07/27/2006 04:04 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Curt Weldon Attacks the Uniform and the Veteran in it

by Taylor Marsh
originally posted at The Patriot Project


Going after a man's daughter; a little girl fighting for her life? I'm spee---wait, I'm getting ahead of myself.

We've learned to expect anything from Republicans these days. Remember Rep. Musgrave's little veteran photo op?

Look at their attacks on John Murtha. They've turned swiftboating into an art form, black art, that is. So whenever a Republican is in deep trouble, especially if he or she is facing a Democratic veteran, you can be sure they're going to go on the attack. That would be fine if the attacks were about substance, policy or the issues. But for today's Republican Party, attacking veterans, the uniform of the United States, is job one. Just look what Republicans did to the generals.

Democratic candidate Joe Sestak is their latest target. He's facing Curt Weldon, the Indiana Jones of the Republican Party.

... It's a scene out of an Indiana Jones movie - or an Indiana Jones parody:

A caravan of jeeps and heavy equipment crawls across the Iraqi desert, headed for a secret location on the banks of the Euphrates River.

Their mission: to dig 25 feet down into the riverbed and unearth concrete bunkers filled with chemical weapons produced by Saddam Hussein's regime and hidden before the outbreak of the Iraq war in 2003.

And who's that, dressed in a safari jacket and a pith helmet, supervising the dig?

None other than our own U.S. Rep. Curt Weldon (R., Pa.), leading a secret mission to unearth the Holy Grail of the war: the weapons of mass destruction that have eluded every other U.S. search team since our troops invaded three years ago. ...

Indiana Jones? No, it's Weldon

Talk about embarrassing; Curt Weldon should be the laughing stock of Pennsylvania. Instead, to bolster his sagging political fortunes, he's swiftboating a veteran.

John Kerry knows how it feels and has had Sestak's back from Day One. In fact, since Senator Kerry's own swiftboating experience in the 2004 presidential campaign, he's made it his personal mission to make sure this never happens again, to anyone. This is what Kerry had to say when I contacted him about the latest Sestak attacks:

"I'd like to know what these Republicans who never wore the uniform of our country have against those who did. I saw what they did to John McCain. I saw what they did to Max Cleland. I saw what they tried to do to Jack Murtha, and now they're trying the same sick tactics against Admiral Sestak. We've got to knock this garbage back forever. Never, never, never again. These Republican hacks just got on the battlefield with the wrong soldiers and we're going to make them regret it every step of the way. It's up to us to make sure this dog won't hunt anymore. No more lies, no more smears; this time we're not just going to defend our brother vet, we're making the Republicans pay."

Meet Representative Curt Weldon. The man who's taking on veteran Joe Sestak . Let's just say that the scales don't balance on the resume side of things. You've got Curt Weldon versus a 31-year veteran, former 3-star Navy admiral, Joe Sestak, who also has a doctorate from Harvard and has "commanded battleship groups during the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, served on the National Security Council (NSC) and revamped the Navy's strategy for winning wars in the post-Cold War era," according to The Hill News.

Does it count that Weldon is also running his own personal government employment agency for his family?

No wonder Curt was feeling, shall we say, desperate. But when desperation turns into an attack on a 5 year-old little girl, who just survived a battle with death, and who also happens to be Joe Sestak's daughter, I'd say Weldon's decency wagon has not only lost its bearings, but has veered into a ditch. Weldon thought it appropriate to bring Sestak's daughter into the political mix.

Sitting in the oncology ward at Children's National Medical Center on Jan. 19, retired Adm. Joe Sestak and his wife, Susan, awaited the doctors' verdict about the condition of their 5-year-old daughter, Alexandra.

She had been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor last summer and given three to nine months to live. The Sestaks lived for four months in the ward. They watched as their daughter survived three surgeries, and as she endured chemotherapy.

But that winter day, doctors told the Sestaks that Alexandra had done remarkably well and that, although the cancer could reemerge, she could resume living like a healthy girl.


Weldon attacked Sestak's decision to continue owning a home in Virginia while only renting in Pennsylvania and questioned why Sestak did not move back to Pennsylvania when he was working at the Pentagon. Weldon commutes from Pennsylvania each day.

