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  • Then Why Couldn’t They Find a Real Vet?

    Posted by Shannon Love on May 16th, 2009 (All posts by )

    From a story about a fake vet who campaigned heavily for Democratic candidates, including Obama, in Colorado. [h/t Instapundit] The candidates, who claim that they were defrauded along with Colorado voters, say:

    The Polis and Udall campaigns emphasize that Strandlof was a bizarre exception to the outpouring of help they received from veterans disillusioned with Bush-era policies. “His actions in no way reflect on the credibility of real veterans who supported Mark’s campaign or on the importance of their issues,” said Trujillo, Udall’s spokeswoman.

    If there were a lot of veterans disillusioned with Bush-era policies (now Obama-era policies) why did they find it necessary to rely on a fake vet? If they had dozens or hundreds of real vets ready to sign on to their campaigns what are the odds the most prominent one would be a mentally-ill fraud?

    You con someone by playing to their prejudices. Strandlof conned the Democrats by presenting them a fabricated persona and history custom-designed to fit the Democratic narrative.  An actor playing a vet scripted to their narrative served their purposes better than a real vet

    However, the real reason they didn’t check Strandolf’s creditials is that they didn’t care if he was real or not.

    Democrats have a long history of using fake vets to win elections. John Kerry launched his political career using the fabricated testimony of fake veterans in his infamous “Winter Soldier” stunt. When he testified in front of Congress that American soldiers were committing war crimes on a daily basis “in a fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan” he offered as supporting evidence the fraudulent testimony of dozens of people who were either never in the military or had never served on the front lines in Vietnam. Kerry never paid any political price for his lying because the Democrats simply didn’t care that he had lied. 

    Democrats feel justified in using fake vets because of their utter contempt for the intelligence and wisdom of the electorate. Fake vets are just another version of the “What’s The Matter with Kansas” mindset which holds that most American adults are simply too stupid to understand what is good for them. In this mindset, using fake vets to lie about the American conduct of a war is no more immoral than telling a child that Santa Claus exists. 

    Fortunately for the health of the Republic, a lot of political diversity exists in the political beliefs of America’s vets and active military personnel. Should we ever see a time when the vast majority of military personnel cluster in one part of the political spectrum we will face political instability. The Democrats could easily find veterans who would doubt the wisdom of any particular war or the specific means of conducting a particular war. Why then do they time and time again use fake veterans to front their arguments?

    Easy, real veterans won’t lie. In 1971, John Kerry could have found thousands of real Vietnam veterans who believed the war ill conceived and ill fought but he couldn’t find any real Vietnam veterans who would lie about witnessing large numbers of true war crimes. Without fake vets, John Kerry couldn’t make his central argument that the American military in Vietnam had crossed over the line into Nazi-like evil. 

    John Kerry’s lies eventually got him to within a gnat’s whisker of the Presidency. Younger Democrats have watched the rise of Kerry and others of his generation who lied and they know that deceit not only works but that using it has no negative consequences. For this reason, we will always see fake vets dragged out by Democratic candidates, activists and left-leaning media. They have no reasons, either moral or practical, not to do so. 

    They think winning an election well worth a few days of “red faced” embarrassment. 

     

    18 Responses to “Then Why Couldn’t They Find a Real Vet?”

    1. Ginny Says:

      Well, it has minor real effects. I cancelled my subscription to The New Republic.

    2. Ed Rasimus Says:

      The interesting aspect of the Denver Post story isn’t that the Democrats didn’t check the guy out, but that the Republicans didn’t look at him either. There have been enough instances of unmasked poseurs and wannabes now that it should be expected in any outspoke advocate of a political position. The information is public record for verifying most claims. There are several organization specializing in the unmasking such as Chuck and Mary Shantag’s http://www.pownetwork.org.

      Simple request for a DD-214 will usually suffice, but even that document is no longer the confirmation it once was.

      The VA currently has twice as many benefit recipients listed as Vietnam POWs as were actually repatriated. No one seems to care beyond the few, we happy few…

    3. Shannon Love Says:

      Ed Rasimus,

      The interesting aspect of the Denver Post story isn’t that the Democrats didn’t check the guy out, but that the Republicans didn’t look at him either.

      I think the higher level of respect that Republicans hold for veterans makes it harder for them to imagine that any particular veteran is a fake. If you like and respect a particular group of people, you’re less likely to be suspicious of any particular one. Republicans are also more tolerate of dissent than are leftist. It doesn’t occur to them that something is hinky just because a veteran opposes a war or engages in political activity to that end. After all, a lot of accomplished and dedicated American warriors have made good faith mistakes in that regard.

