After all the campaign's dirty tricks in 2004, I thought I had seen it all. Was I ever wrong. Turns out the Swift Boat Veterans could have learned a thing or two about ruthlessness from Missouri Senator Jim Talent.
I read today about Jim Talent's efforts to slander and demonize a young veteran of the war in Iraq, a man named Josh Lansdale. That young man's only transgression, the act for which Jim Talent thinks he should be publicly branded as a liar, was that he fought bravely in the war on terror and then spoke out at home about the mistreatment of veterans.
Some of you may have seen Josh's ad on television. In it, he talked about how when he returned home from the middle east with an injured leg and post-traumatic stress disorder he waited more than six months for an appointment with a Veterans' Administration doctor. His wait was the result of cuts to veterans' programs made by Bush and the Republican Congress-- cuts that Talent supported.
When Talent should have been apologizing to Josh, his campaign manager Lloyd Smith instead went so far as to call Josh's claims "a fraud":
â€œMcCaskill can settle this right now by providing the media with the
veteranâ€™s appointment schedule as verified by the Veterans
Administration Medical Center in Kansas City. If she doesnâ€™t,
Missourians are entitled to believe the ad is a fraud and that
McCaskill is not telling the truth.â€
Some of us may remember that Lloyd Smith ran George W. Bush's 2004 campaign in the state of Missouri. The same George W. Bush who refused repeatedly to provide documents that would prove he showed up for national guard duty in Alabama. Now Smith's defaming as a "fraud" a young man who actually served in wartime and was injured in the line of duty.
As if that weren't enough, Talent got some of Missouri's Republican state legislators to join in on kicking Josh while he was down.
Even though the ad has been off the air for at least a week, a group of pro-Talent veterans â€” including state Reps. Jack Jackson, R-Wildwood, and Jim Avery, R-Crestwood â€” gathered in front of the Soldiers Memorial Tuesday afternoon to blast the ad, McCaskill and Lansdale.
â€œI think that commercial is simply not true,'â€™ said Jackson. â€œI believe that Claire McCaskill did not verify her facts.'â€™
How disgusting. Jim Talent and his buddies support the troops only when they defer to the GOP's talking points. If they deviate from the President's political line, they are quickly cast aside as "liars" and "frauds", made into fodder for the GOP's high-powered media meat-grinder and their service to our nation is written off as an inconvenient footnote.
For Jim Talent's political handlers, a veteran who comes back home and interferes one iota with the re-election campaign is one whom they'd prefer have never come back from the war at all.
Josh needs to know that the overwhelming majority of Missourians support his service and his equally difficult stand against cuts to veterans' funding. Those of us who support Josh should make sure that Senator Talent ought to be supporting him too, instead of attacking him as a cheap political defense.
I support Josh. I'll be calling Jim Talent's office first thing tomorrow morning, and I encourage anyone who values the commitment and sacrifice of our military veterans to do the same. Here's how:
1. Call Jim Talent's office at (202) 224-6154.
2. Tell his staffer "I support Josh Lansdale, and want to know why Jim Talent doesn't support injured veterans like Josh."
3. Post a comment to this post, addressed to Josh, to relay your support for Josh and thank him for his brave service.
I support Josh, and am tired of politicians like Jim Talent attacking patriots like him from their money-stuffed thrones in Washington DC. I'll bet you support Josh, too. We can all speak up to make sure that Jim Talent doesn't try to play this kind of sad, deceitful and immoral politics ever again.
Call (202) 224-6154. Tell them you support Josh.