Bill Clinton and Al Gore’s ‘Phony Soldiers’

By: Warner Todd Huston

Talker Rush Limbaugh is under fire for being falsely accused of saying that any U.S. soldier who comes out against the war is a “phony soldier.” He did not, of course, say such a thing. Rush was actually talking about a man named Jesse Macbeth who was touted by anti-war activists as a soldier who came out against the war, but it turned out later that Macbeth never served in the military at all.

Still, despite that Rush is utterly innocent of these scurrilous charges, members of the Democrat Party and assorted extreme leftists like Media Matters, a far left opinion group focused on the media, have used the “phony soldiers” line as a rallying cry against the right. These far left advocacy groups are desperately trying to lead people to imagine that conservatives, Republicans and war supporters are disingenuous with their support for the troops. These far left groups are at the same time trying to say that it is they, rather than the right, who really respects the troops and they who would never support “phony soldiers.”

But, a quick look back in history reveals quite the opposite. In fact, three cases of Democrats linked to phony soldiers are instructive of how Democrats feel about the military.

In 1997 a body was quietly removed from its grave in Arlington Cemetery, the nation’s military burial grounds. It was the body of M. Larry Lawrence, a long time campaign donor to president Bill Clinton. Lawrence was such a big donor, in fact, that Clinton rewarded him with the Ambassadorship to Switzerland as a payoff for his generosity.

But, there was a dark secret in M. Larry Lawrence’s past. He lied about being a Merchant Marine in World War II. It wasn’t just a white lie, either, for M. Larry Lawrence parlayed his lie into many sorts of honors during his lifetime. He even cajoled the Russian Federation into bestowing a medal upon him for his “heroism” under fire — a heroism that never occurred.

As The New York Times reported in 1997:

“Mr. Lawrence said he had been serving in the United States merchant marine. He said he was thrown overboard into the icy Arctic Ocean after a German torpedo hit his ship as it headed for the Russian port of Murmansk.”

“But Congressional investigators with the House Veterans Affairs subcommittee on oversight and investigations found that Mr. Lawrence’s name did not appear in the Coast Guard’s records of merchant seamen. His name also did not appear in any official documents related to the 1945 voyage of the Horace Bushnell, including the ship’s list of passengers.”

Bill Clinton stood by this man’s false legacy for a long time until his fake war record was finally brought to light. Then he simply forgot about Lawrence and moved on pretending he’d never heard of him.

Bill Clinton stood by a phony soldier because of the large amounts given to him. Clinton also heavily rewarded this liar with prestigious appointments and special dispensation to be buried among REAL heroes in Arlington Cemetery.

During the 2000 election campaign, Democrat Party nominee Al Gore didn’t just stand by a phony soldier, he created one from his own family!

During one of the presidential debates, Al Gore claimed his uncle had been “gassed” in Bosnia during WWI. When fact checkers went back to verify Gore’s claims, no one could find any Gore’s that had even been in WWI, much less had been “gassed” in Bosnia.

As Charles C. Thompson and Tony Hays reported on Oct. 6th, 2000.

”According to an Associated Press report, the uncle Gore referred to in the debate was his late uncle, Reginald. After the debate, the Gore campaign contacted the National Archives seeking any World War I records to support Gore’s assertion. Apparently it came up empty-handed in the quest for confirmation from official sources, since, as the Associated Press story reports, the campaign fell back on the uncle’s 1959 newspaper obituary. It said he had been treated for illness caused by being gassed as a soldier in France (not in the Balkans). Newspaper obituaries are typically based on information provided by the family, with no effort made by the newspaper to verify its accuracy.

Al Gore lied about his family member and created a phony soldier out of whole cloth.

Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa was one of the first Democrats to come out to excoriate Rush Limbaugh for his comments — you know, the ones he didn’t make? Harkin claimed to be incensed over Limbaugh’s “phony soldier” comment.

Harkin would know a little something about phony soldiers. It turns out he IS one. At various times during his political career, Harkin has been heard to boast about his service as a Navy pilot during Vietnam. He has made all sorts of contradictory claims, but at one time he claimed to have flown “combat air patrols.”

In 1991 The Wall Street Journal wrote a piece detailing Harkin’s lies about his own service wherein they determine that Harkin’s claims to have been on combat missions is a fabrication.

”That clearly is not an accurate picture of his Navy service. Though Mr. Harkin stresses he is proud of his Navy record — ‘I put my ass on the line day after day’–he concedes now he never flew combat air patrols in Vietnam.”

So what did he really do?

”He was stationed at the U.S. Naval Air Station at Atsugi, Japan. Damaged aircraft were flown into Atsugi for repairs or sometimes flown out of Atsugi to the Philippines for more substantial work. Mr. Harkin says he and three other Navy pilots flew these ferry flights. And, when the planes had been repaired, he and his fellow pilots took them up on test flights. ‘I had always wanted to be a test pilot,’ he says. ‘It was damned demanding work.’”

So, the question becomes; why are Democrats so mad at Rush about “phony soldiers?” After all, they never had any problem the big money Clinton contributor that lied about his non-existent military service. They never worried much about the false service of Al Gore’s uncle that he boasted about during the 2000 election. And they’ve never taken much time to scold one of their high profile, attack dog Senators for repeatedly lying about his own service.

Why would any phony soldier row upset the Democrats now?

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