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Max Cleland - Targeted For Destruction

Updated on January 17, 2010
Max Cleland: An American Hero
Max Cleland: An American Hero

Max Cleland

Max Cleland is an American Hero.  A decorated Vietnam war veteran and former United States Senator from Georgia, Cleland was targeted by and defeated by the Republican Spin Machine in favor of Saxby Chambliss.  Instead of using debate and persuasion, the Republican Party used fear and scare tactics to take down Cleland.

Captain Cleland Served In Vietnam And Was Awarded A Silver and Bronze Star For Valor In Action
Captain Cleland Served In Vietnam And Was Awarded A Silver and Bronze Star For Valor In Action
Cleland Lost Three Of His Limbs In Vietnam
Cleland Lost Three Of His Limbs In Vietnam

Max Cleland Profile

Max Cleland was born in Atlanta in 1942 and grew up in Lithonia. He graduated from Stetson University and received a Master's Degree from Emory University. After graduating college, Cleland served in the Army during the Vietnam War. Cleland attained the rank of Captain.

During the Vietnam War, Cleland was awarded the Silver Star and Bronze Star for valorous action in combat. In April, 1968, Cleland was a Battalion Signal Officer during the Battle of Khe Sanh. Cleland was ordered to set up a radio relay station on a hill. Cleland was flown to Hill 471. While getting off the helicopter Cleland reached down to pick up a grenade he believed had popped off his flak jacket and instead was a live grenade. The grenade exploded and shredded both his legs and one of his arms. He was twenty five years old at the time.

Because of the severity of his injuries, Cleland lost both his legs and his right forearm. Cleland spent time in a VA hospital and then returned home to Georgia. From 1971 to 1975 Cleland served in the Georgia Senate advocating for veterns rights. From 1977 to 1981, Cleland served as the administrator of the United States Veterans Administration and later served 14 years as the Secretary of State of Georgia.

In 1996, Cleland ran and won a seat in the United States Senate replacing Sam Nunn. In the Senate, Cleland was considered a moderate Democrat who was pro-choice and pro-environment but supported the War on Terror and many of the Republican fiscal policies under George

Virtually Unknown In Georgia, Saxby Chambliss Used The Politics Of Fear To Defeat Cleland
Virtually Unknown In Georgia, Saxby Chambliss Used The Politics Of Fear To Defeat Cleland

The Chambliss Attack Ad

Chambliss Defends The Ad

Targeted For Destruction

In Cleland's bid for re-election, he ran against Republican Saxby Chambliss.  Cleland, though considered a moderate who would support Republican ideas he agreed with, was targeted because he expressed concern about the Bush Administration's War handling of the War on Terror, even though he voted in favor of giving George Bush the power to engage the war.

In this election the Republicans went all out to defeat Cleland.  In what was their universal strategy in the Congressional elections of 2002, the Republicans tainted Cleland as soft on national security.   In short, they called Max Cleland a coward who was unable to protect the Country.  Chambliss released a press statement claiming that Cleland had done too little in defense of the Country.  George Bush flew to Georgia three times in a month to campaign for the Republcian candidate.

The most egregrious attack was the Chambliss Ad questioning Max Cleland's courage. The ad ties Cleland to Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden.  The ad was so egregious that fellow Republicans John McCain and Chuck Hagel denounced the ads and called for their removal.  Chambliss was 54% of the vote and defeated Cleland.  

The Republican Spin Machine At Work:  Two Men Who Avoid Vietnam At All Costs Defeat A Man Who Lost Three Limbs In Vietnam By Calling Him An Unpatriotic Coward
The Republican Spin Machine At Work: Two Men Who Avoid Vietnam At All Costs Defeat A Man Who Lost Three Limbs In Vietnam By Calling Him An Unpatriotic Coward

The Machine

In a campaign where two men who didn't bother to go to Vietnam (George Bush, who defended Texas in the Air National Guard the few times he showed up, and Saxby Chambliss, who claimed he had a bad knee) attacked the courage and patriotism of a man who went to Vietnam and lost three limbs, there is much to learn. First, the campaign is a prime example of how the Republican Spin Machine works. It is a no holds barred ethically lacking machine. The truth is only told if convenient or will be spun to the point where it is no longer recognized. Second, good people don't deserve this. Max Cleland is an American Hero. Since the age of twenty five he has been confined to a wheelchair and still decided to serve the Country. Disagree with his policies sure, but attack his patriotism and courage because he disagreed with the President on one vote and used the politics of fear and terror to destroy his career is too far.


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    • bgpappa profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Sacramento, California

      Well Said And Thanks for the comment.

    • profile image

      Patti Greer 

      9 years ago

      Max is a true American Hero and is so admired by many. Of course he voted in favor of George Bush going to war. Who would of ever thought that all the

      facts presented by the Bush admin. was fabricated. The coward here is not

      Max but Saxby Chambliss. He claimed bad knees to get out of the Viet Nam War but he continued playing "tennis." Thank you Max Cleland for your service to our country and your fight for Veterans. I will neve understand how an American hero that fought for his country cound be replaced by a draft dodger.

    • bgpappa profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Sacramento, California

      Thank you. The story tells itself; at least the story of his service. Him and McCain, true American Heroes, and each destoryed by the machine in 2000 and 2002 respectively.

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 

      9 years ago from Chicago

      It is indeed terrible that politics has sunk to personal deconstructionism. I admire Max and you told his story well.

    • bgpappa profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Sacramento, California

      Wow, very interesting insight from someone who has been there. Thank you for your comment and more importantly, thank you for your service.

    • trooper22 profile image


      9 years ago from Chicago

      This is an Outstanding example of what has become of politics in the United States.  Since 1964 and the Civil Rights Act the Rebublican Party ceased to represent the Constitution and began a frontal assualt on every fundemental right that it represents.  The party of Lincoln has been hi-jacked by the small minded and lazy (yes lazy, to enslave other humans to work your fields is LAZY) slave owners that he fought so ardently against.  If you want proof, look no further than the last election returns.  Every single state that went for McCain was a former Slave State...Every One.

      The Civil War is still raging.

      I was thrown our of my VFW because I supported Obama.  Ironically the person that caused this to happen was not a Veteran and not a member of the post, but he was supported by memebers.  I am a 17 year veteran of the Army and served in Iraq during Cheney's little Oil grab.  I also served on the East/West German Border during the Cold war, and also FYROM.  But I was tossed out because I defended my right to vote against a bunch Fox washed idiots most of whom have never seen the wrong end of slingshot much less a war zone.


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