Haven’t served in the Military? Fletcher says: “Shame on you”

Ryan Purdy Ryan Purdy 44 Comments


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.


Comments 44

  1. Mr Purdy correctly lays the smackdown on Nathan Fletcher for his misguided offensive commercial. I chose not to serve in the military, I guess that makes me ineligible to serve in an elected capacity in Mr. Fletcher’s warped logic.

    Shame on you Nathan.

    Expecting to hear Ms. Thoma’s response in 3, 2, 1…

  2. as a disabled person i found this comment to be disingenuous! i found it offensive to those who cant serve, yet wish they could! i am voting Bob Filner! Screw both Richpublicans!

  3. Here’s what I posted on my Facebook page yesterday…oddly reminiscent of Ryan’s article.


    Nathan Fletcher should be ASHAMED of his latest campaign ad. Just because someone hasn’t served in the military is no cause for being “SHAMED” by your campaign. I never served in the military. Should I be ashamed of myself? Is that what you’re saying? That only those who serve in the military are qualified to do anything?

    Nathan, I respect your service but your campaign tactics are marking a new low in San Diego politics.

  4. For me it is relatively simple. The City of San Diego is an 10,000 person entity with a MYRIAD (a 5 minute count got me to 40 and I am sure that doesn’t even crack the surface) “lines of business”. 5 unions represent workers. One has to navigate through the differences between general funds and enterprise funds and what is always a murky line for what should or shouldn’t be done at their intersection. Etc. etc. etc.

    Nathan served his country with courage and honor. He is a good guy. I like him. A lot. But managing the city – which is what we need under strong Mayor form of government – is fundamentally different than managing a small group of marines in hostile territory. Not harders, tougher, more difficulty just DIFFERENT.

    Now I am not sure voters “get this” (their loss) or care but what is so clear is that the city is in desperate need of someone who will MANAGE the enterprise and has at least some knowledge of how to do so.

    Nathan would immensely up his standing with at least this voter if we knew his “Adminral Froman” would be. I always thought the biggest loss ever for San Diego was the inability of the current administration to make things work so that Ronne would have stuck around. But as of yet we don’t have a clue how a youngish adult, with no managerial experience of more than 20-30 marines intends to walk in and hire a senior staff, manage down into the depths of the organization, and institute significant enterprise-wide change in a bureaucracy that has essentially been left alone to run its own aslymun for close to 20 years.

  5. @Ryan Purdy – i have no problem nor concern that you did not serve in the military. However, for future reference and for protocol, please don’t use the term “former” Marine. Once a Marine, always a Marine. The proper term is Marine Veteran.

  6. (then) General George Washington warned us of this when he addressed his ( rightfully disenfranchised) officers not to march on Congress to demand back pay (duly owed them). His speech was reenacted here at 16:00: http://youtu.be/aaJQ76Gql0g

    “… like sheep to the slaughter. You will NOT march on Philadelphia. You are men of HONOR. You know that if any army be allowed to terrorize civilian government, for political ends, the future of this country will be lost in darkness. ”

    I invite you to watch this true American hero and compare his rhetoric to Mr Fletcher’s advertisement.

  7. Nathan’s Marine veteran friends must feel proud to have fought alongside Nathan…some of them making the ultimate sacrifice…so that Nathan can use their sacrifices and the memory of what they accomplished to boost his poll numbers.

    Talk about wanting a job pretty bad.

    So those keeping count at home, Nathan’s campaign has exploited:
    1. Republican colleagues
    2. Veterans
    3. Women
    4. His adopted kids
    5. Local executives
    6. Friends

    Did I miss anyone?

    Here’s an idea…how about come up with a plan for what you would do as mayor? Maybe one more detailed than “more bike paths”? How about actually talk about what specifically you do and do not support?

  8. Did I miss something? Nowhere in the piece did anyone say that someone who didn’t serve in the armed forces should be ashamed. Keep twisting until you can make an argument, kids. Mr. Krvaric I agree, shame on you.

  9. I fervently disagree with the poster. First of all on the premise. Nathan Fletcher DID NOT say “Shame on you” for not serving in the military. Nor did any of those veterans say that. What they did say is shame on Carl for lying, and attacking Nathan’s Character.

    The ad obviously says that one can disagree on positions but that his character was proven on the battlefield. Which is fair of a Marine Combat Veteran to say.

    What is really objectionable is when people who haven’t served try to turn this against him by bringing up the sacrifice of his fallen comrades and saying he is using it for political gain. Now that is disgusting as well as unpatriotic.

    I served as a Non-Commissioned Officer in the Marine Corps during 3 of Nathan’s 10 years of service. I am a combat veteran of the Iraq war, there is nothing in his remarks that dishonor the service of he, or anyone he served with alive or fallen.

