Columns » Hightower

Attack of the neo-Swift Boaters




Look out — here they come!

The risible, rooty-toot-tooters of the far-right wing have raised their partisan flag of xenophobic, supercalifragilistic Americanism in this year's presidential election.

Calling themselves Veterans for a Strong America, they're attacking President Barack Obama with a pile of political rubbish, while also foaming at the mouth with rabid Islamophobia.

The group is trying to become the 2012 version of the infamous Swift Boat Veterans for Truth that savaged John Kerry's 2004 campaign with a barrage of untruths.

Its first shot is a flashy online ad that takes some Obama quotes out of context and scrambles them to make it seem as though he's claiming credit for personally gunning down Osama bin Laden.

Joel Arends, the founder and honcho of this outfit, brags that "yes, it's the Swift Boating of the president." True to form, no less of a propagandameister than Karl Rove, considered to be the father of the Swift Boat bunch, has tried to boost Arends' credibility by calling the video "powerful."

Nice try, but the whole effort really is pathetic, a patently partisan stunt ripped right out of the political playbook of Koch-funded front groups.

Indeed, Arends is a Republican official in South Dakota and a former astroturf operative with Americans for Prosperity, created and funded by David Koch.

When not being paid to trash Obama, Arends runs around wild-eyed warning that "Islamic Jihadists are infiltrating public schools" and they're trying to impose "creeping Sharia [law] here in America."

And who's financing his political assault on Obama? He doesn't want America's voters to know.

Noting that his group is organized as a "social welfare" charity, Arends says he can legally hide his donors' names and keep you and me from following the money. So much for truth-in-politics, huh?

Jim Hightower is the best-selling author of Swim Against the Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go With the Flow, on sale now from Wiley Publishing. For more information, visit

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