Posted by: Jim | October 28, 2004

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The Little Conspiracy that Couldn’t

The Swift Boaters were at it again earlier this week when they tried to summon a conspiracy against Kerry. Conservative bloggers all over the place pounced on the notion with all the forethought a puppy has when pouncing on its vittles.

Here’s what allegedly happened:

Jerome Corsi (Swift Boat Veteran for Truth) and his buddy went to the Vietnam War Archive and uncovered this document. It is a circular distributed within Vietnamese communists in Vietnam wherein they are given an update on the anti-war movements within the U.S. It gives strategic direction on how to instruct, influence these anti-war people. File this under “Obvious.” If you read it, you will not find Kerry’s name mentioned. Nor will you find the “Vietnam Veterans Against the War,” which was Kerry’s group, mentioned. The circular particularly targets two other groups.

The second document is considered the “Smoking Gun,” but it just isn’t. The top of the document says DIRECTIVE, and it actually is a directive, but the first half of the memo recounts issues that have already happened. They talk about protests that Kerry was involved with, and that Vietnam Vets threw away their medals. Then it says “Taking advantage of this occasion, all local areas should do the following:” and the actual directive begins.

What Corsi and the vets are implying, is that the anti-war movement in the United States was somehow part of the machinations of the Communist endeavor, and that Kerry was a cog in that machine.

But here’s the rub. Although this “breaking news” was plastered all over the internet, and on many conservative blogs. The best this “news” could do was make it to the NY Sun. In that article, they merely imply that Vietnam Communists approved of Kerry’s anti-war activities. Well, duh? Of course they did. But implying that this means that Kerry was wrong is argumentum ad hominem. Just because communists like it doesn’t mean it’s bad, people. Kerry’s anti-war activities were legitimate, valid, and I think–good. Wake up and smell the 21st Century Swift Boaters. Communism isn’t a menace anymore.

So … the news that the blogosphere inferred from this never actually bubbled up to the legitimate press. Why? Because beneath all the foam, there is actually very little beer.

What Corsi managed to cobble together was a series of dotted lines that vaguely form a shape of a conspiracy–the worst of which would mean that Kerry was unwittingly a rube 33 years ago.

There is no story here. Go back to what you were doing.

The scary thing is, it almost became a story by virtue of the madness of the crowd among whom this information was passing. Case in point. Wizbang says, and I quote: “I have not even read this yet so I can’t make any judgments on its merits.” But because it was kibbles, they bit. It was posted and the meme spread faster than the bit about Richard Gere’s evening with the gerbil.

Conservatives will say that this story never made it to the mainstream press because of a liberal bias. Yawn. The Conservatives will also point to “Rathergate” and say that the Liberal press pounced on THAT story. Correct, but that is different. The memo used by Dan Rather in that story would have been an actual smoking gun, and later it turned out to be falsified. Corsi’s memo is real, but it is not a smoking gun. It’s more like a … steaming yo-yo.

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