Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Max Cleland, Lurch's Poster Boy

It's really great the way Kerry always trots out Max Cleland when he needs a veteran that actually bled in the service to do his dirty work. Hey, why not? As far as the Democrats and the media are concerned, the guy's a saint. Cue Reuters on 7/29:
Former Senator Max Cleland of Georgia, a frequent companion of John Kerry on the campaign trail and a fellow Vietnam War veteran who lost three limbs in combat, arrives on stage to speak and introduce Kerry at the Democratic National Convention in Boston,
and Reuters today:
Kerry is sending to Crawford former Sen. Max Cleland of Georgia, a frequent companion of Kerry's on the campaign trail and a fellow Vietnam War veteran who lost three limbs during the war.

Cleland lost his 2002 re-election bid after a bitter campaign in which Republicans questioned his patriotism. Bush did not intervene then, and Kerry spokesman Phil Singer said what happened to Cleland in 2002 is similar to "what is going on today" against Kerry.
Hey, how about Lurch himself?
John Kerry of Massachusetts took the same line on ABC's "This Week": "What they did to Max Cleland, you know, a veteran, a guy who lost three limbs in Vietnam, left them on the battlefield, and they challenge his patriotism--that sickens everybody in our country."
And Teresa to CBS:
She only recently started using Kerry's last name and was prompted more by anger than ambition to change her party affiliation.

"I was very upset at the way the party dealt with Max Cleland of Georgia," she says.

Cleland is the Democratic senator who lost re-election in a bitter campaign when Republicans attacked his patriotism. In 1968, Cleland lost his right arm and both legs in Vietnam.
The only problem is that the hagiography of St. Max has some gaping holes. Concerning losing his limbs on the battlefield, Cleland had a grenade accident while jumping out of a helicopter on the way to a beer party:
Democrats tout the Silver and Bronze Stars won by both Kerry and Cleland in Vietnam. But they prefer not to mention that, despite losing two legs and an arm to a hand grenade, Cleland was never awarded even one Purple Heart. The reason, as columnists Ann Coulter and Mark Steyn were widely attacked for pointing out, is that Cleland's horrible injuries did not happen in combat, as Kerry tries to suggest with his deceitfully-crafted phrase about Cleland leaving his limbs "on the battlefield."

This terrible accident happened not on a battlefield but on a helicopter pad 15 miles away from combat. Cleland stepped out of a helicopter to go have a beer with buddies, saw a hand grenade on the ground, assumed that he had dropped it and picked the explosive device up. It had been dropped by another, inexperienced soldier who had left the weapon on a hair trigger setting.
As far as "questioning his patriotism" goes:
While Georgia's voters were shifting from being conservative Democrats to conservative Republicans, Senator Cleland chose to be a leftwing Democrat on many issues. By 1999, the left-wing Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) rated his voting record as 100 percent on the left side of legislation.
In the 2000 election, George W. Bush won Georgia by a landslide 55-43 margin over Democrat Al Gore. It was evident that Senator Cleland, who had taken the dinosaur path to extinction by voting far to the left of his fellow Georgians, had almost zero chance of being re-elected in 2002.
Unable to justify his votes or get voter support for his positions, Cleland also blamed a Saxby Chambliss TV spot that he claimed impugned his patriotism for his defeat. The Democratic chorus endlessly repleated this claim citing the ad as an example of Republican's low campaign tactics. The infamous ad opened with brief images of the War on Terror, including a photo of Osama bin Laden. A voiceover intoned: "[Cleland] says he supports President Bush [in the war on terror] at every opportunity, but that's not the truth." The ad noted that Senator Cleland had voted 11 times to put the selfish interests of organized labor above the safety of all Americans - a reference to the Democrats' attempt to unionize airport security workers.

Cleland responded to the ad by claiming that his honor as a wounded war veteran had been impugned by a vile Republican smear that linked him to the terrorist mastermind of 9/11. "This 'how-dare-you-attack-my-patriotism' ploy, replete with feigned outrage," wrote Jim Wooten in the liberal Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "is a device to put Cleland's voting records off-limits."

Cleland's evasive claim, widely echoed by Democrats, is absurd. The ad never morphed bin Laden's face into Cleland's nor accused him of serving al-Qaeda. The ad merely connected this terrorist's image (in the same brief frame with the face of Saddam Hussein and two images of American soldiers) to the terrorist horror of 9/11 to remind voters that more than union privilege and power was at stake. To see and hear a RealPlayer version of Saxby Chambliss' ad for yourself - instead of relying on Democrat propaganda about it - click the active hyperlink in the story "The Myth of Max Cleland" you can reach by clicking here.
I guess every time you notice a Democrat is an idiot, you're questioning his patriotism.

Anyhow, since losing his Senate seat, ole St. Max seems to have become crazed in his desire for revenge despite a cushy job at the Export-Import Bank to which he has nominated by President Bush. While I suppose that could be understandable, I'm a curious about why he agreed to be the poster boy for a guy that accused American soldiers of being war criminals. Were you a war criminal, Max, or were your friends at the beer party? And why are you trying to silence veterans that don't think bogus accusations of war crimes are worthwhile credentials for a presidential candidate? As the letter to John Kerry you refused to accept from the veterans today in Crawford puts it:
"You can't have it both ways," said the letter, signed by Patterson and six other veterans including two Medal of Honor recipients and a former North Vietnamese prisoner of war. "You can't build your convention and much of your campaign around your service in Vietnam, and then try to say that only those veterans who agree with you have a right to speak up. There is no double standard for our right to free speech. We all earned it."
How much lower can you go, Max? Just wondering.