Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Over there in Barrytown they do things very strange 

Accounts of the attempted "swiftboating" of McCain by former POW Phillip Butler has been noted by both sides of the political sphere, and generally regarded as unwarranted by most. Let me both offer both a caution and a little insight into the matter.

First, I want to caution others against unfairly disparaging Dr. Phillip Butler, as some commenters have done. He is a combat decorated Naval Aviator and former POW and deserves our respect for his service and sacrifice. Beyond that, though, while his opinion may be contrary to yours, I saw nothing in that video that was rude or disrespectful to Sen. McCain, and I feel that Dr. Butler, just on a level of human decency, at least deserves the same consideration.

It is fair, however, to examine both the messenger and those who would give him greater voice. On the latter, it has already been noted how the ad sponsor, Democracy for America, was not only founded by DNC chairman Howard Dean and currently run by his brother, Jim Dean, but quite clearly identifies itself as a "grassroots powerhouse working to change our country and the Democratic Party from the bottom-up" that is dedicated to "support[ing] progressive issues and candidates up and down the ballot." Now there's nothing wrong with this group putting out any ad it chooses, but it is less than honest for some, like Talking Point Memo, to call them an "independent group" or to compare this ad made and sponsored by what may in fairness be viewed as an adjunct to the Democrat party to those previously done by SBVT, a group that included many from both parties.

As to Dr. Butler, it is fair to note that, in contrast to the SBVT, he is but a single voice. But should that make his message less important? If it is an important message, perhaps not, but I contend that it may not be. In fact, Sen. McCain's experiences as a POW and his "infamous reputation for being a hot head" are only two of many reasons Dr. Butler expressed in his article "Why I Will Not Vote for John McCain" published at military.com on March 27, 2008. Among the other reasons cited are the standard laundry list of Democrat talking points:One may also fairly question if Dr. Butler's current position as a "peace and justice activist with Veterans for Peace" should also be taken into consideration. I think knowing his professional and presumably heartfelt association with a group that is currently soliciting participation in the Million Doors for Peace, a "cross-organizational group of people including MoveOn, CodePink, TrueMajority, United for Peace and Justice, and many others." (As a side note, I see that so far 56 members of VFP have signed up. Assuming the other four groups cited have been equally successful that comes to about 3500 doors per person, a hefty day's work, indeed!) So, when Dr. Butler says he doesn't want Sen. McCain as President, is he expressing an opinion solely on behalf of a concerned fellow POW or just continuing the Democrat message he had already embraced since Sen. McCain cinched the GOP nomination? A position that, based upon the policy issues he had already contended with in his March 27, 2008 article, really depends neither upon either the Senator's status as a former POW nor Dr. Butler's personal experience with the Senator.

I do not begrudge Dr. Butler his opinions nor his right to express them, but I do find it insulting, offensive and, unfortunately, completely expected for a Democrat supporting and supported organization to attempt to hide not only their affiliation but their spokesman's partisan affiliations and ostensibly present him as just an average Joe. As the Blogfather would say, it's just another case of dog bites man.

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