Beyond the pale


Geraldine Sealey
February 13, 2004 3:22AM (UTC)

We know, by now, what to expect from Ann Coulter. But her latest attack on triple amputee Vietnam War veteran and former U.S. Sen. Max Cleland is low, even by her standards. In a froth over the continued questions about gaps in President Bush's National Guard duty, Coulter says Cleland -- who, we'll again remind you, fought in Vietnam and came back a triple amputee -- "should stop allowing Democrats to portray him as a war hero."

In her syndicated column, found on Townhall.com, a project of the conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation, Coulter tells us that Cleland "did not give his limbs for his country."

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"Cleland lost three limbs in an accident during a routine noncombat mission where he was about to drink beer with friends. He saw a grenade on the ground and picked it up. He could have done that at Fort Dix Indeed, if Cleland had dropped a grenade on himself at Fort Dix rather than in Vietnam, he would never have been a U.S. senator in the first place. Maybe he'd be the best pharmacist in Atlanta, but not a U.S. senator."

More Coulter: "Cleland wore the uniform, he was in Vietnam, and he has shown courage by going on to lead a productive life. But he didn't 'give his limbs for his country,' or leave them 'on the battlefield.' There was no bravery involved in dropping a grenade on himself with no enemy troops in sight."

Not only should Coulter and the Heritage Foundation apologize to Cleland, they also owe an explanation and apology to those families who have lost U.S. soldiers in "noncombat" situations recently in Iraq. Does Coulter really think there's "no bravery involved" in being wounded or killed -- under any circumstances -- while serving?


Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at Salon.com.

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