by John Hawkins | February 19, 2004 8:59 pm
Last week, Ann Coulter wrote an excellent column which revealed that Max Cleland did not lose his limbs in combat. Instead, Cleland’s injuries were sustained in a non-combat situation when he picked up a grenade while he was on his way to drink beer with friends.
Well, after that, left-wingers lined up around the block to rip Coulter and call her a liar. TBogg called her a “Lying B*tch“. Arthur Silber compared her column to “the usual lies about Kerry” and said, “this is beneath contempt, and beyond forgiveness”. Crooked Timber excoriates Mark Steyn for even daring to use her as a source on this issue. Tim Dunlop over at “The Road To Surfdom” also mocked the idea of Steyn using Coulter as a source. In her latest column, Coulter also notes that, “Molly Ivins called my column “error-ridden,” and Al Hunt called it a “lie.” Joe Klein said I was the reason liberals were being hysterical about George Bush’s National Guard service.”
Just one problem though — Coulter’s column was as per usual, dead-on accurate and she had the quotes to prove it…
“(Cleland) told the pilot he was going to stay awhile. Maybe have a few beers with friends. … Then Cleland looked down and saw a grenade. Where’d that come from? He walked toward it, bent down, and crossed the line between before and after.” (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Dec. 5, 1999)
“[Cleland] didn’t step on a land mine. He wasn’t wounded in a firefight. He couldn’t blame the Viet Cong or friendly fire. The Silver Star and Bronze Star medals he received only embarrassed him. He was no hero. He blew himself up.” (Baltimore Sun, Oct. 24, 1999)
“Cleland was no war hero, but his sacrifice was great. … Democratic Senate candidate Max Cleland is a victim of war, not a casualty of combat. He lost three limbs on a long-forgotten hill near Khe Sanh because of some American’s mistake …” (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Sept. 29, 1996)”
It’s also worth noting that while Cleland earned a silver star, according to Cleland himself, he didn’t deserve it. After being clued in by an email from Mark Steyn to a Crooked Timber reader, I managed to find the following…
“(In) Mr. Cleland’s autobiography, Strong at the Broken Places (1986 edition), in which he writes on Page 87 regarding his having been awarded the Soldier’s Medal “for allegedly shielding my men from the grenade blast and the Silver Star for allegedly coming to the aid of wounded troops…”
“There were no heroics on which to base the Soldier’s Medal. And it had been my men who took care of the wounded during the rocket attack, not me. Some compassionate military men had obviously recommended me for the Silver Star, but I didn’t deserve it.”
And later, on Page 89: “I was not entitled to the Purple Heart either, since I was not wounded by enemy action.”
Now, I don’t bring all this up to denigrate Max Cleland. To the contrary, I have a lot of respect for anyone who serves in our military. Above and beyond that, Cleland deserves credit for volunteering to go to Vietnam and for his injuries in service to our country.
However, there are two points worth making here.
One, Coulter was right in her original column when she said, “There is more than a whiff of dishonesty in how Cleland is presented to the American people”. The reason the Democrats have been keeping Cleland front and center in the Kerry campaign, are using him as the point man to attack Bush on the bogus AWOL charges, and keep lying about Cleland’s patriotism being challenged, is because most Americans incorrectly have the impression that Cleland sustained his injuries in combat. If the average person on the street knew what actually happened to Cleland, the Dems wouldn’t be trying to use him as the face of the party on military issues. People on the left will hate to admit that because it makes them sound cynical & dishonest, but deep in their bleeding hearts they know it’s the truth.
Secondly, there are a lot of people on the left who should publicly set the record straight and admit that they were wrong about this issue and Ann Coulter was right. However, I’d advise you not to hold your breath waiting for them to do the right thing…
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