Mark Steyn not only endorsed her slurs against Cleland but added his own. According to him, the former Georgia senator was "no hero" but instead "a beneficiary of the medal inflation that tends to accompany unpopular wars." As a Canadian "humorist" and former disc jockey, Steyn obviously possesses the expertise needed to form such harsh judgments. He scolds Cleland for being "happy to be passed off as a hero wounded in battle because that makes him a more valuable mascot to the [John Kerry] campaign."
Ugly, eh? It's hard to understand why the Chicago Sun-Times would import such vicious nonsense about an American hero.
Neither of Cleland's critics told the truth about him. Both misuse the modest remarks he has made in the past about his wartime experience to try to damage his reputation. He was indeed racked with self-doubt and depression after the accident that cost him his limbs. But that doesn't change the truth about who he is and what he did before that terrible day. He earned the decorations that these two termites now disparage.
Cleland defended his honor on cable television, where he told "Hardball" host Chris Matthews: "I volunteered for a combat mission with the 1st Air Calvary division going in to break the siege at Khe Sanh, and if that isn't a combat mission, you ought to ask some of the people that were there and the 200 guys that were killed in that mission."
According to U.S. Army General Order 4361, dated June 9, 1968, Cleland's conduct during that siege was extraordinarily courageous. Let Coulter or Steyn find a witness who will contradict this Army citation, most recently quoted on the Senate floor last December by that new conservative idol, Sen. Zell Miller himself.
The full text, which cannot be reproduced widely enough, reads as follows:
"Awarded: Silver Star; Date Action: 4 April 1968; Theater: Republic of Vietnam
"Action: For gallantry in action while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam. Captain Cleland distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous action on 4 April 1968, while serving as communications officer of the 2nd Battalion, 12th Calvary during an enemy attack near Khe Sanh, Republic of Vietnam.
"When the battalion command post came under a heavy enemy rocket and mortar attack, Capt. Cleland, disregarding his own safety, exposed himself to the rocket barrage as he left his covered position to administer first aid to his wounded comrades. He then assisted in moving the injured personnel to covered positions. Continuing to expose himself, Capt. Cleland organized his men into a work party to repair the battalion communications equipment which had been damaged by enemy fire. His gallant action is in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service, and reflects great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.
"Authority: By direction of the President, under the provisions of the Act of Congress, approved 9 July 1968."
What Coulter and Steyn did to Cleland by obscuring the truth about his war record is truly despicable. Neither of them would be worthy to shine his shoes -- if only he still needed them.
Saturday, February 21
Ann Coulter Finds An Ally: Slugs Of A Feather
More on the Coulter fallout from Joe Conason. Fellow Bloggers and readers - please do what Joe requests. Reprint and distribute Cleland's Army citiation quoted herein. We (sadly) need to come to his defense:
Posted by Howard Hoffman at 10:50 AM