Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

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Yet more Navy records support Kerry, according to the Associated Press.

Meanwhile, John O'Neill -- Mr. uber-Swift, he wrote the book, etc. -- has been going on all the shows for weeks saying that John Kerry never could have been in Cambodia on a black mission. It was impossible because there were all sorts of precautions in place to prevent any border crossings and that he would have been "court-martialed" had he done so (see this column for excerpts from his book and his appearance on ABC's This Week program last Sunday.)

Now CNN has come up with tapes of O'Neill telling Richard Nixon in 1971 that he himself had been on missions inside Cambodia. From last night's Aaron Brown show ...

O'Neill said no one could cross the border by river and he claimed in an audio tape that his publicist played to CNN that he, himself, had never been to Cambodia either. But in 1971, O'Neill said precisely the opposite to then President Richard Nixon.

O'NEILL: I was in Cambodia, sir. I worked along the border on the water.

NIXON: In a swift boat?

O'NEILL: Yes, sir.


JOHNS: Now, O'Neill may have an explanation for this but he has not returned CNN's calls. What does seem clear is that a top member of the swift boat group is now being held to the same standard of literal accuracy they've tried to impose on John Kerry -- Aaron.

So there you go. It really seems like O'Neill has been going on all these shows lying right through his teeth. Not misremembering some date, not having a conflicting recollection of some battle action, but telling everyone that none of the Swift Boats crossed into Cambodia when, in fact, he himself appears to have done so routinely.

Of course, the underyling facts here aren't in dispute. As Fred Kaplan points out here and many others have as well, it is well known that the US military -- and Swift Boats in particular -- made covert ventures into Cambodia.

But, again, right from O'Neill's own mouth -- Mr. Swift Boat Veterans for the Truth.

And all of this raises the question, though it's not precisely the right analogy, what exactly is the statute of limitations on these guys? How many times do they have to get caught making false claims, unsubstantiated assertions or putting forward witnesses who weren't there, before they cease to have any credibility and get treated as such in the media?

At the moment the standard seems to be, "Okay, on your first nineteen claims, it seems like you were lying to us, but send along number twenty and we'll run that one up the flag pole too."

How long?

Just in case you don't think TPM is going to <$NoAd$>extra lengths to keep you informed, please note that we beat the news wires by at least twenty minutes (!) in bringing you the news that Ben Ginsberg had checked out of the Bush-Cheney campaign over the Swift Boat matter.

But if you look at the New York Times bit on Ginsberg's resignation you'll see that who else is working for these Swift dudes, Chris LaCivita, who works for push-poll and astroturf king Tom Synhorst.

From the Times ...

An occasional collaborator with Mr. Ginsberg, Chris LaCivita, is also working for the group, advising on media strategy. Mr. LaCivita was political director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee in 2002 and now works for the DCI Group, a Washington political strategy firm whose partners include Charles Francis, a longtime friend of President Bush from Texas and Tom Synhorst, an adviser to the Bush campaign in 2000, who was an architect of the campaign's effort in the Iowa caucuses.

Mr. LaCivita said yesterday that he worked as a private contractor for DCI and Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and that there was no coordination between the firm and the group.

"Obviously, I don't work for the Bush campaign," he said.

Mr. LaCivita described his role as providing advice on the news media and placing advertisements. Asked to describe how close his involvement was or how Mr. Ginsberg was involved, Mr. LaCivita referred calls to a spokesman for Swift Boat Veterans, which declined to comment.

Birds of a feather ...

Oh, this is good stuff.

The Kerry campaign is sending Max Cleland and Jim Rassman down to the president's 'ranch' to hand deliver a letter signed by seven veterans serving in the United States Senate asking Bush to "recognize this blatant attempt at character assassination, and publicly condemn it."

Nice political theater and it couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

Maybe it's time for Bush to bug out?

Or maybe put in for a transfer to Alabama ...

Keyes to the Kingdom <$NoAd$>...

Declaring "the front line of the war against terror once again involves the citizens," Republican Alan Keyes said Tuesday he believes the U.S. Constitution grants properly trained private individuals the right to own and carry machine guns.

