Ryan Lizza has a semi-definitive piece on the Kerry campaign's communications strategy to handle the Swifties, writing that the campaign believed the rules of the road changed on them midstream. If it weren't for cable and conservative echo chamber, the campaign could well have ignored the charges and went forth on that assumption initially. Lizza still finds much to be desired in how the campaign responded.
"The Swift Boat controversy has been bubbling for months, and inside the campaign, some aides, such as John Hurley, Kerry's veterans' coordinator, and John Martilla, a senior adviser, had been making the case that Kerry needed to get ahead of the story. The consensus -- and perhaps not unreasonable -- view, however, was that aggressively taking on the Swiftees would only raise awareness of their accusations. Still, Democrats outside the campaign are astounded at how unprepared the first Kerry surrogates were to do battle with the vets on the cable chat shows. For example, when O'Neill made his first round of TV appearances, the Kerry campaign sent out Jeh Johnson, a former Air Force attorney, to rebut him. Though he is a telegenic and savvy spokesman, Johnson got buried by a barrage of accusations from Unfit for Command for which he seemed to have no specific fact-based response." LINK
Then there's this:
"A final postmortem critique is that the last few weeks highlighted the need to revamp Kerry's communications staff. Senior communications aides have been turf-conscious and reluctant to share authority with others. But, at the peak of the Swiftee frenzy, the campaign finally added two old Clinton pros to help out. Former White House Press Secretary Joe Lockhart will now serve as the traveling press secretary, while ex-Clinton adviser Joel Johnson will run the campaign's war room, a position aides say had never been clearly defined. After the toughest stretch of the campaign thus far, the news was greeted like a breath of fresh air at Kerry headquarters. 'It's like the adults are coming in to babysit the kids,' says one staffer. 'I've been in meetings where I think, 'What the fuck experience do any of us have with this stuff?' These guys are adults.'"
Lt. Larry Thurlow et al have challenged Kerry on his recollection of the night he won the Bronze Star, saying that he was not under fire when he rescued Jim Rassmunn. Thurlow says Kerry concocted the report on which the Bronze Star was based, but that report doesn't have Kerry's name on it as a witness — it has "R.E. Lambert."
The Nation's David Corn obtained Lambert's full citation, published here, LINK, but Lambert was not quoted in that story.
Now, AP has found Lambert and he says not only that his report supporting Kerry is correct but also that Thurlow probably didn't even realize they were under attack: "Thurlow was far too distracted with rescue efforts to even realize he was under fire. He was concentrating on trying to save lives."
Ret. Admiral Bill Schachte disputes Kerry's account of his first Purple Heart in an interview with Bob Novak. LINK
Novak's Schachte scoop makes the front page of the New York Post . LINK
Under the headline "We're Not GOP Shills," John O'Neill asks John Kerry on the The Wall Street Journal 's op-ed page to "please stop maligning your fellow veterans."