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This Is What Democracy Looks Like

Today's Note From a Madman

February 12, 2008


McCain's Call for Sympathy and Votes

Let us turn our collective attention to the presumptive Republican nominee, Senator john McCain. Today I decided to pay a visit to McCain's campaign website, and the first thing that jumps out at you, right under the "John McCain wins Chesapeake Primary" boast is a black and white picture of the candidate as a Vietnam Prisoner of War, lying in what appears to be a hospital cot. The caption next to the picture states "COURAGEOUS SERVICE - Watch the incredible story of a true American hero who is singularly prepared to lead."

You would think that this guy wouldn't want to keep our troops in Iraq for "one hundred years," and that it wouldn't "be just fine with" him. At least you would "think" so.

So I thought about that image for a minute. I thought about former Senator Max Cleland, the triple amputee who also served in the Vietnam war. Senator Cleland, the Democratic incumbent from Georgia was defeated for his re-election bid by C. Saxby Chambliss, a Republican, in one of the one-sided dirtiest campaigns in recent memory.

During his 2002 re-election bid, a television campaign ad had a picture of Cleland morphing into an image of Osama bin-laden, as if to say, "My, they look an awful lot alike, don't they folks."

In addition to the ad, the talking heads of the Right Wing had told stories that Cleland had just arrived in Vietnam, tripped and accidentally blew off his own arm and two legs with one of his own, carelessly handled hand grenades. The true story was that a careless soldier under Cleland's command had jumped off the helicopter they had just jumped off, and Cleland was blown apart by that live grenade. More to the point, while the likes of George W. Bush were shirking their duty in the non-existent Alabama Air National Guard, Cleland was earning a Silver Star and a Bronze Star for "valorous action in combat", which included the Battle of Khe Sanh just four days prior to his losing his limbs.

The human megaphones of the GOP made it appear as if this true American hero were some sort of klutz who tripped over his own feet, to go along with his "obvious" relationship to the al-Qaeda leader.

In contrast to the heroic Cleland, his opponent, then Representative and current Senator Chambliss had no military career. Much like Vice President Dick Cheney, Chambliss had "better things to do." He first took a student deferment to finish law school rather than enter the Vietnam war and then had the "misfortune" of being declared "4-F", obtaining a highly sought after medical deferment with a bad knee.

What would the GOP had stated had Cleland, a modest man with humility, something almost no one on the Red side of the aisle has, put a picture of himself on his website being taken on a stretcher to a field hospital where his forearm and two legs below the knees were taken off permanently?

Then there was another real American hero, Senator John Kerry. The barrage he took was so horrific that they even coined a new term, "Swiftboating" after it. Naval Lieutenant Kerry, a Swift Boat commander, was awarded a Silver Star, a Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts for his service in Vietnam. And even though the man whose life he saved by turning back his boat under intense enemy fire and pulling another officer from the river he was patrolling came out and state that if it weren't for Senator Kerry, I would not be here today, those same GOP noisemakers brought were able to bring together a group of Right-Wing Vietnam vets who said that his medals were fictitious and the events never happened. They even insinuated that Kerry was a hero and a traitor for speaking out against the war when he returned home after his four - yes, four - years of service there. And even though not one of the men who accused Kerry of cowardice or lying were ever on the same boat with him, or even on the same patrols with him, their words were spread around by the likes of Fox News as if it were Gospel.

One wonders just what those same mouthpieces would have said had Kerry put video of one of his injuries on his website, had that video existed.

While Kerry had decided to make his military career part of his campaign, and Cleland all but ignored his contribution during the Vietnam war when he was running for his second chance in the US Senate, McCain is using his being shot down as a Naval Pilot as one of the main reasons why he should become the next President. It's true that he was imprisoned and had to endure horrible torture at the hands of the North Vietnamese, but that doesn't qualify you as being the man who can cure the economy, a subject which, McCain admits, he has little knowledge of.

And while McCain had to endure the lies about his own personal, military and political career at the hands of the Bush-Rove Liar Brigade in 2000 (they even called him a "brainwashed" "Manchurian Candidate", told the voters of South Carolina that his wife was a drunk and that his adopted Pakistani-born child was a bastard he had with an Black prostitute), his affirmation of all of the Bush policies that aren't working today make his the very worst choice for President come this November. We owe McCain a debt of gratitude for his military service four decades ago, but not the big seat at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. And quite honestly, playing for sympathy for votes is something not worthy of a man who likes to be called "The Maverick".

-Noah Greenberg

To close out the debate on health care plan differences, Carol Yost writes:

To Robert Scardapane on healthcare: Sorry I got you wrong. I'm very glad you're for universal single-payer healthcare. To Noah Greenberg: One thing I agree with you on is your suggestion of giving people one floating holiday to get health checkups every year. I think that's an excellent idea, and would go so far as to say we should get two or three such days, since you can't do it all in one day.

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-Noah Greenberg