"You're not talking about giving citizens access to atom bombs and other things," the former presidential candidate said. "That's ridiculous."

But the GOP nominee for U.S. Senate argued the founding fathers intended the Second Amendment to allow people to carry the types of weapons "customarily carried in those days by ordinary infantry soldiers."

"And, yes, does that mean that in this day and age people would have the right to have access to the kind of the weapons our ordinary infantry people have access to? With proper training and so forth to make sure that they could handle them successfully, that's exactly what was meant."

Keyes made the remarks at a news conference he called to attack the "ideological extremism" of his Democratic opponent, state Sen. Barack Obama.

See the rest in the Chicago Sun-Times ...

By the way, you know Keyes is in good form here since he has to note that allowing citizens to bear atomic weapons would be an excessively literalist reading of the 2nd Amendment.

Oh, that's beautiful.

The Bush campaign and Swift Boat Veterans for Truth have so little in common that they share an election lawyer -- Florida recount veteran, Benjamin Ginsberg.

He must be over there to enforce President Bush's well-known opposition to 527s.

Earlier today we noted that in an NPR story on the Swift Boat wars, Senior Correspondent John McChesney reported that the Bush campaign had "denounced" the claims of William Rood, the Chicago Tribune editor who has supported Kerry's account of one of the Swift Boat episodes, saying his comments were "politically motivated".

McChesney told me via email this afternoon that he misspoke. It was the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, not the Bush campaign, that denounced Rood's story.

Ahhh, Alessandra Stanley in<$NoAd$> the Times, music to the ears ...

CNN showed less relish over the Swift boat clash, but it was not much more helpful in separating fact from friction. Wolf Blitzer's interview with the tart-tongued Mr. Dole made a lot of news on Sunday, but CNN allowed him to make misleading assertions without pointing out where he was in error. Mr. Dole suggested that Mr. Kerry was in a rush to obtain his Purple Hearts to meet a regulation that allowed soldiers to leave the war zone after winning three. "I mean, the first one, whether he ought to have a Purple Heart - he got two in one day, I think. And he was out of there in less than four months, because three Purple Hearts and you're out." ( Mr. Kerry did not receive two Purple Hearts for events of the same day. He received them for the events of Dec. 2, 1968; Feb. 20, 1969; and March 13, 1969.)

Finally, yesterday afternoon, Mr. Blitzer spoke to Mr. Dole by telephone and asked him if he regretted any of his statements. Mr. Dole said he did not.

"I wasn't trying to be mean-spirited," Mr. Dole said. "I was just trying to say all these guys on the other side just can't be Republican liars."

That kind of air-kiss coverage is typical of cable news, where the premium is on speed and spirited banter rather than painstaking accuracy. But it has grown into a lazy habit: anchors do not referee - they act as if their reportage is fair and accurate as long as they have two opposing spokesmen on any issue.

Ain't it the truth ...

Okay, I think we've got the winner for the most inane Bush-Swift Boat headline.

From the Bloomington, Indiana Herald Times: "Bush calls anti-Kerry ad 'false and libelous."

Great work, guys.

Tomorrow in the Winfield Crier: "Bush: I Hate the Swift Boat Guys. End Ads Now!"

Thursday in the Podunk Sentinel: "Bush: I Was on The Boat with Kerry."

Friday in the Lumpville Courier: "Bush Breaks Silence: Kerry Saved My Life in 'Nam."

I just listened to this NPR report by John McChesney on the Swift Boat controversy. It's a good report, but it doesn't raise any points that would surprise you if you've been following the story closely in the press over the last few days. But at the tail end of the segment McChesney mentions William B. Rood's piece in the Chicago Tribune over the weekend, his the Trib editor who came forward to back up Kerry's version of events during one of the incidents in question. Then he says that the Bush campaign "denounced" Rood's claims, saying they are "politically motivated".

Did McChesney get that right? If so, why is the Bush camp attacking Rood? Why are they running interference for and defending the Swift Boat group? Is this a case where McChesney stated publicly what the Bush crew is trying to do off the record?