Had enough of Swift boat fog of war? Salon readers come out swinging. Plus: Debating Bill Cosby's tough-love lectures.

By Salon Staff
Published August 26, 2004 11:11PM (EDT)

[Read "When Republicans Attack," by Tim Grieve.]

John Kerry's response to the Swift boat slander isn't the problem. It's that the press is falling in line like donkeys for the Bush carrot.

Just weeks ago the media were apologizing to us for delivering the Iraq war to Bush. "Oh, yeah, sorry about never ever double-checking any of the facts that the Bush people gave us. We promise it won't happen again."

Now they report these Swift boat stories as if there were even a thread of truth in them. It's very interesting that when a Democrat is stuck with the liar label, it sticks and won't let go. Now they are putting it on Kerry and it is working. Yet, Bush, who has lied and misled the American people almost nonstop since day one, is viewed as somehow pure.

-- Dave DeBaker

Where is the evidence of what impact the stories about Kerry's military service are having on voters, particularly the undecided voters in battleground states who will decide this election? Where is the evidence that stories about Bush's National Guard service make people more or less likely to vote for him? How do we know that these aren't just stories written by journalists for politicos and other journalists?

Comparing the attacks on John Kerry to those on John McCain in the 2000 South Carolina primary is not apt. Those attacks spoke directly to McCain's fitness for the office of president; the (false) allegations that Sen. Kerry's Vietnam heroism has been exaggerated do not, except to the extent that they can be said to go to his "character." I personally doubt that such attacks persuade anyone but firmly committed Bush supporters.

In the same way, I believe that merely repeating the allegations that President Bush has lied about his National Guard service won't persuade anyone. If the Democrats can come up with proof that he went AWOL and has lied about it, they should come out with it; if they can't, they are better off sticking to attacks on Bush's abysmal record as president. There is plenty to say about that.

-- Gary Cohen

It is incredible that the Kerry-Edwards campaign has responded like cowards to this Swift boat bullshit. They have let the evil GOP bastards define Kerry, taking the heat off four years of Old George's ruinous rule, and his no-show National Guard duty.

I am so pissed off that my hair is falling out, and my wife is going to divorce me if I don't take a cruise before the election. Not a dime more will I donate to the DNC or MoveOn until I see some of George's blood in the water on this issue.

-- Lance Armstrong

[Read "Father Knows Best," by Karin Stanford.]

If Bill Cosby's concern for black youth were genuine, he would have chosen to reprimand his own peers, those well-educated black professionals who W.E.B. DuBois referred to as the "talented tenth." When Cosby was a child, African-Americans used their college degrees to teach in K-12 schools and lived in the same communities as the maids and janitors who worked in white homes and businesses. By the late '70s, however, integration became less a novelty and more a norm for moving up the class ladder. The black upper-middle and upper classes abandoned the working class and ignored the underclass black children while taking their own children to and from Sunday school.

As an integration baby, I'm no fan of black liberals or black conservatives on this issue, because I don't see any of them spending significant time as neighborhood teachers or mentors. Publicity stunts and speeches add up to zero in quality time with children and young people. Giving money to universities is important, and Cosby's philanthropy is legendary. However, his gifts come with the bitter aftertaste of plain, old-fashioned class snobbery. I'm sick of hearing well-educated celebrities and journalists spin about African-American ignorance without becoming a part of the solution. If Cosby thinks that black parents are doing a lousy job raising and teaching kids, then he needs to do more than write books -- he needs to teach.

-- Cherie Turpin

I am a 50-year-old African-American woman. I am a very proud graduate of UC-Berkeley, with a degree in political science and a teaching credential. I was raised by parents from the segregated South who knew a good education was the key if I was to have a chance in a world that still on many days judges people by the color of their skin and not the content of their character.

As a preteen and teenager, I was mercilessly bullied and harrassed by other black kids because I was smart and "sounded white." It took a long time for the wounds from their taunts to heal. Anti-intellectualism is pervasive in our society, and African-Americans cannot afford to dismiss the importance of education. When I first read what Bill Cosby had said at Howard, I thought "thank God." This anti-intellectualism is a dirty secret in our community, and it needs to be addressed. I am sure that wherever my parents are, they are looking down and saying, "Amen, Bill."

-- Iris Fluellen

I wholeheartedly agree with Bill Cosby's commentary on the need to be educated and to speak well. However, I think the message applies just as much to white kids.

From my experience with small, white Midwest schools, sports are the reason people to go to school. Sports get the brunt of funding and are the last to be cut. Although only the most minute percentage of students ever become professional athletes, the possibility of "could be" outweighs the consideration that most students "can be" in other well-paid professions. The point of showing up at school is not to get educated, but to stay on the team. "Useless" activities like music, art, forensics and math clubs don't need funding because even if a student excels at these areas, they won't have a huge "payoff" like professional sports.

Education adds worth to your person. School needs to be more than a place to play football and bide your time before you can go pro ... or start working at the Quickie-mart full time. Now if we could just get the teachers to understand that.

-- Elaine Meszaros

[Read "The Bull's-Eye State," by Lisa Chamberlain.]

My God, once Ohioans realize that such titans as Fisher Stevens and Chad Lowe (brother of Rob) are stumping for Kerry, the state will turn blue faster than Violet Beauregard.

Thank you, TV quasi-celebrities, for making Karl Rove's job that much easier. (Between Milton Friedman and Bradley Whitford, nobody is wiser than ... Bradley Whitford!) Susan Sarandon, thank you most of all: Your film career is in the shitter, but you can always portray Anita Roddick on a Lifetime hagiography (Perry King can play Gordon).

I think the next best strategic exercise for BOB [Bring Ohio Back] -- a funny acronym on so many levels, as any Village Voice reader can attest -- would be to send in Margaret Cho and Janeane Garofalo on Election Day. The combination of Cho in three-sizes-too-small leather pants, with that enormous melon head, and Garofalo, looking pensive and constipated while spouting words such as "solipsistic" and "crypto-fascist" are just what the rural folk need to see in order to vote for John F. Kerry and send ol' Dubya back to Crawford, Texas.

-- Carl Beatty

Salon Staff

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