Smearing John Kerry

Quick---Who is this man, and why should his problems be news?

Guilt by association isn’t always an unethical suggestion. If all of your closest companions are members of the Mafia, I think it’s fair for me to question your values and taste in friends, if not to assume that you might leave a horse head in my bed. More often than not, however, guilt by association is unethically used for character assassination by applying the unfair presumption that an adversary’s associates’ misdeeds can reasonably be attributed to the adversary as well.

You will seldom see as pure and despicable an example of this than the current effort by some on the political Right to smear Sen. John Kerry based on recent revelations about Wade Sanders, like Kerry a Silver Star awardee, who introduced the Massachusetts Senator at the 2004 Democratic Convention.  Sanders knew Kerry when they both were Swiftboat commanders in Vietnam, and  when the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth questioned the legitimacy of Kerry’s record of heroism during that war in their infamous series of attack ads, Sanders led the counterattack. Now Wade Sanders is in Federal prison, serving a 37-month sentence for possessing child pornography, and the Navy Times reports that Secretary of the Navy has revoked Sanders’ Silver Star due to “subsequently determined facts and evidence surrounding both the incident for which the award was made and the processing of the award itself.”

What does any of this tell us about John Kerry? Absolutely nothing. It doesn’t make it likely that Kerry is himself a child porn afficianado, or that he accumulates child porn-lovers as friends. It doesn’t suggest that he knew the secret habits of his wartime buddy, nor does it impugn his judgment in any way. Can you spot someone who likes child porn? I sure can’t. For all I know, I may have a half-dozen friends who are breakling the law behind closed doors. I am not responsible for their conduct in any way. Neither is Kerry responsible for what his old Navy buddy has been doing.

Does the fact that Wade Sanders’s Silver Star was taken away from him call Kerry’s award into question, or make the allegations of the 2004 Swiftboat ads more persuasive? Not one tiny bit! Sanders’ medal was completely unrelated to the incident that led to Kerry’s honor. It is ironic that the most vociferous defender of Kerry’s military record during the 2004 campaign has had his own medal discredited, but that is all it is…irony, and a coincidence. But there it was on the Drudge Report and elsewhere, the news that Wade Sanders was a child porn collector and had his medal taken away. Why would this even be news? Who cares about Wade Sanders? Who remembers Wade Sanders?

It is “news,” obviously, only because it can be used to smear John Kerry, through guilt by association and innuendo, by  seeding suspicion and doubt to cloud Kerry’s reputation with the unrelated acts of  someone who once defended him. This time, the failure of the mainstream media to cover Sanders’ travails isn’t because of left-wing bias, but because of sound journalistic judgment. It’s not a new story—unless the objective is to embarrass Sen. Kerry.

No, Wade Sanders’ troubles aren’t really news. What is news is that the conservative Kerry-haters will abandon all fairness and decency to continue their assault on him.

Come to think of it, that isn’t news either.

Update: I just posted on another edition of this smear, from a source who should know better.

11 thoughts on “Smearing John Kerry

  1. I agree with you, and appreciate you pointing out the deceit of some people on the right.The 2004 election has been long over, yet some people are still trying to relive it every time they hear or read about Senator Kerry. I suppose it irks them that they may have temporarily knocked him down, but not out,

  2. The author fails to mention that Sen Kerry wrote a letter to the Federal Court, testifying on behalf of a child pornographer Wade Sanders good character. Since Sen Kerry chose to interject himself into the case, this would hardly seem to be a case of guilt by association. Just the other day I read several articles bashing Michele Bachmann for being silent on issue of teen suicides in her district. In a district with over 600,000 people she is somehow being blamed to be a part of people choosing to take their own lives. Talk about throwing mud at the wall ! The left does it all the time !

    • So what? I repeat: so WHAT? Explain how Kerry’s conduct in regard to Sanders tells us anything whatsoever about what happened in Vietnam. Sanders put himself on the line for Kerry in 2004. Kerry would have proven himself a total, unappreciative, disloyal creep if he had refused to send such a letter, which is used in sentencing to help judges balance an offense with the context of a defendant’s life.

      Your comparison with Bachmann’s critics is beyond lame. The criticism of Bachmann may be unfair, but at least it is based on HER conduct, not the conduct of a third party. Then you resort to the lamest and most invalid, school yard “justification” of unethical conduct there is: “They do it too!” Ridiculous.

