Remember James Webb?

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Mariner, Jan 18, 2006.

  1. Mariner
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    Mariner Active Member

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    A Republican who served President Reagan, he has some thoughts about the Bush/Rove treatment of Democratic veterans in an Op-Ed piece today:

    "January 18, 2006
    Op-Ed Contributor
    Purple Heartbreakers

    By JAMES WEBB
    Arlington, Va.

    IT should come as no surprise that an arch-conservative Web site is questioning whether Representative John Murtha, the Pennsylvania Democrat who has been critical of the war in Iraq, deserved the combat awards he received in Vietnam.

    After all, in recent years extremist Republican operatives have inverted a longstanding principle: that our combat veterans be accorded a place of honor in political circles. This trend began with the ugly insinuations leveled at Senator John McCain during the 2000 Republican primaries and continued with the slurs against Senators Max Cleland and John Kerry, and now Mr. Murtha.

    Military people past and present have good reason to wonder if the current administration truly values their service beyond its immediate effect on its battlefield of choice. The casting of suspicion and doubt about the actions of veterans who have run against President Bush or opposed his policies has been a constant theme of his career. This pattern of denigrating the service of those with whom they disagree risks cheapening the public's appreciation of what it means to serve, and in the long term may hurt the Republicans themselves.

    Not unlike the Clinton "triangulation" strategy, the approach has been to attack an opponent's greatest perceived strength in order to diminish his overall credibility. To no one's surprise, surrogates carry out the attacks, leaving President Bush and other Republican leaders to benefit from the results while publicly distancing themselves from the actual remarks.

    During the 2000 primary season, John McCain's life-defining experiences as a prisoner of war in Vietnam were diminished through whispers that he was too scarred by those years to handle the emotional burdens of the presidency. The wide admiration that Senator Max Cleland gained from building a career despite losing three limbs in Vietnam brought on the smug non sequitur from critics that he had been injured in an accident and not by enemy fire. John Kerry's voluntary combat duty was systematically diminished by the well-financed Swift Boat Veterans for Truth in a highly successful effort to insulate a president who avoided having to go to war.

    And now comes Jack Murtha. The administration tried a number of times to derail the congressman's criticism of the Iraq war, including a largely ineffective effort to get senior military officials to publicly rebuke him (Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, was the only one to do the administration's bidding there).

    Now the Cybercast News Service, a supposedly independent organization with deep ties to the Republican Party, has dusted off the Swift Boat Veterans playbook, questioning whether Mr. Murtha deserved his two Purple Hearts. The article also implied that Mr. Murtha did not deserve the Bronze Star he received, and that the combat-distinguishing "V" on it was questionable. It then called on Mr. Murtha to open up his military records.

    Cybercast News Service is run by David Thibault, who formerly worked as the senior producer for "Rising Tide," the televised weekly news magazine produced by the Republican National Committee. One of the authors of the Murtha article was Marc Morano, a long-time writer and producer for Rush Limbaugh.

    The accusations against Mr. Murtha were very old news, principally coming from defeated political rivals. Aligned against their charges are an official letter from Marine Corps Headquarters written nearly 40 years ago affirming Mr. Murtha's eligibility for his Purple Hearts - "you are entitled to the Purple Heart and a Gold Star in lieu of a second Purple Heart for wounds received in action" - and the strict tradition of the Marine Corps regarding awards. While in other services lower-level commanders have frequently had authority to issue prestigious awards, in the Marines Mr. Murtha's Vietnam Bronze Star would have required the approval of four different awards boards.

    The Bush administration's failure to support those who have served goes beyond the smearing of these political opponents. One of the most regrettable examples comes, oddly enough, from modern-day Vietnam. The government-run War Remnants Museum, a popular tourist site in downtown Ho Chi Minh City, includes an extensive section on "American atrocities." The largest display is devoted to Bob Kerrey, a former United States senator and governor of Nebraska, recipient of the Medal of Honor and member of the 9/11 commission.

    In the display, Mr. Kerrey is flatly labeled a war criminal by the Vietnamese government, and the accompanying text gives a thoroughly propagandized version of an incident that resulted in civilian deaths during his time in Vietnam. This display has been up for more than two years. One finds it hard to imagine another example in which a foreign government has been allowed to so characterize the service of a distinguished American with no hint of a diplomatic protest.

