freedom of what?

If you’ve not been following American election news, you probably haven’t heard about the shady group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, who made up a story about how John Kerry lied in order to get medals from the Vietnam war. These people have been losing their credibility over the last few days, as it’s come out that they’ve been very closely linked to the Bush campaign (it’s illegal for an independently funded “527″ political group to coordinate with a political candidate) and in their allegations have contradicted things they themselves have said in the past. However the press here have been at least tacitly giving credence to their claims by doing very little to investigate the veracity of the allegations, and certainly very little to say that the claims are basically false – Kerry’s record has been completely backed up by military records and various other eyewitness accounts.

So it seems especially galling when Bush spouts a load of nonsense about how he’s also been victimized by other 527 groups:

On his opponent John Kerry, he declined to condemn the television advertisement paid for by a veterans group alleging that the Democrat presidential candidate came by his medals dishonestly.

But he stressed too that he was a victim of the same type of political interest groups – called 527 committees after the section of the tax code which governs this type of organisation – which are attacking Mr Kerry.

“I understand how Senator Kerry feels – I’ve been attacked by 527s too,” he said.

And he’s now saying that he wants to take legal or legislative action to ban these groups. So much for freedom of speech – what a country! Plus there’s the fact that MoveOn, ACT etc have taken great pains to be sure that their ads and campaigns against Bush at least have a grain of truth – the nonsense which has been slung at Kerry is just baseless – the only reason it’s been reported so widely is that they are very well funded by Texan Republican donors, and the media has been lazy and feeble enough to start giving them credence.

UPDATE: Please also take the time to read Mark Morford on this. He’s a bit rantier than me, but you know, he gets paid for it. And I’m going to need a tonic to counter the Republican National Convention coverage next week.

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