  3. Jack the whole jist of the article was about how the Right smears people…I was not trying to justify anything, was just pointing out both side of the political spectrum deal in that currency. My point was the fact the author didn’t mention that Sen Kerry was directly involved in the case therefore made it erroneous, unethical and a smear within itself.

    I stumble across this site so I don’t know much about it…but isn’t suppose to be about ethics ?

    • No, that wasn’t the gist of the article, nor did I say that. It was about some on the right using unfair innuendo to smear Sen. Kerry. It was quite specific.
      And Kerry’s willingness to write a character letter has no bearing on the issue whatsoever. That does NOT make him “directly involved in the case.” That is factually untrue. He was not a party, nor a witness, nor a participant. The letter is for sentencing purposes only. How does the willingness to write a letter tell you anything about Kerry’s medals?

      The blog isn’t “supposed to be about ethics”…it is about ethics. It is neither pro-right or pro-left. Your comment shows that you didn’t read the post carefully, and began with an anti-Kerry bias, looking for ways to draw a connection where there isn’t one. My not referencing the letter was neither unethical nor erroneous; it was merely logical and fair. If you can explain why the letter should undermine Kerry’s credibility in any way, I’ll concede your point. But you can’t. My father could have written a character letter for the guy–would that mean that HIS Silver Star would be suspect?

      I don’t like Kerry, but like anyone else, he should be criticized for what he has done, not based on a lot of biases, leaps of logic, and unjustified presumptions.

  4. First off Jack I was not sure and still aren’t on whether you were the author of the editorial. My bias for Sen Kerry is no more than any other politicians. (well OK a little) When you get down to brass tacks their all egotist and in it for themselves. Tho I wouldn’t do it, in a way I have to admire Sen Kerry for sticking by his friend in the darkest hour. So, I repeat the author failed to mention that Sen Kerry was directly involved in this case, while accusing others of trying to smear him when he had nothing to do with it…when in fact he did ! I wasn’t trying to undermine Kerry’s credibility in any way, I was trying to point out the whole article was based on a fallacy.

    From Wiki : A fallacy is incorrect argumentation in logic and rhetoric reasoning resulting in a misconception or presumption.

    The fallacy here would be that the author has implied that someone has accused Sen Kerry of being a child porn aficionado and that he accumulates child porn-lovers as friends based on the fact he vouching for a child porn lover ! If you could give me the link where someone creditable wrote that, I’d like to read it for myself since I find it hard to believe.

    Also why is Wade Sanders even news you wonder…well lets put aside that he was once a presidential candidates spokesman. A Vietnam Veteran being striped on a Silver Star (earned in combat only) is news in itself as is a attorney being arrested for anything. Maybe the fact that Mr. Sanders was once Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy, was a senior adviser for Rep. John Garamendi (back when he was the Calif Lt. Governor) and that he once ran for Congress come into play. Sen. Kerry stepping up for a child porn freak is hardly guilt by association…it is guilt by a choice.

    All I’m trying to say is insuate that this type of smear is practiced only by the Right and Kerry haters is laughable and the only people who would believe such a thing are those who want to.

    • Incoherent and repetitious. 1) I am the only author here. This fact is posted. 2) You can not read. I did not say that anyone suggested that Kerry was involved in child porn.3) Sending a character letter is NOT being “involved in the case.” 4) Sanders was not a Kerry spokesperson, not that it would have mattered if he was. 4) What earthly difference does Sanders’ political career have to do with Kerry’s medals? 5) There is not a word in the essay that suggests that only the right engages in smear tactics like this. I didn’t write that because it isn’t true, and I don’t believe it. So I don’t know what you are laughing at. 6) Writing a character letter is not guilt by choice. It isn’t guilt at all. It is kindness. Being kind to a veteran who is shown to have not deserved a medal of valor, you believe, is evidence that the bestower of said kindness is more likely to have an invalidly rewarded medal as well? What kind of logic is that? How can anyone function in the world thinking like that?

      This isn’t an opinion, it’s a delusion.

