The Kerry campaign is failing to understand that what goes around comes around. When moveon.org and friends started claiming again the Bush was AWOL did Kerry intervene and say this was bad? did the democratic party complain about the bush=hitler ads? well only once they saw that the majority of the people were sickened. Even then they managed to make the same claim Bush did (nothing to do with us) when Bush started running a campaign ad saying that the democrats were comparing Bush to Hitler.
The Swift Vets are a 527 organization (as are moveon.org and a bunch of other democratic supporting groups). It is ILLEGAL under the Mccain Feingold campaign finance act for Bush to have any control over the acts of a 527. If Bush were preceived to be asking the 527 to stop running ads it could be argued by some trial lawyer that he was exercising control over the 527. So Bush comes up with some statemanlike impartial condemnation of all attack ads by third parties which is clearly less than honest but which souds good and meets the basic expectations of what we want a president to do. Kerry on the other hand sounds like a whiney little boy which is absolutely NOT what we want in a president.
BTW I find it fascinating to compare the influence of the SBVT group compared to the money raised. The graph here says it all.
John "Reporting for Duty" Kerry played up his Vietnam war record no end during the democratic primaries and then the convention. He then seems shocked when people attack it. I don't say that SBVT have got everything right but certainly Kerry's "seared in" memory of Christmas in Cambodia was a palpable falsehood and he most certainly did smear all Vietnam vets in the 1971 senate hearings. I have limited sympathy for Kerry here because he did it to himself. His entire campaign has been run around "I'm a hero and I'm not Bush" with no positive future looking message what so ever.
What Kerry lacks
Good campaigns from the opposition have a simple policy message such as "Its the economy stupid". Kerry has been neither clear nor simple in his policy. Thinking about the two successful regime changes in the UK that I have witnessed (Thatcher in 1979, Blair 1997) I can see a lot of things that Kerry lacks. Thatcher's campaign slogan was very simple "Labour isn't working" over a line of people ending up at the unemployment office door.
Blair in 1997 was a personality one. The labour party made no attempt at radical change but they wnet out comparing the fresh bubbly Tone with grey Mr Major. Oh and they touched on sleazy corrupt Tories and so on but the main thing was a personality campaign. It worked because A Blair Esq., can actually jazz people up and because he looked liek the sort of person who seemed reliable "a safe pair of hands". He inspired trust and optimism in a way that Major didn't.
Clinton's beating of Bush père in 1992 was a combination of one simple slogan and an attacking campaign built around it together with a charming personality.
The 2000 campaign was accurately described by the Economist as pitting Gush against Bore. There were no big economic or geostrategic events and both candidates had the personality of a sack of potatoes. No surprise that the result was a dead heat.
Kerry in 2004 is lacking both personality and a single campaign issue. To lack one may be regarded as a misfortune to lack both looks like carelessness to misquote Oscar Wilde. Clinton managed to sidestep accurate sleaze allegations by resolutely attacking on the economy (and by doing the trembling lower lip trick that made everyone want to pat him on the head and say "there there"). Kerry inspires absolutely no sympathy and he hasn't got a snappy message. He's got 11 weeks to find one or the other or he's going down in flames because Bush has got a campaign issue (the War on Terror), an economy thats doing OK as well as incumbent advantage.