Last week marked the one year anniversary when President Obama ordered that dangerous raid that resulted in the death of the Real Terrorist of Abbottabad, Osama bin Laden. Having been viciously attacked by Republicans during his improbable run in 2008 with regards to lacking foreign policy experience, international affairs have actually been one of Obama’s strengths, so he wished to tout the bin Laden accomplishment in political ads. Maybe because Obama didn’t play dress up and land on an aircraft carrier before bin Laden was killed, Republicans chided the president for ‘politicizing’ the death of Osama bin Laden. Oh, how amnesia is one of their favorite past times.
Now, a new sinister group of right-wing vulgarians called Veterans For A Strong America (apparently Chicken-sh*t Hawks for a Bloated Defense budget was already taken) was created with the nefarious aim of distorting (or “Swiftboating”) the president’s monumental achievement of killing Bin Laden. And in keeping with all of today’s right-wing noisemakers, they’re pretty gangsta about it.
Just in case you’ve been on steady diet of Roofies in order to squash the paralytic and dystopian memories of the Bush years, swiftboating was another one of those cool-sounding words but with odious connotations injected into the political vernacular of the electorate. Further, it referred to the Karl Rove-funded 527 attack group of individuals calling themselves the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, whose perpetual attacks on 2004 Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry’s Vietnam service helped contribute to Kerry’s loss to Bush. But unlike the flip-flopping, uncharismatic milquetoast in John Kerry, President Obama has the wherewithal and political firepower in VP Joe Biden to withstand such flagrant attacks. After all, this is a man who burned Donald Trump to his face right as he was preparing to kill Osama Bin Laden, so it’s safe to assume he has the strength to take out a Swiftboater of one.
But the goal of Arends, according to Think Progress, remains to take“what’s perceived to be [Obama's] greatest strength” — the successful raid on Osama Bin Laden’s Pakistani compound — and make it “his greatest weakness.”
Arends, who refused to tell Think Progress any of the groups’ finances and leadership, nevertheless appears intent on using this single issue to derail the president’s reelection. At least he isn’t calling for Bin Laden’s long form death certificate. So that’s an improvement.
Here’s what you need to know about Vets for a Strong America, from Think Progress:
1. In four days, the first ad by Veterans For A Strong America garnered almost 1 million views on Youtube. It has also been played frequently on TV news shows. [YouTube, 5/1/12]
2. Veterans For A Strong America is seeking to recruit Navy SEALS to attack Obama. “In the wake of a warm conservative reception for a web video trashing the president for ‘spiking the football’ on the anniversary of Osama Bin Laden’s death, the conservative group Veterans for a Strong America plans to gather Navy SEALs and Special Forces operators to criticize the White House during the 2012 campaign.” [BuzzFeed, 5/3/12]
3. Arends also tried to Swift Boat Obama in 2008. Arends, under the auspices of a similar group called “Vets for Freedom,” ran an ad accusing Obama of refusing to meet with wounded soldiers from Illinois. [NPR, 7/5/08]
4. Arends worked as a consultant for the Koch Brothers’ Americans for Prosperity. “Though he doesn’t list it on his public resume, around 2006 Arends went to work for Craig Dewey, the state director of Americans for Prosperity, an advocacy outfit that’s Astroturfed everything from the tea party and the Wisconsin union fight to public-school segregation.” The Koch Brothers and their allies have pledged to spend $100 million to defeat Obama. [Mother Jones, 5/4/12; HuffingtonPost, 2/3/12]
5. In 2008, Arends — posing as a “journalist” — organized and participated in a taxpayer-subsidized propaganda trip to Iraq. “American taxpayers are paying for politically slanted, pro-McCain, anti-Obama ‘reporters’ embedded with U.S. troops in Iraq. Vets for Freedom – a pro-war organization that buys attack ads against Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama – assembled a team of eight military veterans with dubious journalistic credentials to report ‘objectively’ on what is occurring in Iraq…Joel Arends, another “reporter,” is VFF’s executive director and was on McCain’s campaign payroll between March 2007 and February 2008.” [Charleston Gazette, 8/28/08]
6. Arends is coordinating with key Islamophobic figures on the far right. He regularly appears at events with anti-Islam conspiracy theorist Frank Gaffney, who has been condemned by mainstream conservatives for his intolerant views. He is also alligned with William “Jerry” Boykin, who was found to have violated Pentagon rules by expressing his anti-Muslim views in an official capacity. [ThinkProgress, 2/12/12; For The Common Defense; New York Times, 3/4/05]
7. Arends helped promote a documentary advocating war with Iran. Arends appeared on a panel in March 2011 in South Dakota promoting the documentary Iranium, which strongly suggests beginning a war with Iran. [Flier; ThinkProgress, 11/3/11]
8. Veterans for A Strong America is fully endorsed by Karl Rove. The man known as “Bush’s Brain” tweeted his support of their first web ad. [Twitter, 5/3/12]
Michael is a comedian/VO artist/Columnist extraordinaire, who co-wrote an award-nominated comedy, produces a chapter of Laughing Liberally, wrote for NY Times Laugh Lines, guest-blogged for Joe Biden, and writes a column for MSNBC.com affiliated Cagle Media. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, Youtube, like NJ Laughing Liberally Lab, and check out his Mitt Happens cafe press store. Seriously, follow him or he’ll send you a photo of Rush Limbaugh bending over in a thong.