    The political tactic of playing up the soldiers on the battlefield while tearing down the reputations of veterans who oppose them could eventually cost the Republicans dearly. It may be one reason that a preponderance of the Iraq war veterans who thus far have decided to run for office are doing so as Democrats.

    A young American now serving in Iraq might rightly wonder whether his or her service will be deliberately misconstrued 20 years from now, in the next rendition of politically motivated spinmeisters who never had the courage to step forward and put their own lives on the line.

    Rudyard Kipling summed up this syndrome quite neatly more than a century ago, writing about the frequent hypocrisy directed at the British soldiers of his day:

    An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;

    An' Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool - you bet that Tommy sees!

    James Webb, a secretary of the Navy in the Reagan administration, was a Marine platoon and company commander in Vietnam."

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/18/opinion/18webb.html?th=&emc=th&pagewanted=print
     
  2. Hobbit
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    Hobbit Senior Member

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    While I agree that people's war records shouldn't be called into question without some pretty big evidence, I think too many people are equating questioning one's politics and questioning one's war record. When you're a politician, expect to be questioned, even insulted, over your political views, but to equate that to mocking one's war record is idiotic.

    Yes, some crazies have been questioning the military records of McCain and Murtha, most people just attack their politics. And with how central John Kerry made his war record to his campaign, it should come as no surprise that those who thought he got a free ride, then turned his back on the troops, would come out and question his record.
     
  3. Abbey Normal
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    Abbey Normal Senior Member

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    This is a flagrant example of a writer taking an illogical leap the size of Texas, in order to make a spurious argument agianst President Bush. There is not a single thing mentioned in this article that comes from the Bush administration, or even from a Republican congressman or woman. He cites web sites and news services, and then tries to trick the reader into connecting imaginary dots to the President, when he jumps right to this sentence after citing examples that had nothing to do with the Bush administration:

    :wtf: No connection made, but I guess the author thinks that if he says it, the reader will believe it.

    As for Bush's record on attacking someone's military service, even after being attacked via Rathergate (an anti "military service" fiasco which the author conveniently fails to mention, btw), President Bush took the high road and declined to comment on the Swift boat accusations against Kerry.

    Oh, and President Bush is even responsible for a display in Ho Chi Minh City. Just when I thought I had seen him blamed for everything by now, here comes a fine new addition to the Democrat Theater of the Absurd.

    I'm not buying the bs this guy is peddling.
     
  4. Jimmyeatworld
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    Jimmyeatworld Silver Member

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    I'll add to Hobbit's post that Murtha was known to have made comments in the past suggesting that his Purple Hearts were not earned. He was a nobody, so he was ignored.

    Now that he has put himself in the spotlight and, to a lesser degree than Kerry, riden his "I was there and I was wounded" bit, people decided to take a closer look. I would also say he does himself no good by by dishonoring the troops today. I don't care where he's been or how many medals he has, his embracing of that Codepink group (or whatever the hell they call themselves) is disgusting.
     
  5. Superfluous Man
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    Superfluous Man Rookie

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    Regarding John Kerry: My father served 33 years in the USAF, a combat pilot in three wars. I served 1965 to 1968, USARPAC. I have a long and intimate knowledge of and "feel" for the military service. The Swift Boat Veterans' rendition of Kerry's Vietnam service had an unmistakable ring of truth. All Kerry had to do - besides all his grandstanding and bragging - was to release his military records. He has not done so. Considering the controversy, that is most telling.

    Has Murtha agreed to release his records?
     
  6. Mariner
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    Mariner Active Member

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    Bush/Rove's treatment of Max Cleland and John McCain was widely reported at the time. Their treatment of Cleland has often been considered the lowest blow in modern dirty politics. How can you say there's no connection between Bush and smearing someone's military record?

    In the Kerry case, I agree. I thought Kerry was an idiot to bring up his military record, not because it was bad, but because he didn't understand the power of narrative. Bush's narrative was that he was an alcoholic who found God and made a new life. This was a believable and uplifting story. Given that, it didn't make sense to question ANY of Bush's past behavior, such as avoiding serving in combat during Viet Nam. Essentially, anything that proved Bush was "bad" back then simply reinforced his own narrative, showing how "good" he was now.

    It was beyond me why Democratic strategists couldn't see this at the time.

    In any case, do keep in mind that the writer is a solid Republican. He wouldn't stick his neck out like this if he didn't feel very strongly about what he was writing--similar to Brent Scowcroft a few weeks ago, critiquing Bush/Cheney in the New Yorker. These are senior, serious people who feel their own party is being taken in the wrong direction.

