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:
“, Nowokunski told McCain he had spoken with the candidate's POW buddies and they would not say anything positive or negative about him. "They say, 'He's a politician,'" Nowokunski said. "Why do they answer me that way?"
McCain, caught off guard, said people Nowokunski mentioned were his dearest friends as well as donors who had traveled with him during the campaign. "I don't know why they would be telling you that," McCain said. "I am frankly astonished and I don't believe you."
Nowokunski said after the meeting he hadn't decided which candidate to support in the race.”
AP noted that after the exchange it was later discovered that Nowokunski had given “$500 to Thompson's testing-the-waters committee in July”.
McCain, a prisoner of war for five and a half years in, now has the distinction of being the most Swift Boated candidate in history.
By now you might be asking yourself, “What is Thompson’s military record such that a supporter would attack McCain?” The simple answer is that he doesn’t have one. Even though Thompson turned 18 years old in 1960 and was draft-able from 1962-1969 he was not drafted and did not voluntarily choose to serve. Thompson, who talks tough on defense and would probably continue the military adventurism of, is, like many Republicans, a chicken hawk. He is happy at the thought of sending other people and other people’s kids to war, but the military isn’t good enough for him or his kids.
Republicans claim they are for the troops and for veterans, but their actions in campaigns (among many other things) shows that it’s a sentiment they will sell out at any time if it suits them.