      Leftist, by contrast, assume that anyone disagrees with them does so out ulterior motives. When they see ordinary middle-class people protesting at tea parties, their default assumption is that it is all astroturf orchestrated by Kark Rove or his successor. Ditto for scientist that don’t sign onto hysterical global warming, technology fears, intelligence estimates etc. Were the circumstance reversed in this case and a veteran was engaged in high profile activities on behalf of Republicans, the left’s default assumption would be that he was a fraud of some kind.

    4. Jonathan Says:

      I think the Republicans are incompetent. When you are considering hiring someone you check his references first.

    5. Shannon Love Says:

      Jonathan,

      The Republicans did drop the ball but they might have been hesitant to investigate a vet. What if he’d been real. Just the revelation that they checked up on him could be damaging and if they mistakenly accused him it would be devastating.

    6. Michael Kennedy Says:

      Clare McCaskill is in the Senate because of another fake vet story. I had done a post on this earlier today. The alleged injured vet disappeared from the Democrat ads but the damage was done. It always seems to work. There have been a couple of Republican fakers, one Utah Congressman and a weird governor of Arizona come to mind, but it has worked well for Democrats.

    7. Helen Says:

      Sorry to ask what must seem stupid to you but how many people believe these vets, considering the number of fakes there have been? Does it still work? I can have no feel for that on this side of the Pond.

    8. Ed Rasimus Says:

      Helen,

      The perverse fact is that the default position is to believe someone who says they were a veteran. That makes it easy for an individual to create a persona of courage, honor, military service, etc. With fewer and fewer Americans among the ranks of those who have military experience it becomes less likely that the audience for these poseurs will have factual basis to challenge them.

      Anyone who indicates they were a POW, a SEAL, Special Forces, Marine Force Recon, a fighter pilot, etc. should be considered skeptically. If the career seems remarkable, it bears scrutiny. The real guys won’t be offended by the probing and the fakes might be more reluctant to pad their resumes.

    9. Shannon Love Says:

      Helen,

      Sorry to ask what must seem stupid to you but how many people believe these vets, considering the number of fakes there have been?

      The mainstream media doesn’t pay much attention to them so I imagine that most people in the general public are not aware of how common the practice is. I also believe that the 20% most left part of the political spectrum simply does not care whether veterans are real or not. They hold the narrative more true than reality. Fake but accurate is their lodestone.

      Certainly, no one paid attention to John Kerry’s use of fake vets back in the 70’s. Had a Republican done something similar, say, using fake poor people to oppose welfare policies, it would be all the Democrats would talk about.

      Someone should write a book on the subject.

    10. Sgt. Mom Says:

      Someone should write a book on the subject

      Someone has, not specifically about one party or individual orchestrating events using fake veterans, but about the huge numbers of fraudulent Vietnam-era veterans. J.G Burkett, and it’s called “Stolen Valor”

      My own quick tell is to ask, all wide-eyed and casual, what their MOS or AFSC was, or if they had visited someplace on TDY. Anyone who looks blank was never in the military. My own quick take, here.

    11. Helen Says:

      Thank you for the explanation. It seems really weird that people can claim to have done some things and not be able to produce any buddies who vouch for them. I’d like to think this could not happen here (I’d probably be wrong) because people have to say which regiment or company they were in.

    12. Shannon Love Says:

      Helen,

      America’s military is so large that you don’t find the same degree of networking as you do in the British military. Also, we don’t have same tradition of military units which have existed for centuries and which have substantial civil social networks of longstanding built up around them. By contrast our military really doesn’t connect with any civil institutions or networks. People from the same families, communities, school etc don’t have a tradition of all going into the same units generation after generation.

    13. Subotai Bahadur Says:

      While it is a good question to ask why the Republicans don’t routinely check out the background to those claiming to be military personnel who are public supporters of anti-military Democrats [pardon the redundancy]; there is another question that must be attached.

      Let us say that during an election campaign, some pseudo-Rambo is shilling for a typical Leftist. Let us further say that the Republicans investigate and find proof that the pseudo-Rambo is in fact a fake.

      What do they do then? If they make a claim of him being a fake, what are the odds that in the United States that the media will not either; a) totally ignore or suppress the proof, or b) actively defend the fake veteran, even if they know that he is a fake, and use the claim as a club to attack the Republicans?

      The incidence of fake veterans supporting Democrats is high enough that both the Democrats and the media have to know that they are fakes. It is all a Democrat infomercial carried by the press.

