Kerry made plenty of mistakes in 2004, but few were as momentous as his decision to not confront the "Swift Boat Veterans" who not only assaulted Kerry's anti-war activism but his war record. Many veterans who despised Kerry for what he said when he returned from Vietnam found it easy to believe the worst about his war record. It has been clear for some time that the charges leveled against Kerry's performance in Vietnam were unsupported by the facts. This NYT's report lays it all out very persuasively.
Kerry Pressing Swift Boat Case Long After Loss - New York Times: "Of course, plenty of disappointed and angry Democrats would like to know why Mr. Kerry did not defend himself so strenuously before the election. He had posted some military documents on his campaign's Web site and had allowed reporters to view his medical records but resisted open access to them as unnecessarily intrusive.
Mr. Kerry and his defenders say that they did not have the extensive archival material, and that it was too complicated to gather in the rapid pace of a campaign. He was caught off guard, he says; he had been prepared to defend his antiwar activism, but he did not believe that anyone would challenge the facts behind his military awards. 'We should have put more money behind it,' Mr. Kerry says now. 'I take responsibility for it; it was my mistake. They spent something like $30 million, and we didn't. That's just a terrible imbalance when somebody's lying about you.'"