The Party of 'Patriotism and the Military' Smears the Service of Another Military Patriot

Isn't it awesome that Republican Party operatives can get away with smearing the patriotism and service records of one combat veteran after another, all the while painting themselves as the more patriotic, pro-military faction? It's the perfect illustration of how the Bush/Cheney/Rove era has fostered an atmosphere of non-reality-based deception and propaganda. Politics over all else.

This weekend, the swift-boating of John Murtha's service record began in an article which questions, amongst other things, Murtha's Purple Heart commendations. I would link to the ridiculous GOP propaganda "news" source which posted the first volley, but refuse to dignify their legitimacy. The same goes for the popular right-wing blog that dittos these claims. Suffice to say, the article fits perfectly into the template used against other combat veterans who at one time opposed the president and his policies.

And pundits dare to ask, "Why don't the congressional Democrats stand up?" The answer to this question is remarkably simple. If the patriotism and service records of Max Cleland and John Murtha are fair game, how can any non-veteran Democrats possibly stand up without suffering a far more brutal fate?

Meanwhile, the Republicans will continue to be labeled the party of patriotism, the military, and national security. For the life of me, I can't figure this one out.

They've completely bungled and botched the first large-scale war since Vietnam. They bungled, botched, and have since all but ignored the first major national disaster since 9/11. As a matter of course, they engage in covert plots to take down "unfriendlies" who have served meritoriously while very few of the GOP power players have ever served in a combat zone. They refuse to properly equip the soldiers serving in Iraq, leading to casualty figures close to -- if not beyond -- the 20,000 mark.

Furthermore, if it's not clear to you right now, it will be soon: they will scapegoat the military commanders and soldiers fighting the Iraq War just as shamelessly as they have the others. President Bush, via the calculated strategy of his Round Table, likes to say from the comfort of his bubble that he's leaving military decisions up to the commanders on the ground. Clearly and conveniently, this allows him to dodge accountability, which can easily be shifted to those soldiers. Abu Ghraib and Al-Qaqaa, for example -- both of which were blamed, not on policies of the administration, but on the soldiers on the ground.

Sure, the "all-new and all-responsible for 2006" George W. Bush will say publicly that he's responsible for the decision to go to war, but that's obviously where his responsibility ends. Everything that goes wrong and has gone wrong isn't truly his fault, of course. Even if he were to miraculously take a hit for a specific mistake, we all know from past experience that any admission by the president would be tempered and diluted with some sort of underground swift-boating of a political opponent.

Like John Murtha.

Republican operatives like to say that by criticizing the president and his policies, progressives and Democrats are denigrating the troops and undermining the war. But ask yourself, what undermines the war and the military more severely: dissecting the president, or literally dissecting combat soldiers and veterans? I would suggest that an administration which inadequately supplies soldiers currently in a war zone, and a party whose underground operatives routinely besmirch the records of combat veterans are, in fact, doing far more to damage the war effort and the military than any amount of negativity directed toward President Bush.

Every American, regardless of political affiliation, should be ashamed of what's being done to Murtha and others like him -- ordinary Republicans and military families especially, whose votes and support are being subverted by their leaders for heartless and immoral political points.

And those constituents who don't mind these kinds of tactics should be asked point-blank: is this how you prefer to debate Iraq? George W. Bush said in another staged and pre-screened town hall meeting last week that he welcomes a debate on the issues surrounding the war and his administration. But the swift-boating of John Murtha, preceded by the president's hilariously artificial town hall meeting, proves that Bush has no such intention. Instead, the party and movement of which he's the leader would rather assassinate the character of another decorated combat veteran.

The only thing more outrageous than the swift-boating of John Murtha is that "the party of patriotism, the military, and national security" continues to be taken seriously.

UPDATE. The following comment says it all:

I am a Marine currently serving at 4th Marine Aircraft Wing in New Orleans. Right now my fellow Marines and I are watching as we slowly slouch towards war with Iran. If deployed to the area, I promise you this: we will fight together, and we will fight valiantly. We will fight for those we do not know and for a cause we might not share. But we will fight. And when we come home, we may continue our fight, in the halls of power, the state capitols, and DC, if we so choose. We have earned it in blood and sweat. No one, and I mean no one, has the right to impugn our service, or our credentials without expecting a defense. I am defending Mr. Murtha because he did in Vietnam what others would not do. And I thank God for giving me the chance to make my mark as he has. And when I come home, will you be there to slander me too?