    He brought distinction and honor to our Corps in his service, in the finest tradition of the United States Marine Corps and the U.S. Naval Service. To challenge the character of individual who served with honor our armed forces and specifically in this case the Marine Corps, by extent brings discredit to the Marine Corps and that should be something any citizen should be absolutely ashamed of.

    The fact that Carl DeMaio did not choose to serve in the Military puts him in the same boat as many Americans who have not. Pointing that out, is simply a statement of fact and record.

  10. Hmmm. I served in the military as a “pork chop” — a navy Supply Officer. Got near a combat situation only once in Vietnam — and that’s a stretch. Mostly I was safe on board a ship while twice deployed in the Pacific during Vietnam (8 months at a stretch). Then served a tour assigned to the 32nd St Naval Base — again, safe work.

    Question is, should I feel “ashamed” that I didn’t participate in combat?

    Don’t laugh — I’ve had vets (who oppose my limited government viewpoints) who are offended (or feign indignation) that I even include that military background in my resume’ on my blog.

    FULL DISCLOSURE: I served only 4 years active duty. Staying in the Navy Reserves for another 22 years. Retired as a Commander. Big whoop.

  11. Post

    John Dadian: Thank you for your service. I do believe people should be referred to by the correct titles. So perhaps in this spirit of accuracy, not revising history, either Thor’s Assistant or myself can correct the reference to you.
    Agreed and done. –TA

  12. Regardless, he’s still making an argument out of this: “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”.

    If it exists, can you kindly provide a link to the ad? I can’t seem to find anything but the original.

    Maybe Purdy should revise his posting if his premise is compromised.

    Personally, I think what the ad is really saying is that people who use his military service to attack his character (reference the recent UT editorial comparing leaving the republican party to leaving men on the battlefield) should be ashamed. I agree.

  13. Post

    Will Rodriguez-Kennedy: Thank you for your service. With regard to your opinion on the ad “Character”, it’s like we literally didn’t watch the same ad. If you watch the KUSI news segment that I linked to above, you will find a lot of people, including Marine Veteran John Dadian, do not interpret Fletcher’s ad as creatively and charitably as you do.

  14. This is silly.
    So everyone who has been in the military and been shot at automatically has strong character in every other situation in life no matter what they do?

    Nathan is the one bringing up his character and equating it to his military service. Specifically his time in combat. In effect…almost quite literally,he is saying Carl has none since he didn’t join the military.

    I’m attacking Nathan’s character because he lied to me personally on a phone call in his role as Assemblyman, threw all his Republican colleagues under the bus for political gain, and is using a version of events that are inaccurate to describe his time as a Republican.

    His defense of his character is that he served in the military during combat. Since that really has nothing to do with anything anyone has ever criticized him over…he is, without question, exploiting his military record for political gain. If anyone is OK with that…so be it. I find his behavior since he left the Republican Party to be deplorable.

    The bigger problem is the production he is putting on that he thinks is a campaign. It is all show and zero substance. We have no idea where he stands on much of anything or what he will do as mayor. We do know exactly what DeMaio will do when elected. He has specifically spelled it out and defended his uncompromising position when it comes to city business and he did it long before voters go to the polls. He is defending his views and letting the cards fall where they may. Well…that takes character.

  15. There may be some confusion over versions of the ad. The original ad had someone say “Carl DeMaio never served his country” and the same speaker a bit later say, “Shame on you,” followed by another saying the s(h)ame thing.

    It could be argued that given the editing, the first speaker’s reference to Shame was about DeMaio’s attacks on Fletcher, not about his non-military service. In fairness, that interpretation might be a stretch. The implication from the ad, whether intended by the Fletcher camp or not, in our view was connecting the lack of military service to the shame comments.

    Again, it could be Fletcher didn’t intend it as such. Given the ad has changed, an argument can be made that it was changed for a reason. No?

  16. Nathan should be careful overplaying the military service makes a great politiician approach. Didn’t Duke Cunningham leverage his military experience into a political career? Fine leader he turned out to be. Didn’t Nathan work for Duke?

    Erik, In my opinion I don’t think we’ve had the type of mayor / administration you describe since the days of Pete Wilson. We did have a strong, focused leader who was not mayor – Jack McGrory. He knew the city structure inside and out (still does), and he manipulated it to keep the politicians happy while pushing his and his employees’ agenda. And we’re now paying the price for that.

  17. While all this stuff is flying back and forth, Bob Filner is laughing himself sick. Let’s put the emotion aside of Fletcher abandoning the Republican Party and focus on the REAL threat, Bob Filner. The Dems will back him to the hilt. Remember that Bob Filner is the candidate who is always underestimated and who always wins. Forget about Fletcher and focus on knocking off Filner, the real threat.

  18. Oh yeah — the highly paid campaign consultants were SHOCKED to find that some would interpret their carefully edited video campaign ad repeatedly saying “Shame on you” as a denigration of Carl’s decision not to enter the military. Fletchers’ gurus are TOTALLY BLINDSIDED by this interpretation of their workmanship.


  19. I think at the end of the day Fletcher will be judged by his maker on the same principles and rules of morality the rest of us will be.

    Question is, how well can he live with it when all is said and done?

  20. Actually I envy Fletcher. When you have no scruples, principles or guiding philosophy, you have a HUGE political advantage over your more principled opponents such as Carl DeMaio.

    The truth is, opportunists such as Fletcher are usually the odds-on favorite to win such contests. They can change allegiances and policy positions at will — whatever it takes to win. And yes, for them, winning IS everything.

    But perhaps these are different times. Especially with our surprisingly knowledgeable local electorate (at least the ones that vote in June).

    We shall see.

  21. Jack McGrory was, to perhaps stretch the anology past breaking given the overall topic of this thread, just following orders from the council majority.

    Carl has had the benefit of about 8 years of thinking DEEPLY about the organization – both outside and in. He has managed a workforce of close to 100. Not as big as I would like but hey, I liked Steve Francis for his management experience and look how far that got him/me.

    Nathan’s play book is an old one in San Diego. It has been successful. Time will tell whether the changing demographics in the region matter or whether the veterans card still is a really important one in the city.

  22. Richard,

    DeMaio is principled? Really? Please explain his support for the billion dollar tax increase, not even voted on by the public, that may result in a Convention Center expansion.

  23. Dan Holstein’s comment = win

    Anyone who thinks that Fletcher is now an equal enemy of all things Republican as Bob Filner only proves that their own partisanship disconnects them from what it means to be a part of the right-of-center movement.

    Also, I’d be willing to bet that most of the DeMaio partisans who now criticize Fletcher for his words would have defended those same words had they come from Duncan D. Hunter, or any other veteran service member running as a Republican.

  24. Actually, McGrory was NOT just following orders – he pretty much got whatever he wanted passed by the gullible city council. The two BIG con jobs he successfully pulled off were:

    1. The retroactive pension increases which, oddly enough, he profited from immensely.

    2. The Charger deal — including the infamous “ticket guarantee.” He fooled the city council and mayor into supporting the deal by providing a bogus spreadsheet that showed the renovated stadium selling out all 70,000 seats for EVERY game for 20 straight years — including the lightly attended exhibition games. I think I still have a copy of that masterpiece. Bernie Madoff would have been proud.

    It is a sad commentary that most local city politicians lack the knowledge, tools, or even simple skepticism to aggressively challenge their City Managers — and these managers are the ones I hold most responsible for our cities’ pension missteps.

  25. Facts,

    That would be the one, but there is one very important fact to consider:

    Fletcher isn’t being supported by those who would benefit most from the Convention Center expansion.

    DeMaio has based his whole campaign about his ability to fight against special interests and end back-room deals and then he makes a back-room deal to give the biggest special interest in this City (developers and builders) a $1 billion gift of public funds.

  26. Everyone including Mayor Sanders, Councilman DeMaio, and Assemblyman Fletcher are on board to privately increase our hotel taxes through a “Special Tax” without a public vote. The only opposition to the private tax raise came from Congressman Bob Filner and Councilman David Alvarez.


    Link to video of the City Council Hearing of May 7, 2012, Item 150 Convention Center Facilities District (CCFD), Special Tax, and Validation Lawsuit.

    For Congressman Filner’s public comments please see Video Start Time of 33 Minutes to 37 Minutes.

    Linked below are our public comments for a parallel alternative 5 percent increase to our TOT (annual $78 million), just in case the Validation to initiate a “Special Tax” is not approved by the Courts. Also, after a 5-years trial period, the current 2 percent Tourist Marketing District (TMD) expires at the end of this year, and may not be legal to continue.


  27. Alger – Back room deal? There have been a whole slew of Council meetings with the convention center expansion on the docket. Councilmembers voted on each issue in the light of day after proper 72 hour notice as required under state law.

