Thursday, September 02, 2004

A couple of days ago I wrote about the Kerry campaign's smear stories about retired Rear Admiral William Schachte. Schachte went public recently saying that he was there when Kerry won his first Purple Heart and that there was no return fire. A number of people including Schachte's commanding officer at the time said that he must have been there since he always went on these missions and it was a training mission for Kerry.

This is what the Kerry Rapid Response Team has to say about Schachte:

$40 Million Contract From the Bush Administration And a “Swift Shift In Stories.” “Four days ago, retired naval Rear Adm. William L. Schachte Jr. Seconded accusations made by the group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth seeking to discredit Democratic presidential nominee John F. Kerry's record in Vietnam. But since then, Democrats have discovered that Schachte is also a long-standing supporter of President Bush and a lobbyist whose client FastShip Inc. Recently
won a $40 million grant from the federal government. According to a March 18 legal filing by Schachtes firm, Blank Rome, Schachte was one of the lobbyists working for FastShip on issues such as the effort to win funding for a new marine cargo terminal. On Feb. 2, Philadelphia-based FastShip announced that it would receive $40 million in federal funding for the project.” [Washington Post, 8/30/04]

Now, let's poke some holes in this.

First, the contract was awarded on February 2nd but Schachte didn't make a public statement until the end of August. That hardly qualifies as a "swift shift".

Second, they are implying that the $40 million grant is what made Schachte change his mind. The grant was given before the SwiftVets went public, a long time before their first ad. If the grant somehow pressured Schachte into changing his story then why didn't he change it months ago before the first SwitftVets press release?

Third, was the White House in any way involved with the grant? Were Democrats involved, too? The current house member from the Philadelphia area is Robert Brady, a Democrat. A lot of grants are given without any action from the White House or Congress. Why should we believe that this grant had any strings attached?

Forth, assuming that the grant was used to pressure Schachte into changing his story, how did the White House know to do this? Did one of the SwiftVets remember Schachte and tell Karl Rove to order someone else to hand out some grant money? Are we really to believe that the SwiftVets have that much influence in the government?

Fifth, if the SwiftVets have enough influence to affect a $40 million grant then why have they had so much trouble raising cash? The last I heard they only had raised around $1.5 million.

Sixth, is there anything improper about the grant or any reason to think that it would not have been given without Schachte's influence?

Seventh, was Schachte actually involved in the grant in any way? Does his name appear on any related papers? Was his time billed to the project?

Eighth, the grant was announced while Dean was still the front-runner. Was the Bush administration awarding grants

This is exactly the type of attack Michael Moore used in F911. You don't have to prove anything, you just have to show a vague connection. Given the theory of six degrees of separation in which you count everyone you know, everyone they know, and so on; by the time you get six levels out you have a relationship to everyone in the world.

In the world of retired military officers and lobbyists the number of links gets much shorter. All successful lobbyists get grants or influence legislation. That's what they do. That doesn't mean anything more.

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