Joe Conason on McCain and SwiftBoating

Joe Conason gets it about how Team McCain has taken the 2008 campaign in the gutter but he really nails what happened four years ago:

By the time McCain spoke up feebly against the Swift boat campaign, the damage had been done — to him as well as to Kerry. He had undergone a public transformation into a willing instrument of lesser men who trampled on his character and his honor, even his patriotism, just as his campaign is now seeking to do to Obama.

The press gave McCain a lot of credit for saying the SwiftBoating should stop. I thought it ringed hollow for a simple reason. When Bush-Cheney let the SwiftBoating continue, a real maverick would have refused to campaign for these thugs. But what did McCain do? He campaigned for them enthusiastically. Something about actions speaking louder than words.