HONOR GOES A.W.O.L. On Wednesday, August 25, Max Cleland the former Georgia senator and combat veteran who left three limbs in Vietnam, made a little pilgrimage to Crawford, TX where President Bush, a known vacation enthusiast, was putting up his blood-stained boots. Cleland, serving presidential hopeful John Kerry, played the role of messenger in a transparent, but no less effective bit of grand guignol. He carried a letter signed by nine U.S. Senators, urging the President to denounce advertisements by a moneyed, tenacious, and pathologically dishonest anti-Kerry group called the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. Of course Bush, whose own dubious military record precludes any official attack on Kerry’s well-documented heroics, and who certainly can’t win the election on bread and butter issues, can’t take the high road. The Swiftboat ads, deceitful and disgraceful as they are, have hit their mark. The Kerry campaign is being rammed head on by the Swift Boat lies, and the Democratic boat is taking on water. So instead of inviting the one-armed, no-legged former Senator, and certifiable patriot in for a glass of lemonade and a slice of Laura’s pie (Not to mention one helluva good photo-op) Bush snubbed Cleland, sending in his place Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson. Got that? Patterson, one of the President’s old political allies has also received over $150,000 in campaign contributions from the Swiftboat Vets’ chief funder Bob Perry. Fancy that. The ethically conflicted Patterson met Cleland outside Bush’s ranch, and made the former Senator an offer: He would deliver Cleland’s the letter unto the great and powerful Bush only if Cleland would accept and deliver a letter addressed to John Kerry. Cleland refused the deal claiming he’d rather use the mail. Here’s Patterson’s openly partisan letter.
“August 25, 2004 Senator John Kerry 304 Russell Senate Office Building Washington, DC 20510 Dear Senator Kerry, We are pleased to welcome your campaign representatives to Texas today. We honor all our veterans, all whom have worn the uniform and served our country. We also honor the military and National Guard troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan today. We are very proud of all of them and believe they deserve our full support. That’s why so many veterans are troubled by your vote AGAINST funding for our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, after you voted FOR sending them into battle. And that’s why we are so concerned about the comments you made AFTER you came home from Vietnam. You accused your fellow veterans of terrible atrocities -- and, to this day, you have never apologized. Even last night, you claimed to be proud of your post-war condemnation of our actions. We’re proud of our service in Vietnam. We served honorably in Vietnam and we were deeply hurt and offended by your comments when you came home. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t build your convention and much of your campaign around your service in Vietnam, and then try to say that only those veterans who agree with you have a right to speak up. There is no double standard for our right to free speech. We all earned it. You said in 1992 “we do not need to divide America over who served and how.” Yet you and your surrogates continue to criticize President Bush for his service as a fighter pilot in the National Guard. We are veterans too -- and proud to support President Bush. He’s been a strong leader, with a record of outstanding support for our veterans and for our troops in combat. He’s made sure that our troops in combat have the equipment and support they need to accomplish their mission. He has increased the VA health care budget more than 40% since 2001 -- in fact, during his four years in office, President Bush has increased veterans funding twice as much as the previous administration did in eight years ($22 billion over 4 years compared to $10 billion over 8.) And he’s praised the service of all who served our country, including your service in Vietnam. We urge you to condemn the double standard that you and your campaign have enforced regarding a veteran’s right to openly express their feelings about your activities on return from Vietnam. Sincerely, Texas State Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson Rep. Duke Cunningham Rep. Duncan Hunter Rep. Sam Johnson Lt. General David Palmer Robert O'Malley, Medal of Honor Recipient James Fleming, Medal of Honor Recipient Lieutenant Colonel Richard Castle (Ret.)
The shorter Patterson & Co: “Payback’s a bitch, ain’t it Big John? We, the undersigned support the Swift Boat Vets first amendment right to lie for President Bush because he is the great giver of good-sounding things.” And it gets worse. According to Hoyle a pair of Medal of Honor recipiants beats three lost limbs every time. On the same day that Bush snubs insults Max Cleland, Ben Ginsberg, chief council for Bush Ô04 resigns. Why? Because he’s also council for the Swiftboat Veterans, that’s why. From Reuters:
Federal election rules bar organizations that take unrestricted donations from coordinating their activities with campaigns or political parties. "I was at the nexus of making sure (coordination) didn't happen. To suggest otherwise is flat wrong," Ginsberg said.
WTF? Because Ginsberg was an official member of both the Bush team, and the Swiftboat vets he was the “nexus” insuring there were no official connections between the Bush campaign, and the Swift Boat Vets? Why am I reminded of the classic conundrum, “I am a Cretin, and all Cretins are liars.” From Ben Ginsberg’s Letter of resignation from Bush ‘04::
"I have decided to resign as national counsel to [the Bush] campaign to ensure that the giving of legal advice to decorated military veterans [the Swift Boat Vets], which was entirely within the boundaries of the law, doesn't distract from the real issues upon which you and the country should be focusing."
In other words, Big Ben didn’t want his perfectly legal but highly unethical work for a group of known liars whose primary mission is to distract voters from the real campaign issues to, you know, distract voters from the real campaign issues. Amazing. While all the high drama raged President Bush, a coward of some magnitude, remained at the ranch, happy to have a group of professional character assassins shooting Kerry in the back. Since he can’t win with honor he’s fully prepared to lose in the gutter. The folks behind the anti-Kerry ads are the same wingnuts who challenged the patriotism of Max Cleland, and even Republican Senator John McCain who was Bush’s strongest challenger in the 2000 primaries. Their lies are blatant, their credibility easily debunked. But, according to Patterson, who was certainly acting on the President’s behalf, the first amendment punishes the truth by protecting America’s liars. Well, at least it’s an interesting theory. Of course Bush has, without specific mention of the Swift Boat Vets, condemned all, “soft money” political advertising. He told the press he thought he’d gotten rid of “all that” when he signed the McCain-Feingold act. Well thank goodness our President is an incurious, alliterate boob who doesn’t understand the bills he signs into law.. Eliminating all political advertising not generated for and financed by political campaigns would be a devastating blow to the convenient amendment Bush is currently hiding behind. Let’s all have a moment of Reganesque silence for the tough-guy Cowboy image President Bush once enjoyed. These days he’s more than happy to engage in the kinds of lowdown, yellow-bellied, sissy-knickered antics that make John Wayne puke in his hawkish, certifiably Republican grave. After all, a dishonest man who can’t look his critics in the eye, isn’t much of a man, now is he?

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