Not so swift

Not so swift

: The real lesson of the whole Swift Board brouhaha is this:

America isn’t over Vietnam — not by a long shot.

I said when Kerry gave his acceptance speech and John-John salute in Boston that I couldn’t believe Vietnam had been rehabilitated as a word and a war in America. Well, I couldn’t believe it for good reason. What we’re really seeing in this alleged controversy now — besides mud-slinging for mud-slinging’s sake — is the old prowar and antiwar sides fighting over the war once more.

By emphasizing Vietnam, Kerry scraped the scab of the war. And then the Swifties — backed by Bushies — poured salt onto it. The wound is not healed. And it’s stinging again. If we’re not careful, it will start bleeding.

Nothing good is coming of this. It’s not illuminating anything about the candidates. Oh, you can screech at me all you want about this in the comments — Lord knows, you have — but all the screeching won’t tell me what to think. As a voter, I still say I don’t care.

I don’t care about the Vietnam war.

We are in a war now. We are in a war against terrorists and Islamofascists and for modernity and civilization and America. That is the war I care about.

You can blame whomever you want for this fuss and muss. I don’t care about that, either. You can argue that this is really about character — Kerry’s or Bush’s; I’ll have a fuller answer to that shortly.

And you can say it’s about media but note that news media are doing what news media should do: They are reporting. They didn’t just swallow what the Swifties had to say. They dug and found out that everything isn’t as the Swifties or as Kerry says; it’s never that simple, folks. So see the Chicago Tribune today, where one of Kerry’s men points to the untruths of the Swifties. See the Washington Post this weekend sorting through errors of fact or memory on both sides. See the New York Times Friday pointing to inconsistent statements of the Swifties and their Bush backing. Be careful what you wish for: Big news media is paying attention and it’s reporting.

But this argument can go back and forth forever and will we be one bit better off? No, we won’t be.

I watched the start of Meet the Press this morning (before the kids hijacked the TV for Sponge Bob) and not one second was devoted to how to improve the country, only to the mud.

Vietnam has moved on and we haven’t.

Meanwhile, there are issues pressing us today: the war on terrorism and terrorists’ war on us; health insurance; the economy; education; free speech; technology innovation; energy independence; and on and on. And we’re wasting sweat and bile over this. Throw away your WayBack machines, folks.

Vietnam is over. It’s the war we lost and we keep losing it.

: MORE: After writing this post, I read a comment left below by David Crisp, who seems to be editor of BillingsNews faulting bloggers of both sides on this story:

….bloggers have blown the Swift Vets story bigtime. I’ve been looking through the blogosphere for two weeks for even one fair-minded account of this controversy. Every place I turn, I find only pro-Kerry folks who think it’s a nonstory and pro-Bush folks who start with the assumption that Kerry is a liar.

That’s just garbage. I want the facts before I decide whether it’s a story. And I’m willing to entertain the possibility that Kerry might be a liar, but that’s not where I want the discussion to start.

To get a handle on where this story really stands, I have found no worthy alternative to the mainstream media. They may have moved more slowly than bloggers, but they did real reporting, added new information, put the issues in perspective and made sense of it all.

Maybe somebody in the blogosphere has done that, too, but I sure haven’t managed to find it. Maybe I rely too much on Instapundit. Please, somebody tell me where to find a balanced blog account. All I find is arrogance, flim-flam and self-congratulation.

What’s really sad is that bloggers and reporters could make great partners: reporters asking questions on the ground, and bloggers doing research and fact checking and creating a forum for discussion. I would love to run a tough story through a gantlet of concerned bloggers who would help me hone, focus and sharpen it. But as a working reporter, all I seem to get from bloggers is contempt.

If blogging is what we have to look forward to as a replacement for newspapers, then I think I’ll give up reading altogether.