If you weren't paying attention to the political blogosphere, a week and a half ago there was a special election in Ohio. Paul Hackett was the Democrat running against Jean Schmidt in a district that tends to go heavily Republican (it went for Bush by 26 points in 2004). Hackett was a recently returned Iraqi veteran, and was actually criticized for it by his opponent. There was a big push of support for Hackett in the liberal blogs in the last week of the election, but it wasn't enough. The good news is that it was an astonishingly close margin of only 4%, which bodes well for 2006.
But what was most shocking was that Rush "Support the Troops or You're a Terrorist" Limbaugh treated him, an American veteran, with an astonishing degree of disrespect. Here is one exchange he had with a caller:
Here is what Wikipedia has to say about these two cities:
RUSH: He was in the Civilian Affairs Unit, and this is a Washington Post story (it says here) from July 30th. "A lawyer and a major in the Marine reserves, Hackett volunteered last year to serve in Iraq and spent seven months there in the civilian affairs job, including service around Ramadi and Fallujah...So he volunteered to serve, spent seven months in a civilian affairs job... Okay, call him a staff puke if that's what you want, but civilian affairs, staff puke.
Ramadi: Ramadi is considered to be the southwest point of Iraq's Sunni Triangle. It has been a focal point of resistance to the U.S. occupation of Iraq. On April 6, 2004, at least 12 U.S. Marines were killed by guerilla forces in Ramadi, in an apparent effort to relieve the ongoing siege of nearby Fallujah.
Fallujah: Fallujah has become one of the most dangerous areas for coalition military troops during the occupation of Iraq. Since the occupation began, more than 200 Americans have died in Fallujah — more than any city except Baghdad.
Yeah, Hackett must really be a big pussy to hang around Ramadi and Fallujah.
Rush later accused him of going to Iraq with ulterior motives:
The big picture here is they got another liberal Democrat trying to hide behind a military uniform...And it appears that, you know, he goes to Iraq to pad the resume...
Can you just imagine the nuclear screaming hissy fit that Republicans would throw if anyone attacked a conservative Iraqi vet's service? There would be accusations of treason, hating our troops, and everything short of devil worship. Oh wait, that's pretty much standard fare.
It's is a testament to the power of the Right Wing Spin Machine that somehow Bush's minimal service during the Vietnam War became more heroic than Kerry's (which one took a bullet?), that it can effectively question the patriotism of Max Cleland after he lost three limbs in Vietnam, and that it can fearlessly call Paul Hackett a "puke." That last, mind you, coming from a man that didn't serve in Vietnam because he had a cyst on his ass. (It was later reclassified as his head.)
There have long been apocryphal stories of Vietnam vets getting spit on in airports as they returned from the war. (Those dirty hippie liberals, ya know.) I guess we know who's doing the spitting now.