Friday, March 26, 2004

They just won't quit...

...and we won't back down in the never-ending whack-a-mole business of combatting right wing smears against John Kerry.

This time it's Minneapolis attorney Larry Purdy, taking time out from his usual routine of defending pharmaceutical manufacturers, tobacco companies and making sure that racial preference is the exclusive preserve of white folk to crank out a little venom for David Horowitz' Frontpage.

It's a particularly nasty piece of work, with everything from a vague analogy between John Kerry and Benedict Arnold to specious claims that Kerry's post-Vietnam views were pro-communist and pro-Ho.

So what's the hook he hangs all this on? Kerry's 1971 Senate testimony - or at least the version of it that right wing hacks generally turn to. Although Purdy offers a footnote which claims that "All quotes are taken from the official transcript entitled “Legislative Proposals Relating to the War in Southeast Asia,” dated Thursday, April 22, 1971...", you may be unsurprised to learn that that claim is, in fact, a lie.

John Kerry never said, and the transcript doesn't claim he said, "...".

That's right. The return of the misleading ellipse, one of the more insidious ways the right has chosen to frame its lies. Perhaps what Mr. Purdy meant was that "All quotes are edited from the official transcript...". By selectively deleting Kerry's words in order to alter their meaning, Purdy sets up a straw man as the foundation for his arguement. An arguement built on a lie, though, only reveals the truth about the source, not the subject.

To make his attack appear credible, Purdy trades on his own credentials as a Vietnam veteran. A graduate of the Naval Academy, he was an officer at the same station in An Thoi that Kerry's swift boat operated out of, although Purdy's assignment was in a support role, rather than a combat command position like Kerry's. His willingness to use edited quotes and baldly false assertions to attack a fellow veteran make it very clear that Congress may be able to make an officer, but it's beyond their power to commission a gentleman.


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