Coulter's Swift Boat-style smear of Vietnam veteran Murtha


In her December 1 nationally syndicated column, right-wing pundit Ann Coulter attacked Rep. John P. Murtha (D-PA), who recently offered a resolution calling for the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq, by questioning his military service. Murtha, a retired U.S. Marine colonel who served in Vietnam from 1966 to 1967, received the Bronze Star, two Purple Hearts, and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry. Coulter questioned Murtha's medals, writing that he "refuses to release his medical records showing he was entitled to his two Purple Hearts."

Coulter's slander of Murtha was reminiscent of tactics used by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (now the Swift Vets and POWs for Truth), who smeared Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), another decorated Vietnam veteran, during his 2004 presidential campaign. The group claimed that Kerry's five combat medals were undeserved despite extensive documentation to the contrary.

From Coulter's December 1 column, in which she objected to the praise* a number of Republican government officials bestowed upon Murtha:

What is this? Special Olympics for the Democrats? Can't Republicans disagree with a Democrat who demands that the U.S. surrender in the middle of a war without erecting monuments to him first? What would happen if a Democrat were to propose restoring Saddam Hussein to power? Is that Medal of Freedom territory?

I don't know what Republicans imagine they're getting out of all this love they keep throwing at Democrats. I've never heard a single liberal preface attacks on Oliver North with a recitation of North's magnificent service as a Marine. And unlike Murtha, who refuses to release his medical records showing he was entitled to his two Purple Hearts, we know what North did. (These Democrat military veterans are hardly shrinking violets when it comes to citing their medals, but they get awfully squeamish when pressed for details.)

A May 12, 2002, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article reported that "Marine Corps casualty records show that Murtha was injured in 'hostile' actions near Danang, Vietnam, on March 22, 1967 and May 7, 1967. In the first incident, his right cheek was lacerated, and in the second he was lacerated above his left eye. Neither injury required evacuation."

Coulter went on to compare Murtha to George Lincoln Rockwell, a World War II Navy pilot who founded the American Nazi Party:

Sen. Teddy Kennedy [D-MA] didn't issue a 20-minute soliloquy on what a wonderful man Judge Robert Bork was as a human being before attacking his judicial philosophy. Kennedy just laid into Bork like he was George Lincoln Rockwell.

Speaking of which, George Lincoln Rockwell, former head of the American Nazi Party, served in the military during World War II. Are we obligated to praise his war service before disputing his views?

*Republican praise of Murtha came after the White House attacked him for advocating troop withdrawal. In a November 17 statement, White House press secretary Scott McClellan said of Murtha: "[I]t is baffling that he is endorsing the policy positions of Michael Moore and the extreme liberal wing of the Democratic party. The eve of an historic democratic election in Iraq is not the time to surrender to the terrorists."

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy, War in Iraq
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