This Alaska notebook will appear in Saturday's print edition, on the editorial page:
by Matt Zencey
Gov. Sarah Palin is putting her conservative Republican fame to work in Georgia, stumping for Republican U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, who is in a tough runoff for re-election.
I wonder if she knows the true measure of the man she is eagerly helping.
Chambliss was elected to the Senate in 2002 by running one of the most reprehensible campaigns of modern times. He was up against incumbent Democrat Sen. Max Cleland, a Vietnam War veteran who lost both legs and his right arm to a grenade during that conflict.
Chambliss avoided serving in Vietnam. He got four student draft deferments, and when his number finally came up, he was medically disqualified with knee troubles.
In the best Karl Rove fashion, Chambliss the draft-evader attacked Cleland the war hero for being soft on terrorism. Distorting Cleland’s votes about workplace rules for the new Homeland Security Department employees, Chambliss portrayed him as a tool of terrorists like Osama bin Laden.
Here’s how the Almanac of American Politics (2006) described it:
“Chambliss ran an ad, much attacked in the press, showing pictures of Osama Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and Max Cleland, and saying that Cleland 'voted against the President’s vital homeland security efforts 11 times.’” (Those “vital homeland security efforts” Cleland opposed were intended to strip homeland security employees of union rights and other workplace protections.)
The man who couldn’t bring himself to serve in the military said a man who left three limbs behind in war was a weakling who would turn the country over to terrorists.
Chambliss was a congressman during the 9-11 attacks. Congressional Quarterly’s “Politics in America 2006” noted that Congressman Chambliss “quipped that one route to security would be for local sheriffs to 'arrest every Muslim that comes across the state line.’”
So there you have the fine American that Palin is trying to re-elect to the U.S. Senate.
Gov. Palin’s eldest joined the Army and has been deployed to Iraq. As a justifiably proud military mom, she might ask herself why she is using her conservative star power to support such a reprehensible Republican chicken hawk.
— Matt Zencey