An Open Letter To Max Cleland

I tapped the following together early this week after reading yet another media eye-roller about the alleged ill-treatment of a former senator from my home state (and trust me, you’ll hear these tall tales again tonight, as he’s introducing John Kerry in Boston), and sent it in to the Atlanta paper as an op-ed. They’ve run my stuff on occasion in the past, but as Cleland’s “smearing” is apparently an article of faith among the editorial staff, I didn’t expect to see this one in print, and to date, I have not been pleasantly surprised to the contrary. At any rate, here it is:

An Open Letter To Max Cleland

Dear Mr. Cleland,

I’ve been seeing your name in the news a lot lately, and much of what I’m reading is very disappointing. Your public statements regarding the end of your political career (“Republicans attacked my patriotism”) and the current Presidential race (“[President George W. Bush] decided to be Mr. Macho Man”) are unworthy of both you and your previously-honorable record of public service.

Nobody ever questioned your patriotism, Mr. Cleland. That was an old Dukakis-campaign straw man your flunkies cooked up to smear your opponents; even the liberal web site Slate admitted as much after an examination of your complaints.

What we did question was your good sense–and judging by your recent descent into the leftist fever swamps, those questions were well-founded. Just two years ago, you were running campaign ads that proclaimed, “Max Cleland supports President Bush on Iraq,” but today, out of power with no hope of being elected again, you’re parroting conspiracy theories that don’t pass that laugh test.

The bitterness in your comments since being defeated are difficult for us to hear, particularly given the sacrifices you made for your country, but that doesn’t make your recent wild claims any more accurate, or your removal from office unjustified. The voters’ decision on you was based on how you served in the Senate, not how you served in Vietnam.

You seem to believe that your lost limbs entitled you to that senate seat. They didn’t, any more than Bob Dole’s WWII wounds entitled him to the presidency. Come to think of it, I must have missed it when you endorsed Dole and fellow war heroes George H. W. Bush over Bill Clinton based on their combat records.

You weren’t cheated out of your seat by George W. Bush, Mr. Cleland. You were removed by us, the Georgia electorate, because you chose to represent Tom Daschle and the Democratic Left instead of Smyrna and Macon and Bainbridge. If you really need somebody to blame for your defeat, you can blame us. Or better yet, you can take a look in the mirror.

You were defeated because you talked like Zell Miller in Georgia, but voted like John Kerry and Ted Kennedy in Washington. You were defeated because we didn’t trust you any more, and we didn’t want you wielding power in our name.

You lost, Mr. Cleland. You lost because like your new best friend, Senator Kerry, you are simply too liberal for Georgia. You need not like those facts, but you do need to accept them, for your own well-being.

According to, one of your most generous campaign donors in 2002 was California musician Don Henley, of the Eagles. Regarding your electoral defeat, you should take Mr. Henley’s advice and, at long last, “Get Over It.”