Swiftly False Revisionism
According to Jerome Corsi, Ben Barnes was telling the truth about President Bush's National Guard record -- and Corsi apparently knew it during the 2004 election. Why didn't Corsi say so then, or stop the Swift Boat Veterans from attacking Barnes?
By Terry Krepel
Creating revisionist history is a favorite pastime of ideologues. It helps, though, if you're not on record as contradicting yourself.
Jerome Corsi is the co-author of "Unfit for Command," the John Kerry-bashing book released during the 2004 presidential campaign to boost the allegations of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (now Swift Vets and POWs for Truth), whose attacks on Kerry's Vietnam War record mostly fell somewhere between highly dubious and completely false. That didn't keep Corsi from pushing another claim that falls within those same parameters: that the Swift Boat Vets weren't surrogates for President Bush's 2004 re-election campaign.
Last fall, Corsi was issuing almost-daily attacks on Harriet Miers, Bush's failed pick for the Supreme Court, regarding various alleged shady dealings, mostly involving her stint as head of the Texas Lottery Commission in the late 1990s.
In an Oct. 3 column, while noting the role in that controversy of Barnes, a former Texas lieutenant governor who was a lobbyist for the private company that operated the Texas lottery during Miers' tenure, Corsi made a surprising admission: that "to this day nobody has disproved Barnes played the role he said he did" regarding Bush and the National Guard.
But instead of delving into that, Corsi went the revisionist-history route:
I doubt if the Swift Boat Vets will come back together to pursue this one -- the only complaint the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ever agreed on was that John Kerry was "Unfit for Command," not that George W. Bush was. Just writing this article should dismiss some of the urban legend that the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth were just a Bush campaign surrogate.
There are several reasons not to swallow Corsi's disingenuous take. Chief among them is the timing of his statement about Barnes -- appearing just a day after Bush announced Miers' nomination on Oct. 3. This indicates that Corsi has known about Barnes' veracity for some time and was apparently itching for a reason to tell it.
An Oct. 28 WorldNetDaily article appears to confirm this, stating that "research he [Corsi] came across during the 2004 campaign -- concerning former Lt. Gov. Ben Barnes and the Texas Lottery Commission scandals" led him to pursue Miers. If Corsi knew Barnes was telling the truth before the election -- as the WND quote indicates he did -- why didn't he defend Barnes at that time?
Perhaps because the Swift Boat Vets were, in fact, surrogates for the Bush campaign. The same PR firm that was helping the Swift Boat Vets spread their questionable allegations was, at the same time, tearing apart the CBS "60 Minutes" report that raised questions about Bush's military service, a report that included the first TV interview with Barnes regarding his claims about getting Bush into the National Guard. As Salon.com reported, Creative Response Concepts -- the agency run by former Pat Buchanan communications director Greg Mueller whose client list includes the Republican National Committee, the Christian Coalition, and "Unfit for Command" publisher Regnery -- was working for the Swift Boat Vets at the same time it was hawking right-wing press releases attacking "60 Minutes."
Corsi now laments that "[t]he Barnes melodrama got drowned out by the forged document saga" that ultimately cast a permanent cloud over the "60 Minutes" report, even though many of the allegations it made about Bush -- including those made by Barnes -- were not affected by the questions surrounding those documents. But Corsi made no effort to keep Barnes from being "drowned out," though he was apparently in a position to do so.
The PR firm isn't the only Republican link to the Swift Boat Vets; the group had connections to an entire cadre of conservatives who we can presume were in favor of Bush's re-election. Among them: Benjamin Ginsberg, an attorney advising the Swift Boat Vets who was also an adviser to Bush's re-election campaign; public relations executive Merrie Spaeth, who was married to Tex Lezar, Bush's running mate in the 1994 Texas governor's race; and Bob Perry, an early funder of the Swift Boat Vets who is a longtime Republican donor and Bush backer and a friend of the man known as "Bush's brain," Karl Rove.
Corsi also appears to be conveniently ignorant of the adage, "The enemy of my enemy is my friend." By being explicitly anti-Kerry, the Swift Boat Vets were, for all practical purposes, pro-Bush. Certainly Corsi is not so innocent that he didn't know that the effect of the Swift Boat Vets' attacks on Kerry would be to boost Kerry's opponent.
If Corsi and the Swift Boat Vets genuinely wanted to dispel any concerns about being labeled a "Bush campaign surrogate," they could have backed up the validity of Barnes' accusations -- and the irrelevance of the disputed documents to them -- before the 2004 election. But they didn't; their so-called pursuit of the "truth" stopped at telling it about Bush during the campaign, when it mattered the most.
Still, Corsi was eager to continue his revisionism. An Oct. 15 WorldNetDaily article touting Corsi's plan to run against Kerry for his Massachusetts Senate seat -- the article calls Corsi "an admirer of Ronald Reagan who identifies himself as a pro-life, social conservative" -- stated once again that Corsi's attacks on Miers should put to rest charges that the Swift Boat Vets were "stooges" of the Bush administration. Apparently feeling confident about getting that claim aloft, Corsi attempted to launch another one in the same article, insisting that his infamous smears of Kerry, the Clintons, Catholics, Muslims and others, made at the conservative forum Free Republic, were taken "out of context."
While it would undoubtedly be entertaining to hear Corsi expound on the proper context in which to place his calling Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton a "fat hog" or claiming that Catholic priests and Muslims are practitioners of "boy buggering" in the sphere of civilized public discourse, perhaps Corsi should keep his contradictions to one historical revisionism attempt at a time.