Swift-Boating Law and Legal Definition

If politicians on the left of the US political spectrum believe they are being unfairly attacked or smeared, they will often refer to the attacks as "swift-boating."

The term 'swift boat' itself refers to a class of US Navy vessel used during the Vietnam War. In 2004, a political 527 organization called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (later called Swift Vets and POWs for Truth or SVPT), composed of Vietnam veterans who served on swift boats, formed with the intent of opposing the presidential candidacy of John Kerry. Kerry himself had served for four months as a swift boat commander in Vietnam. The group produced a series of television ads and a bestselling book that challenged Kerry's military record and criticized his subsequent antiwar activities as a member of Vietnam Veterans Against the War. The unsubstantiated charges against Kerry by the SVPT gave rise to the term 'swiftboating' to describe political tactics that are essentially synonymous with a 'smear campaign.'