Weldon also suggested Sestak should have sent his daughter to a hospital in Philadelphia or Delaware, rather than the Washington hospital. Sestak said that as soon as doctors give his daughter the all-clear, he'll buy in Pennsylvania. ...

Sestak"s battles -- naval, familial and political

What kind of man challenges a father's choices when his daughter is fighting for her life, all to make a political point?

Sestak fired back.

Unfortunately, "ethicially challenged" Curt Weldon was just getting started. Since attacking a veteran's courageous daughter didn't work, Weldon had to think of something else.

Visions of John McCain in 2000, Max Cleland being compared with Osama and Saddam, as well as the swiftboating "success" of John Kerry danced in Curt's head. Enter the push poll.

I could give you a long explanation, but Tom Ferrick of the Philadelphia Inquirer already has.

The nastiest invention in the increasingly nasty world of political campaigns is something called "push polls."

These are calls made to voters, ostensibly by public opinion pollsters, that ask loaded questions. An example: "Would you be more or less likely to vote for candidate John Smith if you knew he beat his wife?"

Your answer, of course, is "no." The caller may pretend to mark that reply down, but that's just a ruse. His sole purpose is to spread a nasty rumor that harms candidate Smith.

Push polls are bad - as in, evil - in three ways:

They are anonymous. The voters never know who paid for the "poll."

They are deceptive. The poll isn't a legit public opinion poll at all. It is a way of spreading rumors.

They are ugly. Often, the information they seek to spread is false or vastly distorted.

Push polls began to surface in the 1990s. The most famous was one used in the 2000 presidential campaign when campaign operatives, allegedly for George Bush, devised one to stop the surging candidacy of U.S. Sen. John McCain. They launched a push poll in South Carolina, right before the Republican primary there, that asked: "Would you be more likely or less likely to vote for John McCain for president if you knew he had fathered an illegitimate black child?"

The allegation was a lie. But it did serious damage to the McCain candidacy. To add to the irony, McCain and his wife had recently adopted a Bangladeshi orphan. ...

Dastardly push polls need to get heave-ho

Perfect! Curt Weldon's kind of politics.

Here's the question voters were asked:

Would you be more or less likely to vote for Sestak if you knew he was (in so many words) a tool of the trial lawyers, pro-abortion, soft on terrorism, and a guy who let Osama bin Laden get away?

Dastardly push polls need to get heave-ho

A former Senior Advisor from the Kerry campaign said to me yesterday that he was "fairly certain that if Osama bin Laden had swum by the Admiral's ship in the Indian Ocean, I'm pretty sure Joe would have caught him."

Now here comes the good part. Weldon's people said the company who ordered the push polling, Venture Data, don't even work for his campaign. Here's Ferrick's take on it: Venture Data does not appear on Weldon's campaign reports as a vendor, but a company called Progressive Opinion Strategies L.L.C. does. It got $17,000 from Weldon's campaign committee in March. The clips reveal that Progressive and Venture are often aligned in polling operations.

See how this works? Weldon gets to say he didn't fund the despicable Bush-like polling question, because it's technically true, while paying for it through another agent. Now whether this is actually push polling or simply "push questioning" is for someone else to decide. But I'd offer it's just plain wrong, immoral and dishonest. But hiding reality is a specialty of the Republicans.

But don't turn that dial, because the swiftboating of Joe Sestak isn't over. After all, Curt's got over three more months until November, so it's time to get busy.

Last Thursday, the PA GOP released this statement.

Republican State Committee Executive Director Scott Migli today questioned Joe Sestak, Democratic candidate in Pennsylvania's 7th Congressional District, for his repeated violations of federal law and U.S. Navy regulations as it relates to appropriate conduct for the wearing of military uniforms. Those violations include wearing his uniform while engaged in campaign activities and wearing a uniform that displays a rank above what the grade at which he retired from service.

"Joe Sestak's improper use of the military uniform for partisan campaign activities demonstrates a lack of respect for the uniform," said Migli. "You would never catch a veteran like Senator John McCain, or even Senator John Kerry for that matter, wearing their military uniform while on the campaign trail or inflating the rank at which they retired. The fact that Joe Sestak would stoop this low shows how desperate he is for attention."


The Republican Party is telling a 31-year Navy veteran and retired admiral that he has no respect for the uniform?

