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"America has two great dominant strands of political thought - conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barriers that should never have been erected." -- Bill Clinton, Dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library, November 2004

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Tuesday, December 23, 2003


using Charlie to smear Howard

posted by Aziz P. at Tuesday, December 23, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
Political apologists for Bush seem to turn a blind eye to their candidate's shady record of military service - and positively exult when Bush wraps himself in a flight suit to try and borrow our servicemen's honor for his political advantage. It makes their sudden righteous outrage about Howard Dean's brother all the more transparent. That doesn't mean they won't try and repeat these attacks. Here's the latest iteration:

It goes like this: in August the Quad City Times submitted a list of 20 questions to all the Democrat presidential candidates, one of which asked them to complete the following sentence: "My closest living relative in the armed services is...?"

Dean responded by saying "my brother is a POW/MIA in Laos, but is almost certainly dead."

This is technically true (the DoD did end up classifying Charlie Dean as MIA) but grossly misleading and deceptive. For those who don't know, Charlie Dean was a civilian and an antiwar activist who worked for George McGovern in 1972.

The essay then quotes an editorial in the Quad-City Times that also tries to inflate the significance:

The U.S. Department of Defense classified Charlie Dean as Missing in Action, meaning that he was among those officially sought by our government. He wasn't the only civilian with such a classification.

But he was a civilian, not a member of the armed services.

And the New York Times has picked it up from there with a story titled "Dean Rebuked for Statement Implying Brother Served in Military"

There isn't really much to say about this. Either you believe that Dean consciously tried to "imply" that Charlie served in the military or you don't. Dean Nation reported on Drudge's earlier attempt at this smear where he argued that Charlie received undeserved military honors - and I'm sure that this line of attack will be served repeatedly in the general election as well.

Pointing out that the military considers *all* Americans missing in Vietnam as prisoners of war is pointless (the QCT editorial even acknowledges this, but deems it irrelevant). The better line of defense is a good offense - pointing out that this is a cheap ploy to try and invoke outrage from members of our military, and play into the weak on defense argument. As we have pointed out time and time again, it's Bush who has made us weaker - and it's Bush who shows true disrespect to our armed forces by sponsoring cuts in their benefits, forcing them to pay their own way home on leave for Iraq, wrapping himself in their glory, and of course the ultimate insult - his own AWOL from the National Guard dfuring Vietnam.

Charlie was a civilian - and died in Vietnam. Bush was in the National Guard - and went AWOL. And between Bush and Dean, its clear which one sees the military as disposable pawns and which one doesn't.


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About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.