Republicans who haven’t served in combat love to attack opponents who have. During the race for the 2000 Republican nomination, the campaign of then candidateattacked McCain’s patriotism. The exchange where McCain, a decorated hero and former Prisoner of War called out for the tactic during a debate is one of my favorite historical pieces of campaign video.
Only two years later in the 2002 Senate campaign, Democratic Senator Max Cleland’s likeness was compared toand and the campaign video by his Republican challenger, Saxby Chambliss, challenged Cleland’s patriotism and commitment to the security of the United States. Cleland, a former Army Captain, won the bronze star in for action during the famous campaign in , and later was the victim of an errant friendly grenade and he lost both legs above the knee and one of his arms.
The most famous incident of the campaign of a non-combat participant attacking that of a decorated war veteran is, of course, the 2004 attacks by the George W. Bush supporting “Swift Boat Veterans for Truthiness” oops, I mean “Truth”, who alleged that John Kerry’s multiple purple heart citations “weren’t really earned, no, they weren’t, not really”. Among the group’s more laughable allegations were that Kerry, as a young 20 something navy officer, solicited the awards to support a Presidential campaign more than 35 years later. Wikipedia has a section on the Swift Boat Veterans and this excerpt sums up the group perfectly, “Of the 3,500 Swift boat sailors who served in Vietnam, the names of some 250 appeared on the group's statement against Kerry; most did not serve at the same time or in the same place as Kerry.”
With this history, one had to know that this despicable Republican practice was going to reappear in the 2008 Presidential race, and now it has. The Associated Press reports that a donor to the campaign showed up at a John McCain town hall meeting to sandbag the Arizona senator and slander his military record. According to the Associated Press: