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Republican delegates to the 2004 Republican National Convention mocked John Kerry’s war wounds and military service.

The Radical Right Has A History Of Demonizing Veterans

It’s like deja vu all over again. Once again the GOP is trashing a decorated war veteran. This time the radical right is going after Alexander Vindman, the Ukraine expert on the National Security Council. Vindman was wounded by a roadside bomb in Iraq and earned a Purple Heart. Trump and the right wing entertainers on Fox News have smeared his patriotism and essentially called him a traitor.

Vindman has drawn the wrath of the GOP Noise Machine because he listened in on Trump’s conversation of July 25 with the president of Ukraine. Vindman has further verified that military assistance to Ukraine was held up due to Trump’s demand that our embattled ally investigate the Bidens. In addition, Vindman testified that the transcript of the call omitted key portions of the conversation. (Why would Trump cover up a portion of the so-called “perfect call?”)

Vindman isn’t the first wounded war hero who has faced vicious attacks from the radical right. In the run up to the 2000 GOP South Carolina primary, John McCain came under assault from Karl Rove and his allies in the Palmetto state.

When George W. Bush’s presidential hopes took a big hit after he lost the New Hampshire primary to McCain, Rove pulled out all of the stops. McCain was accused of having a baby with an African-American prostitute and giving his wife a STD. You can’t make this stuff up. Bush went on to win the crucial South Carolina primary and resumed his march to the nomination.

Two years later, the radical right smeared Senator Max Cleland (D-GA) in connection with his re-election campaign. Cleland lost both legs and his right forearm due to a U.S. grenade during the fierce battle of Khe Sanh in 1968. (Ann Coulter falsely alleged that Cleland was at fault for this horrible accident.) Cleland went on to serve as the Director of the Veterans’ Administration during the Carter Administration and one term in the U.S. Senate.

During his 2002 re-election campaign, his opponent — Saxby Chambliss — ran ads with images of Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein while criticizing Cleland for voting against some obscure homeland security amendments. Incidentally, Chambliss was a draft dodger who avoided service during Vietnam. Chambliss’ ad was blasted by John McCain and Chuck Hagel. Unfortunately, Cleland lost his re-election bid.

Republican attacks on a wounded war hero reached their apogee during the 2004 presidential election when a Bush affiliated super PAC lied about John Kerry’s Vietnam War record. The allegations of the so-called “Swift Vote Veterans For The Truth” were fact checked and debunked by just about every mainstream media outlet. Nonetheless, the mainstream media did repeat the phony allegations thousands of times and treated it as a “he said, she said” type of situation.

John McCain was back in the cross hairs of the radical right when he had the temerity to stand up to Trump’s presidential bid beginning in 2015. The draft dodging former TV reality star trashed McCain’s service and patriotism in 2015 when he said: “He’s not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”Since then, Trump has continued to denigrate McCain’s heroic service to our country.

Since the Reagan Administration, the GOP has claimed to be the pro-military and patriotism party. Those claims ring hollow in light of its pattern of demonizing wounded war heroes who oppose the radical right. The radical right will say and do anything to obtain and keep power. They are ruthless and extreme. Once they gain power, the GOP acts on its belief that rich people don’t have enough money and that the poor and middle class have it too easy. We’re in a fight and we need to win it!

I’m a trial lawyer, a Democratic activist and a sports fan.

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