On Friday, freshman Republican Rep. "Mean Jean" Schmidt mounted one of the fiercest, most personal assaults Congress has witnessed since Preston Brooks caned Charles Sumner to a bloody pulp in 1856. The target of Schmidt's attack was Rep. John Murtha, a Vietnam vet who had just introduced a resolution calling for a withdrawal of US troops from Iraq within 6 months (which included several measures designed to ensure regional stability upon pullout).
"A few minutes ago I received a call from Colonel Danny Bubp, Ohio Representative from the 88th district in the House of Representatives. He asked me to send Congress a message: Stay the course," Schmidt declared from her lectern. "He also asked me to send Congressman Murtha a message, that cowards cut and run, Marines never do."
By employing Bubp, a Marine reservist, as her surrogate attack dog, Schmidt sought to give the impression that the military rank-and-file overwhelmingly deplored Murtha's resolution. Murtha may have been a Marine a long, long time ago, but he doesn't understand the harsh realities of the post-9/11 world. But that tough-talking paragon of the modern warrior, Colonel Danny Bubp, whoever he is, sure as hell does. Or so Schmidt would have us believe.
A quick glance at Bubp's background reveals him to be a low-level right-wing operative who has spent more time in the past ten years engaged in symbolic Christian right crusades than he has battling terrorist evil-doers. And throughout his career, Bubp's destiny has been inextricably linked with Schmidt's. Bubp may be a Marine, but his view of Murtha as a "coward" is colored by naked political ambition. He is nothing more than cheap camouflage cover for the GOP's latest Swift-Boat campaign.
March 1999 marked the beginning of a brilliant career. It was then that Bubp became pro-bono legal counsel for Adams County for the Ten Commandments, an ad-hoc Ohio group formed to keep 10 Commandments monuments displayed in local public schools after the ACLU filed a lawsuit demanding their removal. Bubp was assisted by a Who's Who of Christian right leaders, including James Dobson, Don Wildmon, Judge Roy Moore and Jay Sekulow. The campaign was organized primarily by Rev. Rob Schenck, a former leader of the militant anti-abortion group Operation Rescue, who was once detained for threating Bill Clinton's afterlife at the National Cathedral. (Read my profile of Schenck for the Washington Monthly for the full story on this, and many more bizarre stunts).
When the monuments' removal seemed imminent by 2003, Bubp nevertheless declared, "We've already won." Thanks to Schenck, he was able to help distribute 600 yard signs reading "We Stand For The Ten Commandments" throughout Adams County. And the devoted network of activists formed during the 8-year-long struggle would toil on his behalf when he ran for the Ohio legislature in 2004.
Bubp was elected despite a successful legal maneuver by his former primary challenger to unseal his divorce file. Bubp fought tooth-and-nail to keep these records in the dark because, according to the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, "the file does contain sensitive tax and personal information he'd just as soon keep private." Whatever information emerged was overlooked by a local press focused on national races.
During the campaign, Bubp still found time to help his friend, Schmidt, who was struggling to counter the momentum of her Democratic challenger, Iraq war veteran Paul Hackett. At a Schmidt rally falsely billed as an event to honor war veterans, Bubp appeared in full Marine battle dress uniform to attack Hackett for criticizing his "Commander in Chief." " "I served for eight years under a president who loathed the military," Bubp said, referring to Clinton. "But we never said a word about it."
Now in the Ohio legislature, and back in his usual three-piece suit, Bubp has teamed up once again with Schmidt, this time to save the Pledge of Allegiance from "liberal activist judges." Bubp is the author of the Pledge Protection Act, which would ensure that public schoolchildren include the phrase "under God" in their daily recitation of the pledge, no matter what the comsymp one-worlders at the ACLU do. This month, at Bubp's behest, Schmidt introduced the bill in Congress.
"I am firmly convinced that our forefathers would believe it evil for anyone to try to strike the name of God from all things public," Bubp declared in an editorial promoting the bill. Not only does Bubp understand the psychology of cowards, he has special insight into the religious beliefs of "our forefathers."
Bubp and Schmidt were honored this month by the Rev. Rob Schenck with the "Ten Commandments Leadership Award." Presented with personalized 10 Commandments plaques by a man who once attempted to hand an aborted fetus to Bill Clinton, they became decorated veterans of the right's culture war.
But in assailing the character of John Murtha, who was honored for actual combat experience with the Purple Heart, Bubp and Schmidt were unfaithful to the words inscribed on the monuments they so revere. So for them, here is a reminder: Thou shalt not bear false witness.