Sunday, June 22, 2008

Calling T. Boone's Bluff.

      Excerpted from the New York Times: 
     For most people, “Swift boat” has become a political verb, a synonym for the kind of attack that helped destroy the presidential campaign of Senator John Kerry in 2004.

     But for a group of Vietnam veterans at the center of the attacks, it is still a fresh fight.

     On Friday, the group, who served with Mr. Kerry in Vietnam, sent a letter to T. Boone Pickens, the billionaire Texas oilman who helped finance the 2004 attack advertisements, taking him up on a challenge he issued last November: that he would give $1 million to anyone who could disprove a single charge the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth made against Mr. Kerry.

     The group is working with Mr. Kerry, who himself seized on the challenge soon after Mr. Pickens made it at an American Spectator dinner. In a letter, he offered to meet with Mr. Pickens to rebut the charges. Mr. Pickens wrote back to say that he was good for his money, but that Mr. Kerry would have to provide his military record, the journal he kept in Vietnam and movies and tapes made in his tours there.

     Mr. Pickens also qualified his challenge, saying he meant that someone would have to prove false things in the group’s television advertisements — putting aside a best-selling book and extensive news media interviews that attracted the bulk of the attention. He challenged Mr. Kerry back: if you cannot prove anything inaccurate, give $1 million to the Medal of Honor Foundation, a charity.

     Wait a minute, Mr. Kerry wrote back, you said nothing at the dinner about just the ads. (At least that is how Mr. Pickens’s challenge was reported by conservative blogs.) He said he would meet with Mr. Pickens — “no variations, no backpedaling, no retreat, no new bets, no changing the subject” — and direct his reward money to a charity that helps veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

     Mr. Pickens did not reply.

     So Mr. Kerry’s veteran allies took up the cause. In a 12-page letter — with a 42-page attachment of military records to support their case — they rebut not one but several of the accusations of the Swift boat group.

     The veterans offer to go through Mr. Kerry’s record and the video with Mr. Pickens “page by page, frame by frame.” And they demand an apology, to them “and to the American people.”

     A spokesman for Mr. Pickens, Jay Rosser, said the package had not arrived late Friday. Mr. Pickens — who has said he will not participate in partisan politics this presidential cycle — was traveling and could not be reached for comment.

     Hey, T. Boone: have you cut and run?


No comments: