Nathan Fletcher released an ad called “Character.” Handpicked veterans call out the leading mayoral candidate, Councilmember Carl DeMaio, for not having served in the military. The well-rehearsed veterans, one after another, said: “Shame on you.” Given this ad, you might be surprised to learn DeMaio has never expressed anything but admiration for Fletcher’s military service.
So why would Marine veteran Fletcher attack DeMaio with a non-sequitur about his own military service? DeMaio is guilty of two great sins: 1) leading every mayoral poll for a year, and 2) criticizing the record, policies, and platitudes of the Self-Anointed One.
I understand Fletcher has now scrubbed this ad of the phrase “shame on you,” but it still criticizes DeMaio for not having served in the military. In this great news segment on KUSI, political consultant and Marine veteran John Dadian points out that the phrase “Shame on you” crosses the line. There are many great public servants and leaders who have not served in the military. By the way, I would highly recommend watching the news segment. It is like watching history — before Fletcher tried to revise it.
Maybe the paternalistic Fletcher only says “Shame on you” to those who meet two preconditions: 1) They have not served AND 2) they have the temerity to criticize Fletcher. Some who criticize the Self-Anointed One have lifelong medical conditions, which would preclude them from ever being able to serve in the military. Others may have been openly gay, and couldn’t have served in the military even if they wanted to — until 2010. Others yet simply understood that we live in a free society. They chose to use their talents to do countless wonderful things outside of military service. Parenthetically, Marines specifically and veterans generally who criticize Fletcher are incredibly easy to come by. Fletcher, answer the question: Shame on them too?
Fletcher changes his campaign slogan weekly. Good to know what his new one is. It’s going to make for one Hell of a yard sign. It will read: “Fletcher for Mayor — Shame on You.”
Let us put aside the overwhelming narcissism of anyone who thinks their entire character is beyond reproach for any one reason. Let us instead examine the logic of unquestioned valor washes away all past, current and future sins. That is the entire logic of Fletcher’s “Character” commercial: that someone who served nobly on the battlefield could not possibly be unscrupulous in other aspects of life. There are people who have bravely survived cancer with dignity and kept their families going while they went through Hell. Is it impossible to fathom that a person such as this might only be human, in addition to being superhuman on the cancer battlefield? That such a person might even construct a shady midnight deal in the legislature? There are valiant Holocaust survivors who saved others first and then themselves. After the World War II, did all these people combined not exhibit one characterological flaw collectively in all their family, business and countless other dealings in life — for the rest of their lives? Doubtful.
I am going to vote for Carl DeMaio because I vote based on policy — not biography — which is just icing on the cake. For the record though, I prefer DeMaio’s compelling biography as well.
But what do I know? I never served in the military. Shame on me.