draft dodger” who isn’t denying the facts but the heroism. All this hair-splitting would probably just make them look worse, though.

The one thing we won’t hear is any Republican apology to Kerry. After all, he just played a central role in the greatest diplomatic betrayal since Munich–no, since Eve-and-Satan!-unleashing the most terrifying military superpower in the history of the world, Iran! Yes, in their account, John Kerry has been stabbing his country in the back for more than four decades, and just can’t stop. You know, like Republican smear-masters.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.