      Subotai Bahadur

    14. tomw Says:

      If your normal mode of operation is to expect that people, in general, are honest and forthright, you will continue in that mode until you are proven wrong. My observation is that Democrats are of a mind that “they all do that…”, whatever ‘that’ may be. They have the EXPECTATION of wrongdoing and deceit in their politicians. The Republicans are more willing to believe that people are not duplicitous, or at least, the vast majority are not. They also believe that about their candidates.
      So, if you are Republican, you are less likely to accept misbehavior in office than the Democrats. Witness how many members of Congress on the left still maintain their office versus the almost absolute dismissal of Republicans who are miscreants of any level.
      The D’s expect their pols to be crooks and are not surprised in the least when proven true, AND have the same expectation of the R pols. The R’s expect theirs to be honest, and expect the D pols to be somewhat dis-honest.
      quod erat demonstrandum, no?
      tom

    15. Eddie Says:

      From my experiences in a WA (before I moved to NC after getting out of the Navy and joined the one there) Veterans for Obama group, the average vet there was more pissed about the conduct of the war, the commanders (like Franks) and the failings of the VA than charges of war crimes and rampant corruption.

      When a few would show up to a meeting and start handing out leaflets and articles printed out from some obscure leftist site (or conspiracy-centric group), we politely asked them to leave, given that these sorts make the group look bad and discredit the message of support for Obama’s policies.

      Or, you get guys who come up to you or others and spin a sad-sob story that doesn’t add up from the get-go. When I asked basic questions about Marine MCT (one aspect of the Marines I am familiar with from my school time with them and all the jokes and stories they would tell about it in Meridian, MS before going to the fleet) of one guy who fancied himself a discharged, wounded Marine from Iraq, he could not answer them. He claimed he lost hearing in most of his right ear from an IED blast, but when we spoke to him from a distance on his right side he could hear every word without mention of an implant or any evident hearing aid. I mean, his story just smelled funny, talking about the Shia insurgents in Kirkuk (of all places, aren’t there mostly Kurds, Turkmen and Sunnis there?) who killed a bunch of his buddies. My simple point is these people tend to tell on themselves from the get-go, something most people with little understanding of the military can’t always pick up on.

      So I would say, the fault really lies with the Vets for Obama people. We should have done a far better job of policing this kind of nonsense. Also, using vets to attack people was a tactical mistake anyway, cheapening often valid points the vets opposed to Republican or McCain policies could bring forward.

      Not that is just with the Left/Center though. My classmate convinced me to go to a veterans support rally for McCain (who I would rather have had in office than HRC) on the Yorktown the day before the SC primary, but we could not get a ticket and had to stand outside in the parking lot with the Vets Against McCain protesters who passed around leaflets about McCain being a Manchurian Candidate for the ChiComs and assorted other slanders about him. How is a Vietnam Vet Against McCain (or so said the shirt one was wearing) in his mid-30’s? Again, some of these things don’t add up with these people from the get-go.

    16. Shannon Love Says:

      Eddie,

      Can’t really disagree with anything you say. These people make it doubly hard for people critical of a war or military operation to make legitimate points.

      I think the real problem here is a political subculture in which it is considered permissible to lie about specific fact in order to advance a greater truth. They have a narrative which they must sell by any means. In this case the narrative is the idea that American wars are bad and unnecessary. If you start with this as revealed truth then it seems justified to make up fake facts to support the truth. After all, there must be some atrocities and lying and war, does it really matter if specific stories of atrocities or lies are actually true as long as they communicate the idea of the horror of war? It’s something like the police story plot in which an officer frames a villain for a crime he didn’t commit because he can’t convict him for the crime he did commit.

      If you look at the justifications from the left for the New Republic’s Scott Thomas scandal you see people actually saying that even if his stories weren’t literally true, they nevertheless accurately revealed the truth of the behavior of American soldiers in Iraq. Fake but accurate is their byword.

      So, it’s easy to see how such people would not bother to vet either individuals or specific facts that reinforce their narrative. In the end, they just don’t care about specifics. It’s just the narrative that is important. Add in the fact that they will never pay any substantial political price for such behavior and they have absolutely no motive not use fake veterans and fake stories.

    17. Eddie Says:

      Shannon,

      I agree that even when these stories are discredited in public, the attraction of narrative does seem to be a powerful motivator for such nonsense to continue to be accepted. That unnerves me to no end.

      I do think a redoubled “Honor Guard” effort by veterans groups to purge their ranks of such filth and actively work to discredit them would be a wise course of action to take. The very real suffering of those with Gulf War Syndrome (or whatever it actually is) has often been ignored or overlooked because of a few crackpots given prominent publicity who have claimed a gov’t genocide or massive coverup, hijacking a legitimate issue.

      Political entities and veterans groups would be wise to use simple background checks for anyone they accept as an advocate. If this dirtbag had been caught before the election, what kind of impact might the scandal have had on the Dem candidates?

    18. Shannon Love Says:

      Eddie,

      Political entities and veterans groups would be wise to use simple background checks for anyone they accept as an advocate.

      That’s good idea and probably the one that should be adopted. Unfortunately, that kind of system can be compromised by identity theft so it doesn’t provide perfect protection. We should still do it because apparently, we have absolutely no checks in place now.