    Mariner.
     
  7. Stephanie
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    Stephanie Diamond Member Supporting Member

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    Mariner you know what your saying about Bush and Rove is a bunch of..... I never once herad either of those men say a word about those men. Now if someone else did, and maybe they did and maybe they we're rebuplican. But that dosen't mean that Bush/Rove SAID IT. But this double standard that the libs have. Who attacted Bush's military record? All the democrats did, just like you do above in your post but thats ok with you. pfffffsh
     
  8. Mariner
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    Mariner Active Member

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    themselves never directly smeared their opponents. Instead they use techniques that leave their hands clean, such as anonymous push polls ("Would you be less likely to support the Democratic opponent if you knew most of her staff were lesbians?"--that's a paraphrase, as best I can remember it, from Bush's fight against Ann Richards) or even fake ads supposedly from the opponent's party.

    Here's one report on an ad used against Cleland. If I have a little more time later, I'll dig up some more.

    Republican Smear Ad Misrepresents Cleland
    Posted by: doclalor on Tuesday, April 27, 2004 - 12:05 PM
    Ad uses Saddam, bin Laden to question Cleland's record

    Oct. 11, 2002 | Associated Press

    by JEFFREY McMURRAY

    WASHINGTON - Sen. Max Cleland is angrily defending himself against a rival's television ad that shows pictures of Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden and implies the Democratic incumbent is soft on homeland security.

    The ad, sponsored by Republican Rep. Saxby Chambliss' Senate campaign, doesn't directly compare Cleland and the rogue leaders but alleges the senator isn't telling the truth when he claims to support some of President Bush's efforts in the war against terrorism. It began airing Friday in the Atlanta market.

    The ad's primary focus is Cleland's position on legislation creating a homeland security department Bush is seeking. Although Cleland supports one version of that bill, he says he won't support the president's preference without an amendment guaranteeing labor rights for federal workers.

    "To put my picture up there with Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden and insinuate I'm not fighting hard enough for national security, I just find that this is an incredible low in Georgia politics," Cleland said.

    The ad claims Cleland voted against Bush's preferred department 11 times, most in procedural votes as the legislation moved through the committee process. In a statement from his campaign, Chambliss said he appreciates the war record of Cleland - who lost both legs and an arm in a Vietnam grenade blast - but urged him to follow the president's lead on homeland security.

    "Georgians deserve to know - all Americans deserve to know - why Max Cleland is more concerned with protecting federal bureaucracy, rules and regulations than creating a department that can respond effectively to future threats of terrorism," Chambliss said.

    http://thereitis.org/displayarticle156.html
     
  9. Abbey Normal
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    Abbey Normal Senior Member

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    Mariner,
    Not to put too fine a point on it, but...

    First you said this:


    And then you said this:


    Both statements can't be true, and that is the problem with the article.


    And This:
    "The ad, sponsored by Republican Rep. Saxby Chambliss' Senate campaign..."

    does not equal This:
    "Bush/Rove's treatment of Max Cleland..."


    This is what I was saying the writer was doing. Trying to paint President Bush as a low, unscrupulous man, without the evidence to back it up. Dan Rather tried the same thing and failed. In fact, it blew up in his face and cost him his anchorman career.

    I am not saying that Bush never said anything bad about Cleland's or anyone else's military record, as I do not know every sentence he ever uttered. I do know that the article, and your defense of it, are not making the case.
     
  10. Mariner
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    Mariner Active Member

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    both statements can be true, if you think of an entire Republican National Committee machine generating ads and being guided by Bush and Rove. The Swifties, for example, were closely linked to Bush contributors/friends in Texas. Bush didn't have to say anything. The Swifties said it for him. The ads in the Cleland case weren't generated by the Republican candidate in isolation; they were created by the RNC, just as many ads in support of Democratic candidates are created and funded by the DNC. It's perfectly fair to blame the leaders and main consultants (i.e. Bush and Rove) for the work of their minions, since they could easily have stopped any particular ad from going out, had they chosen. All this stuff was part of the Lee Atwater playbook. I can't believe anyone here would be uncynical enough to think it implausible. Obviously James Webb himself isn't--he knows the truth, and has every reason to, as a total Republican party insider. So instead of attacking me... face the truth as expounded by Webb--Bush and Rove are implicated in some of the dirtiest campaigning in modern history.

    Mariner.
     

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