Sunday, February 22, 2004
Rewriting history: I don't much like columnist Ann Coulter. Sorry, I know a lot of people think she's great, but her hyperbolic rhetoric makes her little more than a conservative bomb-thrower. She is to the right what the New York Times Maureen Dowd is to the left.
Having put that extended disclaimer on the record, this column about how Democrats are attempting to turn former Georgia Sen. Max Cleland into some sort of liberal martyr by unnecessarily embroidering his war record, is an excellent article.
Cleland lost three limbs in Vietnam, but he didn't lose them to hostile fire. He reached for a grenade that he thought he had dropped -- one he didn't think was live.
The story started to change only last year when the Democrats began citing Cleland's lost Senate seat as proof that Republicans hate war heroes. Indeed, until the myth of Republicans attacking Cleland for his lack of "patriotism" became central to the Democrats' narrative against George Bush, Cleland spoke only honorably and humbly about his accident. "How did I become a war hero?" he said to the Boston Globe reporter in 1997. "Simple. The grenade went off."
Cleland even admitted that, but for his accident, he would have "probably been some frustrated history teacher, teaching American government at some junior college." (OK, I got that wrong: I said he'd probably be a pharmacist.)
Cleland's true heroism came after the war, when he went on to build a productive life for himself. That is a story of inspiration and courage. He shouldn't let the Democrats tarnish an admirable life by "sexing up" his record in order to better attack George Bush.
Coulter's point was that the accident that cost Cleland three limbs was the sort that could happen to anyone in any branch of the military anywhere -- even in the National Guard.
For the record: A couple of weeks ago Democrat presidential hopeful Sen. John Kerry equated going to jail, being a conscientious objector and fleeing to Canada with joining the National Guard.
Let's set aside for a moment the fact that National Guard troops were sent to Vietnam and died there. Let's also set aside the fact that when George W. Bush joined the Texas Air National Guard that other TANG pilots were in Vietnam.
You can say that the goal of doing all of those things (jail, objector, Canada, National Guard) was to avoid being drafted and sent to the war in Vietnam. In that way they're the same. But, of those four possibilities, joining the National Guard is the most honorable.
Kerry's equating the National Guard with fleeing to Canada as thousands of them serving in Iraq today just isn't too bright. As evidenced by the following comic from Chris Muir.