Is Sestak getting "Swift-boated" by Specter?

Only in the sense that Arlen Specter is telling an inconvenient truth about Joe Sestak’s military career, after Sestak made it a centerpiece of his campaign.  Sound familiar?

The war of words between Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) and Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) in Pennsylvania’s Senate primary has Democrats worried.

In the latest salvo, Sestak accused Specter of swift-boating his military record.

The senator released a 30-second spot earlier this week that said the former Navy admiral was relieved of duty at one point for creating a “poor command climate.”

Sestak invoked Vice President Joe Biden in his response, point to a statement Biden said in 2008 regarding the swift-boat tactics used in the presidential election

“Swift-boating is not going to work this time, and the reason it’s not is, number one, I’m going to smack ‘em right square in the chops,” Biden said at the time.

As long as one qualifies “Swift boating” as telling the truth, then Sestak’s on solid ground. Sestak became the highest-ranking officer ever to win election to Congress in 2006, but his career came to a halt when he got relieved of command for exactly the reason Specter notes in his commercials. Sestak apparently wants to have it both ways in this race; he wants to run on his military record, but doesn’t want his military record to get discussed by his opponents.

Perhaps Sestak should talk to John Kerry and see how well that worked out.  Kerry made his own Vietnam combat experience the centerpiece of his campaign as Democrats attempted to paint George W. Bush as a privileged son avoiding life-threatening duty in the National Guard — just a mere four years after the last Democratic President served after really dodging the draft.  Kerry even jumped on stage and declared himself “ready to serve,” which was just a little too much for over 250 of his swift-boat colleagues from Vietnam who recalled Kerry’s service much differently than his campaign painted it — and who then exposed many fabrications and exaggerations made by Kerry during the campaign.  To this day, Kerry claims victimization for having his war record criticized during his attempt to smear his opponent as a coward, a laughable pose that has rendered Kerry a joke to all but the far Left.

So as long as we have the correct context for that term, then Sestak is right — he’s being “Swift boated,” and it’s no one’s fault but his own.  When candidates make their military record part of their argument for voters to support them, then the entirety of the military record becomes fair game for debate.  When candidates run explicitly as Catholics as part of their campaign, the same holds true (which was another of Kerry’s hypocrisies).  Offering those kinds of campaigns and then complaining that people take it seriously is certainly hypocritical — but worse yet, it’s whiny.  People don’t vote for whiners, which Sestak should have learned from 2004.

Of course, for those of us on the other side of this particular contest, it provides some amusement in an already promising midterm cycle.  Pass the popcorn, folks!

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David Strom 2:31 PM on June 04, 2023