Swift Boating into a storm
Presidential scholars do not expect the group of former special operators and CIA agents who released an anti-President Obama film Wednesday to have the same impact on the 2012 presidential election that the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth had on the 2004 presidential election.
Obama’s campaign team quickly compared the Special Operations OPSEC Education Fund, which released a 22-minute film that criticizes the president for the amount of details leaked to the press about the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden, to “Swift Boat tactics.” The group is made up of former special operators with close connections to the Republican party.
“The Republicans are resorting to ‘Swift Boat’ tactics,” Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt said in a statement to Reuters.
Shawn Perry-Giles, director of the University of Maryland’s Center for Political Communication and Civic Leadership, said the comparison is fair and sees the similarities between these special operators and the Republican group that attacked Senator John Kerry in 2004 when he ran against former President George W. Bush.
“In both cases, the attacks are going at a strong point of the candidate’s credibility for office (Kerry as a decorated veteran and Obama who successfully oversaw the capture of Bin laden),” wrote Shawn Perry-Giles, director of the University of Maryland’s Center for Political Communication and Civic Leadership, in an e-mail.
Leaders of the OPSEC fired back telling U.S. News & World Report that their group in now way compares to the Swift Boat group. OPSEC spokesman Chad Coulton told the magazine “this campaign doesn’t have to do with criticizing the president’s military service or anyone else’s.” Instead the group wants Americans to focus on the danger of the leaked information, no matter what party does the leaking.
A debate between the special interest group and the Obama campaign may be unnecessary, though, as some political scholars don’t expect the Republican party to latch onto the special operators much like the Bush campaign did with the Vietnam veterans.
By drawing attention to the leaks, the Republican leadership would also spotlight President Obama’s top national security accomplishment — capturing and killing the terrorist responsible for 9/11. Republicans would rather not talk about why Bin Laden was caught under a Democrat and not a Republican, said David Karol, an associate professor of American politics at the University of Maryland.
“The makers of the video are inevitably reminding voters about successes that occurred on Obama’s watch– killing Bin Laden and using the Stuxnet computer virus to sabotage the Iranian nuclear program. That’s likely to be less effective than linking Kerry to lingering bad feelings about America’s failure in Vietnam and the divisions it produced in American society,” Karol wrote in an e-mail.