Warriors and peace

Max Cleland joins the chorus of veterans supporting Charlie Brown

Nobody said a word about carpetbagging or misuse of per diems when Vietnam veteran and former U.S. Sen. Max Cleland joined the Democratic candidate for the 4th Congressional District, Charlie Brown, to unveil a new campaign ad for supporters last week. (For discussion of those issues, see R.V. Scheide’s report on the debate between Republican candidates for the 4th District’s congressional seat in this week’s Race to the Bottom.)

“What Charlie and I are, what all of us veterans are, is the over-the-hill gang,” said Cleland. “Been there, done that, gotten a few holes shot in our T-shirts.”

Brown has been stressing his connection to veterans—and he’s been donating 5 percent of campaign contributions to local veterans’ groups. Cleland joined the chorus. “National security isn’t just something that Charlie’s interested in,” he told the group. “It’s his family business.” He went on to stress not only Brown’s service (he is a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel), but that of his family. “'Support the troops’ isn’t a bumper sticker for the Browns,” said Cleland. “It’s a way of life.”

Cleland was a popular speaker with the attendees; his remarks were full of jokes about rank and services that were hilarious to the former service members in attendance. But eventually, Cleland got down to business.

“This is not about left and right,” Cleland said. “It’s about right and wrong. Charlie Brown knows the difference between the two.”

Brown himself broadened the approach when he addressed the group. “It’s time—and more than time—for a serious discussion of how we’re going to care for our veterans,” he said. “But moving beyond that issue, we need to ask, ‘What happened to the American dream?’ Those of us who have defended the American dream now can’t afford homes, can’t afford gas, can’t afford food.”

Nodding heads responded from the audience as Brown invited them to continue their service on another front. “We took an oath to serve and defend,” he said. “We should expect nothing less from our elected leaders.”