Friday, February 13, 2004
Ann Coulter's next book should be called Libel. Ann Coulter: Cleland drops a political grenade|
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. In fact, Cleland could have dropped a grenade on his foot as a National Guardsman – or what Cleland sneeringly calls "weekend warriors." Luckily for Cleland's political career and current pomposity about Bush, he happened to do it while in Vietnam.The real story is quite different.
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. He got into office on the basis of serving in Vietnam and was thrown out for his performance as a senator.
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.
On April 8, 1968, I volunteered for one last mission. The helicopter moved in low. The troops jumped out with M16 rifles in hand as we crouched low to the ground to avoid the helicopter blades. Then I saw the grenade. It was where the chopper had lifted off. It must be mine, I thought. Grenades had fallen off my web gear before. Shifting the M16 to my left hand and holding it behind me, I bent down to pick up the grenade.That's not the whole story.
A blinding explosion threw me backwards.
For nearly 32 years, Cleland lived with the belief that it was his grenade that almost took his life. He put his struggle into words in 1980 when he wrote "Strong at the Broken Places," then followed it up with "Going for the Max! 12 Principles for Living Life to the Fullest." Then, in the summer of 1999, Cleland got a telephone call that changed his life: David Lloyd, a fellow Marine who helped save his life on the battlefield, told him it was someone else's grenade that caused the accident.Ann, go leave your emaciated limbs on a battlefield. The world would be a better place without you. And eat a sandwich for god sake.