Friday, October 29, 2004

What's At Stake?

My first column for the Miami Valley Conservative Alliance's Commentary and Journal is up. You can get it here.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Gottlieb on Jane vs. Turner

Here is our old friend Marty (registration required) talking about Jane Mitakides who is up against Congressman Mike Turner on Nov. 2:
Overarching all that is her talk about, of all things, Turner's voting record. She deals with it statistically, noting a study which showed him siding with the majority of legislators in his party 98 percent of the time. She sometimes refers to this as siding with the notoriously right-wing Tom DeLay (Republican majority leader of the House, from Texas) 98 percent of the time. Actually, their agreements would be a little less frequent. But, anyway, to the degree they vote alike, especially on big issues, it's because they're both supporting President George W. Bush. He's the one driving things.

In truth, Turner isn't a DeLay Republican. DeLay is always trying to pull the party to the right. Turner isn't.

But nobody will be surprised that Turner generally supports Bush. (Exceptions: Turner opposes partially privatizing Social Security, and he voted to extend unemployment benefits when the party leadership was opposed.)

Turner's response to the Mitakides' charge is partly that high support of a party is the norm in Congress, even to the point that Strickland himself is over 90 percent by the count of Congressional Quarterly. So is Rep. David Hobson, the congressman from Springfield, who is often thought of as a moderate among Republicans (having, for example, supported abortion rights and a minimum-wage increase).

When pressed on the issue, Mitakides turns out to be complaining about the prevailing hyperpartisanship. She calls herself a blue dog Democrat. The Blue Dogs (capital B, capital D) are the most conservative Democrats. She's not ready for the capital letters.

She thinks the public wants relatively nonpartisan voters in Congress. She points to Hall, who diverged from the Democratic mainstream on abortion and gay rights.

But can Turner be painted as a hyperpartisan? He was twice elected (and once defeated) as mayor of a Democratic city. He defeated a Tom DeLay Republican for the congressional nomination in 2002. He has nudged the party gently to engage in urban issues, which is something like nudging it toward the center. So this handle is a little slippery.
First of all, don't let anybody be fooled by Jane's attempt to paint herself as some sort of conservative Democrat. Does she sound like Zell Miller? Or Joe Lieberman even? Check out the Jane On... series in the sidebar for an assessment of just how "conservative" Jane really is... She is liberal on healthcare issues. Liberal on defense and veterans issues. Liberal on energy and conservation issues. Liberal on education issues. And, yes, liberal on economic issue such as taxes and jobs.

Martin appropriately takes Jane to task for trying to paint Turner as a partisan. Turner, unlike most politicans, does what he feels is in the best interests of his constituency and his voting record evidence of that assertion. It should be pointed out that Jane received support from the uber-liberal blog The Daily Kos. Kos had some particularly nasty things to say about those Americans who died in Fallujah. While she eventually did the right thing in that case (she pulled her advertising from his site), she didn't condemn him or his views (references to the incident have been removed from her site). That is the kind of Democrat that Jane is in my opinion. The effort to malign Turner as a partisan is the typical sort of projection that Michael Moore Democrats like Jane have been engaging in this campaign season.

Mr. Gottlieb gets bonus points on this one...