  5. “Being kind to a veteran who is shown to have not deserved a medal of valor, you believe, is evidence that the bestower of said kindness is more likely to have an invalidly rewarded medal as well? What kind of logic is that?” Jack Marshall

    Where have I said or suggested / insuated Sen Kerrys medals were invalidly earned ? I have not said a word about Wade Sander being stripped of his Silver Star or made any mention of Sen Kerrys award controversy. What I did say was…quote: A Vietnam Veteran being striped on a Silver Star (earned in combat only) is news in itself… close quote. There is no mention of Veteran specifically. I think it is unethical for you to imply that I somehow said Sen Kerry cheated to get his medals.

    As a Army Veteran (noncombatant) I have no postion on whether Sen Kerry deserves his medals or not. The only person who REALLY knows that is the Senator himself. As for Wade Sanders the record is clear. Unlike ultraliberals or rightwingers who get pleasure out of seeing those they politically dispise disgraced and broken, I find nothing to be happy about in Mr Sanders fall from grace. It is a sad thing…but still he only has himself to blame.

    Anyhow lets say Sen Kerry is not involved in the case for the sake of argument. I am not sure why you failed to mention Sen Kerry had contact with Judge Whalen (the presiding judge) on behalf of Mr. Sanders in your editorial. Sen Kerrys letter has been entered as evidence and now is in Federal records…so what would call that ? Since there are people on the left who’se paid job it is to scrutinize everything sarah Palin says and does…looking for that gotcha moment, I don’t understand how you can write such a slanted article to SUGGEST that those dirty smears on the right, thier behavior is unique to them and expect it to be taken serious. (writers note: I have no opinion of Sarah Palin one way or the other…I think about her about as much as last weeks dinner…I could care less)

    Jack you have taken out of context what I have said while ignoring my subject. (said letter and Sen Kerrys involment in the case) You have also ignore my points on why Wade Sanders is ‘news’ and than call my thoughts a delusion. Well the only thing I can say to that is people believe what they want and as a person I guess your entitled to believe what you want. This is your world and I’m just passing thru, since I am beginning to think trying to have any further exchanges with you would be like trying to have a serious talk with a drunk who has been in a bar all day. So all I can say is good luck and God bless !

    After thought: I am still unable to locate your name as the author of the editorial, normally it would come after your headline: Smearing John Kerry. I hope this explains my confusion.

    • TRA, you are irritating me. Here’s why. 1) You don’t know how to read a blog. Look at the top, and click “About.” That shouldn’t be so hard. 2) You don’t know how to read, period. I repeated what was wrong with the innuendo by the Kerry-bashers. I didn’t attribute it to you, though you have been suggesting that their smear was understandable because of an act Kerry engaged in long, long after the matter in question occurred.. I did not take any comment of yours out of context. 3)Though I have explained that it is inaccurate and misleading to say Kerry was “involved in the case,” you keep saying that. Say it again, and I’ll delete the post. 4)Similarly, you suggest that Kerry contacted the judge during the case, or tried to influence the result. Letters of support during sentencing is a routine practice, and does not involve undue influence or suggest any kind of inappropriate behavior. I didn’t mention it because it is irrelevant and meaningless. Since I think that and know that, there was no reason to include it. If you think it was important, write your own article, and good luck with that. Don’t imply that I was hiding the ball and leaving out information that supports the smear when I wasn’t, and it doesn’t. 5) Sanders isn’t news. He’s no one. Few major outlets have covered the story, and the smearers are accusing the media of a cover-up. The media is often guilty of burying stories that make the left look bad, but this isn’t an example of that. It is an example of them ignoring a story that would only have news value IF IT INVOLVED JOHN KERRY, AND IT DOESN’T INVOLVE JOHN KERRY!! The news never reports stripping of military medals unless it is a M.O.H., or if the strippee is famous or significant. Most Americans don’t know what a Silver Star is. I do. My father had one. And he was very clear that the circumstances around any incident of valor in combat were subject to interpretation, and to challenge an award years after the fact was unfair and dirty pool, pure and simple. As usual, he was right. And he thought even less of Kerry than I do. 6) There is, I repeat, nothing in the post that suggests that the Right’s use of smears is unique or confined to their end of the spectrum. I don’t require commenters to read other posts, but if you are going to suggest an unfair slant that is disproved by the content here, I’m not excusing it. In this post, I criticized SOME on the Right, because they deserve it. Elsewhere, I criticize the Left, when they deserved it.

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