Jewish World Review August 20, 2004 / 3 Elul, 5764

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Why the Swift Boat ads are working | The Kerry Swift Boat controversy continues occupying space in the presidential campaign. As long-time Kerry nemesis, John O'Neill's scathing book of the Democratic nominee races up the "New York Times" best selling list. (Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.)

A new survey shows that the Swift Boat ads that blast Senator Kerry as liar, unfit for office, may be moving undecided voters. If not to the president, then at least away from John Kerry. Meanwhile, the pro-Kerry group has released an ad, accusing George Bush of ducking combat duty, duh. The survey suggests that Moveon's ad apparently swayed fewer votes. And for good reasons.

Voters already know that George W. Bush stayed stateside during the Vietnam War. And they also know that there are more than a few unanswered questions regarding his service in the Texas National Guard. But George Bush never made war service a key part of his campaign. John Kerry did. In fact, many pointed out that John Kerry all but ignored his past 20 years in public service, and focused instead on his four months in Vietnam during his convention in Boston last month.

If the senator's critics have their way, that's a move that John Kerry may one-day regret. In the end, voters should focus on the future in electing the president, not the distant past. Still, Mr. Kerry needs to do two things to put this crisis behind him. First of all, he needs to blast these attacks personally. Now, if I were a war hero, and somebody was lying about my war record, I would go to their media event, and I would debone them myself.

And secondly, John Kerry needs to apologize. That's right; apologize for calling Vietnam vets war criminals back in 1971. I know it was a long time ago, but a smile, a shrug, and a suggestion that he should have toned down his comments in 1971 is not enough. Just say, "I was wrong to accuse American troops of war crimes when I was younger, and for that I'm sorry."

Maybe then Americans can get back to focusing on issues that are really going to affect us in the future, instead of replaying controversies from the distant past.

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Former Congressman Joe Scarborough (R-Fla.) hosts “Scarborough Country,” 10 p.m. ET, weeknights on MSNBC. Comment by clicking here.

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