Monday, October 04, 2004

Gottlieb on Bush's Guard Service

A recent editorial by Martin Gottlieb that appeared in the Dayton Daily news:
I wrote most of this column in 1988. It's about politicians of my generation and their service in the National Guard during the Vietnam War. I suppose I will write it again in 2020, when some 70-something baby boomer runs for president or vice president, and we all honor the tradition of fighting about Vietnam.
Okay, Mr. Gottlieb is going to address Mr. Kerry's continual references to VIETNAM! Finally, somebody is going to set the record straight! Not exactly...
In 1988, the column was about Dan Quayle; this time, George W. Bush. Quayle was a candidate for vice president who, it turned out, had avoided service in Vietnam by having an employee of his wealthy, newspaper-owning family get him into the Guard.
Sigh. Okay, let's just see where he goes with this tired story...
This sort of thing, as former Daytonian Lawrence Korb notes on the page opposite this one, happened all the time. Guard spots were hard to come by, because the Guard was not fighting in 'Nam, and there was a draft. To dodge the draft, you tried to get into the Guard.
Sure, the ARMY Guard. Air Guard units WERE deployed to Vietnam.
Obviously, at various stages various people have had other reasons for joining the Guard. But, really, during Vietnam that was the predominant reason.
Who are YOU to assign motivation for someone signing up to serve their country?
But there seemed to be no system for determining who got in and who didn't. You just tried whatever.
And you, apparently, didn't get in the Guard. Let's talk about that a bit...
I was in roughly the same position as Quayle and Bush. I had just graduated college. I really, really, really did not want to go to Vietnam, but seemed likely to be drafted because I wasn't married. So, like them, I tried to get into the Guard.
And of course, this is all about YOU.
Unlike them, however, I didn't know anybody. My parents didn't know anybody. I didn't even know anybody who knew anybody. Neither did my parents.
That's too bad. Really. Some of my regular readers are going to accuse me of being sarcastic here, but I mean it.
So I just went around knocking on doors. It wasn't only the Guard. The various services had deals much like the Guard's, wherein you would serve six months of active duty, then five-and-a-half years in the Reserves, training on periodic weekends. As in the Guard, you knew you would not be sent to 'Nam.
Okay...we get it, you didn't want to go and you were looking for an easy way out. So, naturally, you project your feelings on others. I get it.
Nothing. Closed doors everywhere. All these units were full, for obvious reasons. Maybe if I had planned ahead, I could have landed something. I don't know. All I know is that as graduation approached I tried a lot.
So, rather than being about the facts of this particular case, Mr. Gottlieb takes us on a ride through his personal issues. This is what passes for useful commentary on the issue.
I ended up getting drafted, which meant serving two years. At that, I was one of the lucky ones, never being sent overseas.
Excellent! It worked out for you afterall. So, Mr. Gottlieb, let me ask you a question: Do you, like Democratic strategist Mary Anne Marsh, feel that you "betrayed your country because you didn't serve in Vietnam"? The reason I ask is that we've gone through this entire story and it turns out that, like Bush and Quayle, you didn't go to Vietnam, yet you served your country. And, I am assuming, was honorably discharged from your service, just like Bush and Quayle.
Being among the lucky, I never entertained any resentment toward those, like Bush and Quayle, who were luckier still. I knew that luck is the most powerful force in the universe, and that, as the physicists say, it's total quantity is negative. So if you've got some, shut up.
So, naturally, harboring absolutely no resentment, you have penned this very same editorial TWICE.
But then Quayle went and got all self-righteous. He could have said, "Hey, what can I tell you? I was one of the lucky ones, and I thank God every day." Instead, he pretended that anybody who took note of his war-dodging behavior was dissing the National Guard.
Because of course, you know why Dan Quayle served in the Guard because that's what you wanted to do...
He went and spoke before the Guard and talked about how he was proud of serving his country, and how the Guard has a noble history, and all that, which is true, but which had nothing to do with why people like us wanted in.
And you know Because you sat down and had a chat with the Vice President, right? Psychologists have a term for this sort of thing, you know. They call it 'projection.'
Earlier this year, it was reported someplace that Quayle had sent advice to the White House that Bush should follow his lead in handling the Guard issue. Sure enough, Bush recently went before a meeting of Guard people and talked about how proud he was to serve.
"Someplace"? Mr. Gottlieb, come don't know for a fact that Quayle did this. And you are assigning motive to people you know nothing about. Have you had a conversation with either Quayle or Bush about this?

