Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Mr. Blackwell Accessorizes 

Q.: How many T's in "Morton"? A.: None. From Terry Neal in the Washington Post:
Many delegates here have been seen out and about in recent days sporting bandages with a Purple Heart, the military medal for those who have been wounded in action, on them. According to the Associated Press, the bandages were handed out by Morton Blackwell, a Republican National Committee member from Virginia, with the message: "It was just a self-inflicted scratch, but you see I got a Purple Heart for it.''

Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie called Blackwell on Monday and asked him to stop handing out the bandages, according to both men. Blackwell said the Kerry campaign went "ballistic" when they heard about it and tried to make "political hay" out of it . . . .

While some of President Bush's supporters, including his father, have also called Kerry's awards into question, Bush has said Kerry earned the medals.

"I agree with the president," Blackwell said. "I think [Kerry] did a good thing when he jumped in the water and saved that man. That's more than Ted Kennedy did for Mary Jo Kopechne at Chappaquiddick."

Last night, outside the CNN studio set up in Madison Square Garden, I ran into Jon Soltz, who served in Iraq as a captain and tank platoon leader in the 1st Armored Division. Soltz, now a coordinator for Veterans for Kerry in Pennsylvania, was fuming. This morning I talked to him again.

"This is the same kind of stuff that they pulled against Max Cleland in 2002 and John McCain in 2000," he said. "Now they're continuing to try to attack Senator Kerry. Frankly, I'm not surprised anymore. . . . You've got a vice president who turned his back on his country five times [the number of military deferments Cheney received during Vietnam], you've got a president who evaded service in Vietnam. They have no respect for men and women in uniform.

"I think it's time to talk about my war -- Iraq. It's my friends who are coming back dead and wounded and they can't even respect Purple Hearts. Any man who's been into combat knows he was lucky if he comes back alive. It's not a joking matter."

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