I wish Max Cleland had shown this kind of fire from his interview at Salon during his 2002 campaign – he might still be in the senate right now. I also wish I had done more than just one morning of making calls for him on that campaign. He is a genuinely good guy, with more honesty and integrity than a dozen ordinary politicians. The attack ads from Saxby Chamblis that compared him with Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein as an enemy of America after Cleland voted with the Republicans on almost every Homeland Security and Iraq issue was the most reprehensible bit of campaigning I have ever seen.
In 2001, early in the Bush administration when it became clear that tax cuts for the wealthy was amongst his highest priority, I wrote a letter opposing them. I sent it to the White House, and CC’d Zell Miller, Rep. John Lewis and Max Cleland. I expected no responses, but 2 or 3 weeks later I received a letter from Senator Cleland, responding point by point to mine and clearly not a form letter. Even though he ultimately voted for the tax cuts and I wish he hadn’t, I know that he heard my opinions and factored them in.
Now when I see partisan Republicans claiming that his criticisms of the administration and their non-cooperation with the 9-11 Commission are driven by his anger over the 2002 election, I wonder how much this guy is going to have to take. He’s a straight up guy who did his duty, volunteered to fight in Viet Nam and left three limbs there (while our current warmongers were ducking duty in one way or another). He voted with the Republicans and got crucified by them anyway. Now he speaks his conscience and states facts that are plainly evident, and is accused of being a bitter partisan. Don’t believe it. I’m paying attention to those who make this accusation, and putting them on the list of lying rooster suckers who I will never believe.