Tuesday, February 17, 2004

The sliming of Max Cleland, cont'd. As I noted on Sunday, alleged funnyman Mark Steyn has been channeling Ann Coulter in order to cast aspersions on the war record of triple amputee Max Cleland. You can't make this stuff up! I've gone back and read Coulter's original attack piece. Read the whole thing, but here is a particularly sickening highlight:

Moreover, if we're going to start delving into exactly who did what back then, maybe Max Cleland should stop allowing Democrats to portray him as a war hero who lost his limbs taking enemy fire on the battlefields of Vietnam.

Cleland lost three limbs in an accident during a routine noncombat mission where he was about to drink beer with friends. He saw a grenade on the ground and picked it up. He could have done that at Fort Dix. In fact, Cleland could have dropped a grenade on his foot as a National Guardsman - or what Cleland sneeringly calls "weekend warriors." Luckily for Cleland's political career and current pomposity about Bush, he happened to do it while in Vietnam.

My first impulse was that Coulter had probably stopped sharpening her fangs just long enough to do some homework, and that her characterization of Cleland's service was factually accurate, though repulsive. After all, accidents happen in war zones, and it scarcely matters whether Cleland was injured in combat or in training - even if he was (cover the children's eyes) preparing to drink beer!

But as Lily Tomlin once said, "No matter how cynical you get, it is impossible to keep up." Because Media Log reader G.W. has sent along a link showing that Coulter didn't even come close to getting her facts straight. Not only did she describe the accident incorrectly, she missed perhaps the most pertinent fact of Cleland's service in Vietnam.

G.W. pointed me to the Progress Report, which exposed Coulter's lies on Friday. Some highlights:

But as the 8/1/99 Esquire Magazine notes, Cleland lost two legs and an arm in Vietnam when a grenade accidentally detonated after he and another soldier jumped off a helicopter in a combat zone.


Coulter said people "should stop allowing [Cleland to be] portrayed as a war hero" - despite the fact that, in a separate incident four days before he lost three limbs, Cleland won a Silver Star - one of the highest honors for combat courage the U.S. military gives out. The congressional citation which came with the medal specifically said that during a "heavy enemy rocket and mortar attack Captain Cleland, disregarding his own safety, exposed himself to the rocket barrage as he left his covered position to administer first aid to his wounded comrades. He then assisted in moving the injured personnel to covered positions." The citation concluded, "Cleland's gallant action is in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service, and reflects great credit upon himself, his unit and the United States Army."

The right wing is in full panic mode. Look at what's happened during the past week: the phony Drudge rumor about John Kerry's having an extramarital affair (not that Media Log much cares if he did); the phony photo of Kerry and Jane Fonda standing together at an antiwar rally; the doctoring of quotes from Kerry's testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971 to make it look like he was accusing US soldiers of committing atrocities in Vietnam, when in fact he was repeating what soldiers who had actually committed such atrocities had testified to earlier.

Words fail me, except to say that this is sickening, horrifying stuff. Kerry's got to do everything he can to make sure they don't get away with it.

Have a biscuit, Sam! From today's Boston Globe:

"Mr. President, we have to keep this tax cut," said Sam Leto, board chairman for Tampa Brass and Aluminum Corp.

"Thank you, sir," Bush said. "I agree. Good job, Sam."

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