Joel Mowbray

When Daniel Dow returned home Thursday evening, he noticed he had a voice mail message.  To his great surprise, it was left by his Congressman, Pete Stark (D-CA), in response to a fax he had sent in an hour earlier.

But to Dow?s even greater surprise, the message was a smarmy smear, one in which Congressman Stark essentially called him stupid and implied that the enlisted man, who had just returned from Kosovo, did not care about enlisted men and women.

And now compounding the Congressman?s callousness, he has released an ?apology? distinctly lacking anything resembling an apology.

Here?s a brief recap of the events:

- Thursday evening, the House voted on one of its typical resolutions supporting the troops in Iraq, but also condemning the prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib and calling for a full investigation.

- 16-term San Francisco liberal Pete ?Fortney? Stark was one of 50 Congressmen to oppose the non-controversial resolution.

- Daniel Dow wrote an intelligent, though strongly worded letter expressing his outrage and faxed it to Rep. Stark?s office at 4:30pm PST.

- Dow stepped out for some errands, and upon returning home, he listened to his voice mail.

Thankfully, Dow thought on his feet and provided the recording to San Francisco-based talk radio station KSFO.  (Listen here.)  The story caught fire, and by midday Friday, even Rush Limbaugh was talking about it.

Listening to the choice language Stark used, it?s easy to see why.  He started out his 53-second message telling Dow, ?You don?t know what you?re talking about.?  Stark then informs the enlisted man, ?So if you care about enlisted people, you wouldn?t have voted for that thing, either.?

Perhaps such ?stark? language might be acceptable responding to a blowhard or an ad hominem attack, but then again, no Congressman would ever waste his time calling such a constituent.  (As a practical matter, calls from Congressmen are extremely rare, and Stark is Exhibit A as to why.)

But Dow?s letter, though unequivocal in its criticism, was eloquent, passionate, and intelligent.  It might have savaged Stark?s nutty ?no? vote on the resolution, but there was not a single personal attack. 

If only the Congressman could say the same.

Joel Mowbray

Joel Mowbray, who got his start with, is an award-winning investigative journalist, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security.

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