Rep. Weldon, prepare for more incoming, including from some of your own, Republicans, that is.

Rocco Polidoro, a Republican co-chair of Veterans for Sestak, and the Commander of a local veterans group said, "Obviously, Curt Weldon needs to be educated on the rules and regulations of the military. This comes as no surprise considering that Curt has never worn the uniform of the Unites States military. As a Republican, I can safely say that Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan would be turning in their graves if they knew that Curt Weldon would be using this as another desperate attempt to swift boat a man who served his country for 31 years."

Jerry Gavin, a member of the Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 67, Delaware County said, "Former Vice Admiral Sestak, who is a member of the Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 67, Delaware County, participated in the Marcus Hook Memorial Day events with other members of the Delaware County Chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America. He was also asked to be a speaker and to read the names of the Navy service members from Delaware County who were killed in Vietnam. As someone who was myself wounded in Vietnam, it put tears in my eyes to hear Admiral Sestak read the names of those who had given the ultimate sacrifice. For anyone to criticize him for participating in non-political Memorial Day activities is deeply upsetting."

According to the U.S. Navy Uniform Regulations:

U.S. Navy Uniform Regulations, 1401.3.b(2)

(2) Former Members of the Armed Forces. Unless discussed in DOD Directive

1334.1 or Title 10 U.S. Code Sec. 772, former members who served honorably during a war and whose most recent service was terminated under honorable conditions, may wear the uniform of the highest grade held during their service only on the following occasions and during travel related to those occasions.

(a) Military funerals, memorial services, weddings and inaugurals.

Now let me direct you to a conservative blog that has picked this story up and run with it, using tags like "corruption" and "stolen valor." The first picture in the comments section is of veteran John Kerry's 1971 testifying before the Senate. It gets worse from there.

americaprd: Wow. Can any vets tell me how big a deal this is? I seem to recall there being a case of a retired or active duty officer who took his own life when given a hard time about wearing a ribbon or award he was not entitled to. Any chance Sestak will repent? How pissed off will this make vets?

.cnI redruM: No chance he'll ever repent. He'd use the uniform as toilet paper if he wasn't using it as a campaign prop instead.

coop: Only stuff I've found has Sestak listed as a Vice Admiral - that's a three-star. Unless someone has some different info, that part of the press release is wrong.

I can't imagine any military member THAT senior and in a public setting trying to fake a rank.

americaprd: The gap between two-star admirals and three-star admirals is the three-star admirals have a better knowledge of what to kiss and when.

taxesareforever: If it's a federal offense, why isn't he arrested? Because he is a democrat.

beltfed308: We need an acronym for someone who joins the military just for the political points. Easy. MINO=Military in name only.

John Kerry's statement comes back, a haunting message to any Democratic veteran who dares challenge a Republican:"I'd like to know what these Republicans who never wore the uniform of our country have against those who did. ..."

Weldon's got more troubles, because Sestak is out fundraising him, too.

Democratic veteran Joe Sestak just wants another opportunity to serve his country. Frankly, he doesn't quite get all the vitriol; the audacity to challenge a United States veteran's honor, regardless of party, first using his daughter, then the push polling charge about letting Osama escape; topped off by accusing him of disrespect for wearing the uniform while honoring fallen heroes. James Boyce of the Patriot Project had a discussion with Sestak during the YearlyKos convention this past June. He reminded Sestak that "the Navy doesn't hand out Purple Hearts like jelly beans." That obviously got Sestak to thinking. Republicans will say anything to harm their opponent, truth be damned. James then reminded him that the Republicans came after John Kerry the same way. Their whole campaign strategy is attack - attack - attack. Sestak gets it now. Welcome to political warfare, Admiral.

I also spoke with Rocco Polidoro yesterday, the Republican co-chair of Veterans for Sestak quoted above, who is completely incensed by what Curt Weldon is doing to Joe Sestak. "He has every right to wear it," said Polidoro, talking about the uniform. They were honoring veterans who had served their country with honor. Then Polidoro got personal: "Where is Weldon's uniform? Why didn't Weldon serve during the '60s. There was a war on; there was a draft. ... He wasn't drafted. Why?"

Someone should ask Curt Weldon those questions. His answers matter.