Jeff Emanuel

Anti-war Leftists take careful aim, shoot selves in the foot once again. It’s no secret that the Democrats and the rest of the anti-war Left are still upset over the "swiftboating" of their Presidential nominee in 2004. Heck, they’re not over the 500 votes and hanging chads in Florida yet, so it would be pretty foolish to expect them to get over a bigger loss four years later – especially when such a large part of it (in their minds) stemmed from some squeaky-wheel veterans who just wouldn’t shut up and let their Vietnam veteran candidate continue to portray himself as a military hero.

As the Iraq war (and the debate surrounding it) has raged on in the years since, the Left has been trying harder and harder to claim the moral high ground with regard to the treatment and use of US troops, both by championing the few it can find who oppose the War on Terror, and by attempting to marginalize those who dare speak out against them.

A major problem with this strategy, though, comes from the overall ignorance on the part of the anti-war, anti-military Left to nearly any aspect of military or veterans’ affairs. From championing the likes of John Murtha (D-PA) as a paragon of patriotism and as an idolized military hero, to ignoring those real heroes whose politics don’t quite line up with the Democratic party line, the Left suffers from a fundamental lack of subject matter understanding, which, combined with the employment of the usual ham-handed tactics, often cause the Left’s continuous attempts to re-frame the debate surrounding America’s national security, the War on Terror, and respect for US troops to result simply in further setbacks to their cause.

The L.A. Times recently provided an excellent example of the Leftist tendency to load up their assault rifle, take careful aim at the right, and then deposit round after round in their own foot.

Last week, Times columnist Rosa Brooks, in a fit of continued rage over the use of John Kerry’s own words and actions to sink his presidential bid (i.e., the right’s "swiftboating" of him and his candidacy), lashed out at a panel which had appeared at CPAC to discuss "The Left's Repeated Campaign Against the American Soldier." Her invective included calling panel participants "key" members of "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, the right-wing goon squad whose defamatory insinuations helped sink John Kerry's presidential campaign."

Her column, entitled "The Lunatic Right Returns," continued:

What's depressing about the reemergence of the Swifties, though, is that it's symbolic of the increasing takeover of the "conservative" movement by unprincipled, right-wing extremists.

Among these "extremists" Ms. Brooks so loathes (and lumps in as a "key discredited Swift boater") is retired Air Force Colonel George E. "Bud" Day. Who is that, you ask? Well, you might remember the name if you were alive during Vietnam, or if you pay any attention whatsoever to military history. However, if you don’t know who he is, here’s a down-and-dirty on a real American hero. According to the USAF’s Air University website, Colonel Day earned "nearly 70 decorations and awards, of which more than 50 [were] for combat" (and one was the Medal of Honor). He's logged 5,000 career flying hours, including combat duty in WWII, in Korea, and in Vietnam. After being shot down in 1967, Day suffered as a POW for 67 months (that's five and one-half years for the mathematically challenged), with a two week "respite" after escaping from the North Vietnamese, during which, despite serious injury, he evaded the enemy all the way back into South Vietnam, "earning the distinction of being the only prisoner to escape from North Vietnam" - only to be recaptured and imprisoned until March 1973.

Colonel Day embodies the true essence of the phrase "Return with Honor," which is why, in 1997, the Air Force named its newest SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape) school building after him.

As "Jason" from the weblog Iraq Now! says, “This is the man who LA Times columnist Rosa Brooks calls an ‘unprincipled, right-wing extremist’.”

But Ms. Brooks continues:

It's not hard to visualize the right-wing talking points that will emerge from this [panel]. The Swift boaters will be dusting off their 2004 scripts and reaching back still further to dredge up their Vietnam-era notes. Expect to see all the old myths revived: The antiwar left spits on returning troops and gives aid and comfort to the enemy. Oh, John Murtha, why do you hate our brave troops?

The antipathy and condescension for those troops who simply aren’t "enlightened" enough to renounce violence and become dyed-in-the-wool anti-war Liberals drips from Ms. Brooks’s words, as she forsakes facts for the sake of a good meme. The degradation of our troops as they returned home from Vietnam – a proud chapter in the history of America’s anti-war, anti-military lefties – has been treated by Democrats increasingly like a preposterous myth propagated by the chickenhawking Right of late, despite the fact that such instances of troops being assaulted, spit on, and otherwise defiled are a very real part of the historical record.

As to "brave John Murtha," whom liberals hold up as their example of Democratic military heroism, "Jason" has this to say:

Oh, and I can't say that John Murtha hates our troops. He just wants them to lose, by stripping them of needed funding in the heat of battle - funding which translates to such minor items as equipment, ammunition, reinforcements, reserves, and food.

But facts, as always, get too much in the way of a good story – and of a good expression of hatred. Therefore, Ms. Brooks simply can’t be expected to abide by them.

Though she and her employers at the Times doubtless published this column with the belief that none would question their yeomen’s work on the part of the anti-war Left, they actually accomplished just the opposite. As Jason so aptly puts it:

"In the process of disparaging a panel entitled "The Left's Repeated Campaign Against the American Soldier" [Rosa Brooks] manages to serve up – drumroll, please – an ignorant smear campaign against America's most decorated living serviceman. (emphasis added)

If the Times has an ounce of conscience, they will disavow Ms. Brooks's comments immediately, if they do not go further (as they should) and remove her from the payroll. Furthermore, Senator Kerry and Representative Murtha need to repudiate this slander of a fellow Vietnam veteran – as does every other Democrat politician who claims to care about America and her troops (and for whom Ms. Brooks attempts to speak).

The clock is ticking. We are waiting. Surely the Left will defend a veteran and a real hero (who does not share their political views) as quickly, and with as much gusto, as they have a less-distinguished one of their own in the past. Surely they will repudiate this hackish attempt to marginalize non-Liberal servicemen and to ridicule the idea that the Left would ever slander the troops, which consisted (in typical lefty fashion) of a slandering of the most highly-decorated living American serviceman.

Surely they will do the right thing in this situation.

Won't they?


Jeff Emanuel

Jeff Emanuel, a Special Operations military veteran, is a Leadership fellow with the Center for International Trade and Security at the University of Georgia, where he also studies Classics. In addition, he is a contributing editor for conservative web log RedState.com, and is a columnist for the Athens, GA Banner-Herald newspaper.

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