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Wednesday, September 22, 2004

The Republican War Against Vietnam Veterans

This is an excellent article by Stewart Nusbaumer, a disabled US Marines veteran of Vietnam who had suffered grave injuries in the war. He is giving his views on the recent smear campaigns unleashed by the Republican Party against his fellow veterans John McCain, Max Cleland and John Kerry.
First they assaulted a U.S. Navy pilot shot down over North Vietnam who was imprisoned and tortured for five long years. Shadowy Republican groups whispered he was mentally unfit to be President of the United States because he had been a POW in Vietnam. The rumor spread and spread. They said he had a Black baby and he was morally unfit to hold political office. The propaganda was sneaky and relentless, eventually undermining John McCain’s credibility and his bid to be the Republican Party’s presidential nominee. The winner was George W. Bush.

Then they went after a man who lost three limbs--two legs and one arm--on the bloody battlefield of South Vietnam. First in Georgia and then nationally--highlighted by Ann Coulter, a volcano of hate toward veterans--the machine proclaimed that Max Cleland made no sacrifices for America and should not be respected. The man lost three limbs in Vietnam! And Cleland lost his Senate seat to a tough Republican patriot who somehow missed the fighting in Vietnam. Those Republicans sure know how to fight a war.

Among veterans, the smearing and defeat of Max Cleland is referred to as the “Shame of George.” As for John McCain, the dirty tricks that brought him down still burn strong inside his soul. They burn on top of the torture scars from Vietnam.

In both campaigns, Republicans sought not to educate the public but to create doubt in voters, not to discuss the issues, but to undermine the character and reputation of two honorable men. Republicans twisted John McCain's and then Max Cleland's heroic service in Vietnam into a political liability here in America and rendered both men ineffective politically. Two combat veterans defeated by men who supported the Vietnam War--George Bush and Saxby Chambliss--yet hid behind deferments so they would not have to fight in the war. Two honorable American veterans defeated by a ruthless, effective Republican propaganda machine of political dirt.
Mr Nusbaumer adds a powerful perspective of a veteran. I must say, although I am familiar with the workings of a propaganda machine, and aware of how effective such a machine can be, it is difficult for me to understand how anyone can feel any different in this situation.
When anger reaches a certain level, one has two options: rage or repression. I’m teetering on a violent explosion, or possibly catatonic silence. I’m not sure, but I know that some injustices are too unjust to deal with rationally.

You see, I’m a disabled Vietnam veteran. One leg was amputated and the other has nerve damage, my spleen and a testicle were removed, and I have lots of shrapnel scars. But I’m just another Marine who made it home, minus a few parts. The war is over for me, a long time ago. Yet some Americans want to bring this war back, and to bring it back to hurt us who fought that war. It is not the longhaired hippies of yesterday or the war protestors that marched in our streets against that divisive war or the "liberal" media that are attacking us, but supposedly patriotic Americans.

And these so-called patriotic Americans say they represent the heartland of America. But do they? I don’t think so.

By trashing these three combat veterans, two Democrats and one Republican, they have trashed all combat veterans of the Vietnam War. Is this what Americans want? These men and women have insulted the 58,000 Americans who died in that horrible war and also the parents, most of whom are now in their graves, who lost a son in Vietnam.

This ugly Republican attack machine does not speak for the heartland of America; it is attacking the heart of America. Their war against Vietnam veterans is a war against America. They see what they believe is a soft spot in America, veterans of the Vietnam war, and they are attacking.
This says it all, in my humble opinion.

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