    Nathan Fletcher is the king of the late night deal with his bill on redevelopment. The fun part of that deal is that the various participants couldn’t get their facts straight after the fact about how long they kept it from the public before introducing/passing the legislation. http://www.voiceofsandiego.org/fact/article_6fe10b76-2f03-11e0-b4d2-001cc4c03286.html

  28. By the way I heard these remarks in response to some of the posts here on Rostra from Veterans who are Republicans.

    “It is really disheartening to see how some Republican leaders are treating Nathan. It’s like they only value our service if we toe the party line.” -Active Duty Navy

    “Rostra gets on my nerves” -Marine Veteran

    “Did any of these people even serve?!? Who would equate a Carl DeMaio’s character to any Marine?! WTF! That is so insulting!”
    -Second Marine Veteran

    Just wanted you guys to see how some Veteran’s view your comments.

  29. Aynd,

    If DeMaio never met with developers and builders before the open Council vote, then why won’t he answer the question of whether he had those meetings? That question has been asked, but not answered, in many of the debates. More importantly, open session or not, DeMaio voted for a billion dollar tax increase and to make matters worse, also voted to bypass a public vote.

  30. Uhhhh, Will, as a rabid Democrat and a Republican hater, you posting comments from anonymous Republican veterans is highly suspect.

    Oh, wait — now I remember. We should NEVER question the integrity of a veteran. They/you are inherently SO superior to everyone else.

    Sure, like Fletcher’s former employer — Randy “Duke” Cunningham. A real war hero (really, he WAS!).

    No one should have ever questioned Duke’s integrity and honesty when he went into politics. Certainly Fletcher didn’t!

    BTW, how’d that work out?

  31. Post

    Dan Holstein: People beating up on each other in primaries, rarely translates to wounds in the general. I think too many people buy into the theory it does. While this is technically a non partisan race, we all know who the (D), (R)s and (DTS) are. The politically morphous DTS vs. the fiscally conservative (R) is not intramural fighting.

    D Morton: You’re wrong. I don’t doubt DeMaio partisans would largely back a veteran (R) who made tawdry Fletcher-esque comments vs. a liberal Dem in a general election. However, that’s when your given an unpleasant choice in life. And even then, most DeMaio partisans would never excuse the actual “Shame on you” act.

    Will, I have polled three Marine veterans and they all LOVE Rostra. I have no doubt my poll is more scientific than yours. Just wanted you to know how some veterans view your comments, Will.

  32. Oh Richard – if that is the case where are all those former politicians calling for Jack’s head? They are not cause he would tell the press precisely what I did, that he was doing what they asked of him. They were not fooled – they knew precisely what they were doing.

  33. Will, Rostra may get on their nerves but they’re visiting the site and reading the content…obviously they see value in what others are saying. Otherwise why even bother to check Rostra out?

  34. The first itaration of the spot bungled its message and ticked off others in the process. If you didn’t know about the squabble between Fletcher and DeMaio, you’d think Fletcher was putting himselve above people who don’t serve. You don’t have to serve in the military to serve your country. People who serve are not more patriotic than people who don’t. We stateside job creators are no more or less valuable than any other American. As someone who’s paid the bill all lot of federal bullets and who comes from a military familiy, I was extremely turned off by this ad, particularly by its lack of humility.

  35. Dan Holstein, the current threat is that DeMaio ends up in a run-off with Fletcher. The “left” in San Diego who voted for Filner will vote for Fletcher since his views are squishy and vague. However, if DeMaio ends up in a run-off with Filner, a higher percentage of Fletcher supporters will vote for DeMaio rather than Filner in a runoff. This would give DeMaio him a better chance of winning.

  36. @Richard Rider please explain what principles Carl DeMaio was demonstrating when he is alleged to have threatened Ralph Denney with castration?

    Apparently DeMaio is fond of the phrase “I’m going to chop your balls off”

    As for your service thank you, I try not to compare a combat veteran vs. a non-combat veteran. In my eyes we are on the same team in the end.

    @Michael saying “I served in the Marine Corps” or touting one’s military record is to be expected by anyone who has the courage to put their life on the line for God, Country and Corps. Let me know when that happens in the case of some of these detractors.

  37. I don’t remember Ronald Reagan having served in the military. I do remember that John Kerry did, or at least pretended to. Does it matter?

  38. Burbank,

    Serving in the military used to be very important to Republicans. You are after all the patriotic party, are you not? Despite all the comments here to the contrary, I guess not all principles are inviolate, are they?

  39. Burbank,
    Reagan served in the military from 1937 to 1945. Check his bio.

    Alger, it is not Nathan’s service that concerns anyone. Nor is any criticizing it. It is the lack of integrity he has shown since being elected and that he displays during this race for mayor. A lack of integrity totaly separate and cannot be compared with nor does it have anything to do with his time in the Marine Corps.

    It is a legit complaint and concern that you are dishonestly trying to counter by confusing it with an argument that has nothing to do with the actual concern or complaint. And you know it.

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