Ilario Pantano is a Warlord. That was the name of his U.S. Marines unit when he served during the Iraqi War. It was his second tour of duty after serving previously in the Gulf War. He had returned to civilian life during the 1990s and was working on Wall Street when the attacks of September 11th rocked his office in lower Manhattan. The first thing he did after the attacks was to go to his barber to get a military-style haircut. He knew right away that he was going back to war.
Some of you may remember Ilario Pantano from his appearance on The Daily Show with John Stewart. He was promoting his book Warlord: No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy. I will never forget the interview because I have never seen John Stewart behave in such a respectful and professional manner while interviewing someone so diametrically opposed to him politically.
And there was plenty of potential for fireworks in the interview. Pantano had been accused of murder after killing two insurgents during intense fighting near Bagdad. But Ilario Pantano was cleared of all charges in an Article 32 Hearing, which is the military equivalent of a preliminary hearing. No trial was ever convened.
Ilario Pantano also acquitted himself well in the court of public opinion. Even when dealing with tough adversaries like John Stewart he overwhelmed them with a sharp mind and an articulate tongue. When I saw his interview with Stewart I knew Ilario Pantano was congressional material.
And now the Warlord is running for Congress against Mike McIntyre – a Democrat who voted against the surge in Iraq.
It is fitting that Ilario Pantano gunned down two Iraqi insurgents on April 15th – the day we are all reminded by the IRS that our freedoms in America are in grave jeopardy. The Warlord favors either the Fair Tax or a flat tax over the present income tax system. He promises a very different kind of change than what we have seen under the current administration.Maybe that is why just last week Democrat Mike McIntyre opened their debate with a lie about the intentions of candidate Ilario Pantano. The entrenched incumbent claimed that the Warlord intends to raise taxes by 23% - an allusion to his opponent’s openness to the Fair Tax bill.
Mike McIntyre knows the Fair Tax replaces the income tax rather than adding 23% to the existing income tax. He is not ignorant. He is being willfully dishonest. Apparently, there is greater honor among Marines than among career politicians.
But Mike McIntyre’s Fair Tax dishonesty pales in comparison with the dishonesty of our local New York Times affiliate, the Wilmington Star News. The paper previously won awards for its coverage of the Pantano Article 32 Hearing. That coverage was instrumental in conveying to the public that the principal accuser against Pantano was a disgruntled Sergeant whom Pantano had demoted. That Sergeant’s testimony was so riddled with inconsistency that he was yanked from the stand and read his Miranda warnings in the midst of the proceedings.
But, now, after one of its reporters has collected an award for his coverage of the Pantano hearing, the New York Times affiliate has turned on the war hero. He threatens to unseat their Democratic candidate. So the paper is now printing numerous Letters to the Editor, which accuse Pantano of a lack of judgment for shooting two “unarmed” men – who, incidentally, ignored his warnings in both English and Arabic.
These letters do indeed show a dark and disturbing side of the liberal mindset. When a civilian is accused of murder he is innocent until proven guilty. When a Marine is accused of murder he remains guilty after proven innocent.
But war heroes like Ilario Pantano should not be discouraged. It isn’t anything personal. The people who read our local New York Times affiliate don’t hate Ilario Pantano. They just hate America.
In the end, this will all play out nicely for the decorated Warlord. People will only remember that he killed two Iraqi insurgents. Most people don’t think that disqualifies someone from serving in Congress. Most of us wish it were a requirement.
Author’s Note: Please take the time to log on to www.PantanoForCongress.com