Friday, November 28, 2008

Brave men and heroes.

With the Senate runoff election in Georgia, the issue of Max Cleland has came back up. Cleland, in case some of you may not remember, lost three limbs in an accident in Vietnam. He won a Senate seat but lost it in a bitter election. Both sides slung mud but Cleland lost, probably as much over his leftie voting record as anything else. Of course Kerry, with his damnable comments about American service men in Vietnam, did much to negate any sympathy vote Cleland may have won otherwise.

In one of the forums I occasionally opine in another member quoted Ann Coulter writing about Cleland and the Democrats. I didn’t believe, and so noted.

“Fred, the Coulter quote looks like one of those made up quotes that float around the Internet supposedly written by Jay Leno, Maureen Dowd, etc. And if she wrote it, it exists some place on the Internet. Quotes claiming to come from Newsweek do not impress me.

But that is beside the point.

Those who claim there was no bravery in the incident in which he lost his limbs are like those on the Left who claimed that there was no bravery in McCain getting shot down, or those on the Right re Kerry serving on a Patrol Boat or the Lefties denigrating Bush going through flight training and flying a F102.

The bravery is in the act of going in harm's way.

All four acted bravely, as millions of others have done. The soldier who died in Vietnam is dead. The ANG pilot who crashed is dead. The Navy seaman who was killed on his ship when a missile misfired is dead. All died serving the country. Millions of others were injured. All were brave.”

But the quote had been more or less accurate and a link to her article was promptly provided. If I ever want to find the missing Dead Sea Scrolls I will start a thread about them and then deny they exist. An intrepid blogger will show up at my front door with them in a matter of minutes. But I digress.

Coulter wrote:

“Former Sen. Max Cleland is the Democrats' designated hysteric about George Bush's National Guard service. A triple amputee and Vietnam veteran, Cleland is making the rounds on talk TV, basking in the affection of liberals who have suddenly become jock-sniffers for war veterans and working himself into a lather about President Bush's military service….

….On "Hardball" Monday night, Cleland demanded to see Bush's pay stubs for the disputed period of time, May 1972 to May 1973. "If he was getting paid for his weekend warrior work," Cleland said, "he should have some pay stubs to show it."

The next day, the White House produced the pay stubs. This confirmed what has been confirmed 1 million times before: After taking the summer off, Bush reported for duty nine times between Nov. 29, 1972, and May 24, 1973 — more than enough times to fulfill his Guard duties. (And nine times more than Bill Clinton, Barney Frank or Chuck Schumer did during the same period.)

….Moreover, if we're going to start delving into exactly who did what back then, maybe Max Cleland should stop allowing Democrats to portray him as a war hero who lost his limbs taking enemy fire on the battlefields of Vietnam.

Cleland lost three limbs in an accident during a routine noncombat mission where he was about to drink beer with friends. He saw a grenade on the ground and picked it up. He could have done that at Fort Dix. In fact, Cleland could have dropped a grenade on his foot as a National Guardsman — or what Cleland sneeringly calls "weekend warriors." Luckily for Cleland's political career and current pomposity about Bush, he happened to do it while in Vietnam.

There is more than a whiff of dishonesty in how Cleland is presented to the American people. Terry McAuliffe goes around saying, "Max Cleland, a triple amputee who left three limbs on the battlefield of Vietnam," was thrown out of office because Republicans "had the audacity to call Max Cleland unpatriotic." Mr. Cleland, a word of advice: When a slimy weasel like Terry McAuliffe is vouching for your combat record, it's time to sound "retreat" on that subject.

Cleland wore the uniform, he was in Vietnam, and he has shown courage by going on to lead a productive life. But he didn't "give his limbs for his country," or leave them "on the battlefield." There was no bravery involved in dropping a grenade on himself with no enemy troops in sight. “


Plainly caught in denial, although agreeing that such comments were bad by anyone, I replied.

Thank you Fred:

Based on the article I say that Coulter would have been better off not writing the article and she was wrong. As much as I enjoy her quick wit and sharp tongue she has over reached herself in this column and deserves to be told, 'Shut up."

Coulter is a partisan as is Cleland and Terry McAuliffe. Both were very much involved in dishonest attacks on Bush and like many times in life she let her temper get the best of her and deservedly gets zapped for it.

But like the finger in the eye or the unseen head slap in the NFL, the gouger and slapper also deserve condemnation and should also be told "Shut Up." Better Cleland should have used his background to (correctly) point out our strategy, at that time in Iraq was remarkably similar to Vietnam... kill some terrorists and fly away... than complain that Bush was AWOL when the White House was showing TANG pay records. The Vietnam strategy was wrong. Rumsfeld's Iraq war strategy was wrong. (But the objectives of both were honorable and worthy.)

Besides the fact partisan attacks regarding the service of an individual are just wrong, I think we make the mistake of confusing "brave" with "hero."

Vietnam was not a "battlefield" and Cleland was not a "hero." Both are exaggerations. Cleland's injuries were the result of an accident. His bravery was in being there.

To be a hero a person must do something beyond being brave. You have the soldier falling on a live grenade to save friends, a Sgt York calmly taking the German machine guns out of action and capturing a large number of troops... a NY fireman going back in and up the WTC towers when he knew it could collapse any moment... the passengers of UAL flight 93 who crashed it rather than letting the terrorists fly it into a building.

Bravery is knowingly going in harm's way. Heroism is taking actions that you know will likely kill or harm you while benefiting others.

There are many brave people. There are few heroes.

We live in the age of hype and overstatement. It is time we settle down and start remember that words have meaning.