John Kerry’s “botched joke”/habitual troop slander has soaked up most of the blogosphere and MSM’s attention the past week. But under the radar screen, another embarrassing controversy involving the Democrats and the military has been brewing.
Two separate Democrat ad campaigns–run statewide by Missouri Senate candiate Claire McCaskill and run nationally on CNN and FOX by failed Democrat presidential candidate retired Gen. Wesley Clark–have featured an Iraq war veteran identified as Josh Lansdale.
First, watch the McCaskill ad (part of a “Missouri Voices” series with the usual “I’m Claire McCaskill and I approve this ad” endorsement at the end) in which Lansdale attacks McCaskill’s GOP opponent, Sen. Jim Talent, for “cutting veterans benefits:”
Lansdale, a medic who served in Iraq for 11 months in the Sunni Triangle with the Army Reserve’s 487th Engineer Detachment, recounts how he “returned from Iraq with a busted ankle and post-traumatic stress. It was six months before I could see a doctor.” He unjustly blames Sen. Talent for a local administrative delay that, if it occurred, has no plausible connection to Talent’s votes to rein in soaring military health care costs.
We’ll come back to Lansdale’s medical claim and the attack of Sen. Talent in a moment.
Several weeks later, Lansdale flew off to Los Angeles to tape an anti-Bush/anti-Iraq war ad, “Because of Iraq,” produced by something called the “VoteVets Political Action Committee.”
Lansdale was one of four Iraq war vets who made the ad, running until Nov. 7 on CNN and Fox News Channel, with retired Gen./failed Democrat presidential candidate/FNC contributor Wesley Clark:
Watch the original ad on YouTube thanks to the hawk-eyed Jim Hoft:
Lansdale’s line: “Because of Iraq, there are more terrorists in the world.” Here’s a screenshot from his cameo:
But a funny thing happened while almost no one was watching. Lansdale has disappeared from Gen. Clark’s ad.
Now you see Lansdale…now you don’t.
Wanna know why? Because a local Kansas City TV station, KMBC, smelled a rat long before the original Clark ad began airing this week.
There may be a problem with one of the most effective television ads being run by Democrat for U.S. Senate candidate Claire McCaskill. Her campaign can’t prove it is true, KMBC’s Micheal Mahoney reported.
The commercial is called “Josh.” It is named after Kansas Citian Josh Lansdale, a medic who served and was wounded in Iraq. “I returned from Iraq with a busted ankle and post-traumatic stress. It was six months before I could see a doctor,” Lansdale said in the McCaskill ad.
Officials with the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Kansas City said Iraqi vets like Lansdale are priority veterans. “We see them within 30 days of their entry into our system,” said Jane Alley of the VA Medical Center.
…Mahoney reported that he went to one of the addresses for Lansdale, and for more than a week, Mahoney and the McCaskill campaign tried to contact Lansdale. Mahoney said he even asked Lansdale’s mother to have him call KMBC.
In one brief telephone conversation, Lansdale praised the VA’s mental health program, but he complained about how his ankle problem was treated. Mahoney said that indicates some sort of contact, but if, when and for how long cannot be determined.
…Mahoney reported that since Lansdale would not meet with him to answer questions or take phone calls from the McCaskill campaign, he was unable to prove the accuracy of Lansdale’s claim. The commercial is no longer airing on KMBC-TV.
That story aired Oct. 10. Clark’s original ad featuring Lansdale debuted on Nov. 1. In that ensuing period, Lansdale refused to release documentation about his medical claims in the McCaskill ad. Sen. Talent challenged McCaskill on the ad in one of their debates. Another local TV station, Fox 2, investigated the claims further in a report aired Oct. 23. The McCaskill campaign told the station it would not release any VA hospital reports proving Lansdale’s claim because “VA reports are very complicated. He doesn’t need to be put under the microscope any further.” The news broadcast also discovered that Lansdale had in fact seen a nurse practitioner in a timely manner for his medical condition. More local blogs and TV stations tracked Josh’s ducking and hiding. Left-wing blogs attempted to invoke the absolute moral authority defense to shield Lansdale from scrutiny.
Lansdale was quoted in the Kansas City Star in April describing his ankle injury and war experience:
“It was a pretty hot zone. We took a lot of mortar fire, IEDs, car bombs, saw a lot of helicopter crashes and worked the UN embassy bombing. I dragged a lot of people out of burning buildings, cars, motorcycle wrecks and explosions.”
Hoft received e-mails from two retired members of Lansdale’s unit, the Army Reserve’s 487th Engineer Detachment, in response to Lansdale’s anecdotes. An excerpt from Gary Kuehn, SFC/AGR, Retired:
I was the 1SG and Fire Chief for the unit. I also was AGR for the unit for 17 years. We were deployed in May of 03. We were stationed at Camp Anaconda Iraq. We arrived there on or about the 23rd of May and departed on or about the 21st of April 04.
There was one Helicopter tire that blew up on a couple soldiers and messed one up pretty bad and killed the other. There was also one motorcycle accident when a soldier hit a honey wagon (Porta Potty Cleaner) and his head was pretty swollen when we got there. Other than that, There was not one plane or helicopter that crashed on us during this period. None of us even got close to Baghdad or any Embassy buildings other than when we drove on the outskirts on our way to Balad (camp Anaconda).
Yes we had many nights of mortars come in but only a couple even got close to us at the fire station and that was right at the end. 95% that they fired at us either missed everything or were duds. None of my fire fighters that fought any fires dragged anyone out of a building. We had 2 of our own fire fighters go down because of heat problems while fighting fires, but that was it.
I am sure that Josh Lansdale saw a lot of things that you would not see in the states, however he is blowing this way WAY out of proportion. I had 3 other soldiers that came a lot closer than he ever could imagine to being killed. I would have to see his medical records, but I can not even remember him hurting his ankle. He may have sprained it at worse if even that…
But somehow, Clark and the VoteVets organization initially either ignored the doubts about Lansdale or failed to vet him before sticking him in a highly prominent ad campaign attacking the Bush administration and Republicans on the war.
The fact that Lansdale has been cut from the ad speaks volumes about the VoteVets’ belated assessment of his credibility. They obviously think he’s a fraud now, too, or they wouldn’t have dropped him. It also speaks volumes about McCaskill’s continued support of Lansdale’s story. If Gen. Clark is too embarrassed to be seen in an ad with him now, why does the McCaskill campaign still stand by him?
The VoteVets organization, by the way, continues to run aggressive ads in Missouri, where the candidates are locked in a dead heat. McCaskill’s cynical use of an anti-war hoaxer and his promotional group may well be the deciding factor in the election.
Since the invasion of Iraq, Dems and the anti-war Left have been duped by anti-war hoaxers and used them to attack the Bush administration. Remember Jesse MacBeth?
Oh, and anyone up for a trip down Christmas in Cambodia lane?