[Full disclosure: Prior to writing this rebuttal, I emailed Mr. Gottlieb and had a pleasant conversation with him. I got an understanding of the motivation behind the writing in just a couple of emails. I'm not going to criticize Mr. Gottlieb for serving his country in whatever capacity; he did what was asked of him. But I am going to hold him accountable for what he writes that is intended to influence the American people against President Bush.]
All across the country, eyes rolled in the deteriorating bodies of the early baby boomers, male variety.
Especially the Air Guard guys who died in Vietnam and at home serving their country, Mr. Gottlieb. Don't do them the dishonor of speaking for them, sir.
And it became time to break out a vintage column. The thing, after all, is not that he dodged; who cares, anymore? If I were on a ballot someplace, I might even consider voting for me, which would be worse than voting for a draft dodger; it'd be voting for a failed draft dodger.
Okay, let's review: Mr. Gottlieb thinks that what Bush was trying to do by joining the Air Guard was to drill on a couple weekends and that's it. The reality is this: when you signed up to be a pilot, you signed on for a nearly two-year full time commitment just to be a pilot. And pilots, regardless of whether they served in the Guard or not, were being sent to Vietnam. This doesn't sound like an easy way out to me...
The thing is the relentless phoniness of it all. Bush pretends to be a straight-talker. In his speech at the Republican convention, he self-servingly listed this as one of his problems. But he can't bring himself to acknowledge what the Guard was to him.
And of course, Mr. Gottlieb knows this because he's sat down and had a conversation with him about it.
Nevertheless, a lot of guys know.
Guys like First Lt. Warren K. Brown, Maj. Bobby G. Neeld, Capt. Mitchell S. Lane, and Capt. Michael T. Adams. (source)
Martin Gottlieb is an editorial writer and columnist for the Dayton Daily News. He may be reached at 225-2288 or by e-mail at
Here are a few more points that Mr. Gottlieb failed to mention:

Bush volunteered to go to Vietnam in a program called "Palace Alert" but was told that he didn't have enough flight experience at the time. It also turned out that the plane he was certified to fly was being phased out of service. In my email exchange with Mr. Gottlieb, Martin wasn't too impressed with this because it has been reported that Bush merely "inquired" about the program. Riddle me this: Why would a guy who is trying to take the easy way out of Vietnam "inquire" about serving in Vietnam?

Mr. Gottlieb also indicated privately that the LA Times reported that Bush had checked the "do not volunteer for overseas duty" box on a form he filled out while serving in the Guard. Where is this document? My research (read Google) has a limited number of reprints of the Times story, a Kerry/Edwards press release dated a couple of days before the Times story, more "commentary," and a link to the Kerry/Edwards website making the same claim.

Now the press release alludes to a "Application for Extended Duty With The United States Air Force, 5/27/68" but there is no link to such a document and I have been unable to locate any such document. I'm not saying that it doesn't exist, but I am saying that I haven't been able to find it and I have been researching this story for quite a few days. If anyone out there does manage to find this document, please email me a link.

Mr. Gottlieb, again in our private exchange, then attempted to attribute a motive of "draft dodging" to Bush by using a recollection of a quote from the always objective Village Voice. Even he had a hard time accepting that, but I think he believes it because he wants to...and that is the problem that I have with this piece.

As some of my regular readers know, my father served in Vietnam in the Marine Corps. He doesn't talk about it much. But in my few conversations with him about Vietnam and its impact on this election, one thing is crystal clear: John Kerry was responsible for destroying the legacy of an entire generation of honorable veterans. If we're going to make Vietnam an issue in this election, we have got to get to the heart of this issue. In 1971, John Kerry lied to Congress when he claimed that atrocities were committed by every soldier and officer in Vietnam. He has never apologized for smearing those guys. He has never admitted that he and his anti-war buddies made it up.

John Kerry has exaggerated his entire life. He did not spend Christmas Eve 1968 in Cambodia. Nixon didn't send him there because Nixon became President in 1969. He did not ferry any CIA guys into Cambodia, or anywhere else for that matter, for which Kerry received a "Magic Hat" as a souvenir. And if John Kerry had a pet dog in Vietnam, why on Earth would he name the dog "VC"? VC was the ENEMY! I'm not going to get in to the whole medal/ribbon issue, but if he is going to lie about this stuff, why not file a false report or two...

How can you trust John Kerry? If Vietnam is your hot-button issue, how can you trust a man with such a history?

Much has been written about Bush and his time in the Texas Air National Guard. Many of these "journalists" have accused the President of having been "AWOL" or a "deserter." Mr. Gottlieb seems to think Bush was some sort of "draft dodger."

Why won't anyone ask John Kerry the tough questions about HIS service? Mr. Gottlieb?