Thursday, June 3, 2010

Disservice

There’s some kind of karma going on when the Republicans raise a hue and cry over a Democrat being caught in a lie or a misstatement… and it turns out there are several examples of Republicans having done the same thing. The examination of Richard Blumenthal’s history while running for the Senate in Connecticut led us to Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL), who is trying to win the Senate seat once occupied by President Obama; it turns out he made some “misstatements” about his military record. And now Gov. Jan Brewer (R-AZ) is doing a little creative writing on her own.

Gov. Jan Brewer said in a recent interview that her father died fighting Nazis in Germany. In fact, the death of Wilford Drinkwine came 10 years after World War II had ended.

During the war, Drinkwine worked as a civilian supervisor for a naval munitions depot in Hawthorne, Nev. He died of lung disease in 1955 in California.

Ms. Brewer’s umbrage was triggered by people comparing the new Arizona immigration law to Germany in the Third Reich. While invoking the Nazis for everything is both gauche and trivialized the unbelievable horror of that regime, it’s not an excuse to project your late father into the cast of Band of Brothers. That’s like me saying my father made the ultimate sacrifice at Pearl Harbor. Aside from the fact that he was in the Navy during World War II, he wasn’t at Pearl Harbor (he was fifteen at the time), he never saw combat, and he’s still alive. Other than that, though….

The real offense here isn’t that candidates are trying to mislead voters about their war record for the purpose of winning an election or shield themselves from criticism. Exaggeration and embellishment is a human flaw, more often than not harmless; “I caught a fish THIS big,” and if all the people who claimed they were at Woodstock had actually showed up, there would have been a million of them on Yasger’s farm in upstate New York in August 1969. What it does do, in this case, is diminish the service of those who actually did serve in Vietnam or helped liberate Europe on the ground in 1944. The embellishers can’t speak for the real service done by those who were really there, and trying to horn in on it after the fact is a disservice to those who really served.