Political Animal


May 30, 2011 11:15 AM Worst. Memorial Day Message. Ever.

By Steve Benen

Reader R.P. forwarded me a Memorial Day message sent out by Kevin DeWine, the chairman of the Ohio Republican Party. It starts off with a sentiment that’s easy to agree with.

“As we gather with family to enjoy Memorial Day weekend at ball games and barbeques, let us not forget the generations of Americans who have fought to preserve our rights and liberties here at home. Their sacrifices are woven into the fabric of America and will forever define us as a nation.”

So far, so good. But DeWine couldn’t leave well enough alone.

“Here in Ohio, we must continue to defend liberty in a very different kind of struggle. Ohioans have the opportunity to preserve their rights when it comes to choosing their own health care. Democracy affords us the choice of accepting or fighting back to prevent against a $1 trillion government takeover of our nation’s health care system.

“You can download the Health Care Freedom Amendment petition by clicking here. As you go to events this weekend in honor of our Armed Forces and the sacrifices made by generations of courageous Americans, I hope you will consider taking the petition with you and circulating it to your friends and family.”

Seriously? Are we really to believe that American veterans who paid with their lives did so to protect insurance companies’ ability to screw over consumers?

DeWine’s message is obviously dishonest — the Affordable Care Act isn’t a “government takeover,” and it doesn’t cost $1 trillion — but what’s tasteless about the message is the timing. It’s ostensibly a Memorial Day message, honoring the fallen during a time of war, but the subject line reads, “Help Stop Obamacare.”

Worse, this Republican leader wants people to annoy their friends and family with far-right nonsense as they observe Memorial Day, as if that’s an appropriate way to recognize the holiday.

Even by GOP standards, this is cheap. There are plenty of ways to honor fallen American servicemen and women, but this shameless partisan message isn’t one of them.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


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  • davidp on May 30, 2011 11:26 AM:

    Is the American voter going to put up with this stuff forever? When is someone going to stand up and say "Have you no decency, sir?" That would be an entirely appropriate response to this revolting statement.

  • Jim M on May 30, 2011 11:36 AM:

    Even worse, vets' health care is provided by you-know-who. So this boob is saying that vets fought and get gov't health care so we can avoid getting gov't health care. Freedom isn't free, you know. Or something.

  • martin on May 30, 2011 11:45 AM:

    If the petition calls for giving us all the same socialist medical care the military gets, sign me up!

  • Oh my on May 30, 2011 11:46 AM:

    If they didn't cheapen the sacrifices of Americans, they wouldn't be Republicans.

  • dj spellchecka on May 30, 2011 11:46 AM:

    i am reader r.p., and here was my response to the email
    as a g.i. might say, what a bunch of fucking horseshit, kevin....

    vets died to preserve the rights of insurance companies to screw people over....?

    this is shameless even by the standards of the current gop

    happy memorial day

  • Arlington BigFish on May 30, 2011 11:53 AM:

    DeWine...DeWine...DeWine. That name has a familiar ring. Didn't Ohio once have a particularly grace-less senator named DeWine?

  • jcricket on May 30, 2011 11:54 AM:

    Hey, to keep the fire of fear stoked all the time, the lies have to keep on coming without a break. If just for even a tiny moment the lies let up, the truth might make break through and then the fear might turn to anger over being lied to.

    Oh...fear might be turning to anger over the Medicare issue now? Well then...better get lie machine working on overtime to try to turn it back to complete fear.

  • Rochester on May 30, 2011 11:56 AM:

    I'm hoping he was rightly boo'd at this event.

    Insurance executives are laughing all the way to the bank, having completely taken over Republican leadership body an soul.

    Bend over, America. Thank you, may I have another?

  • Dan Tyler on May 30, 2011 12:03 PM:

    I'm with Martin. Let all Americans get the same socialist, government-run medical care the military gets. That would be an appropriate Memorial Day gesture honoring those who have fought and died so this country can thrive.

  • Nancy Green on May 30, 2011 12:16 PM:

    too late-- the government has already taken over our veteran's health care, and they've taken over our elderly, and our elderly veterans. we have to liberate them from the government, give them a coupon, and set them free to buy some insurance. they'll be so grateful, I'm sure.

  • berttheclock on May 30, 2011 12:22 PM:

    @Arlington BigFish, he is his second cousin.

    How ironic that a Buckeye would sully those who should be remembered and honored on Memorial Day. Ironton, Ohio has held a Decoration or Memorial Day parade longer than any town in this great nation. For shame that this never serving RepuG should spit on those who served and gave full measure to this nation.

  • Paul Murphy on May 30, 2011 12:30 PM:

    The expectation of taxpayer-funded health care for veterans following military service is one of the key enticements to get young men and women to enlist and put up with low pay, long hours, frequent moves and combat duty.

    So the issue isn't whether or not to fund health care with taxpayer money. Opposition to health care reform is rooted in Republicans angling for leverage against Obama in 2012, pure and simple. They may call it "Obamacare" or "government takeover" or "socialism" but in fact Americans have been very comfortable with government-funded health care for decades, and Republicans want to take this away, except maybe not for veterans who they consdider to be their Rolling Thunder buddies.

  • Another Steve on May 30, 2011 12:30 PM:

    This year, it's been driven home to me again and again, that Republicans have now simply abandoned the concept of patriotism in the conventional, traditional American, sense of the word.

    As recently as the last decade, Al Franken said Democrats love the country the way adults love a spouse, love with your eyes open to the flaws and the complexities and ambiguities that come with accepting and loving another person. Republicans, however, loved America the way toddlers love their mommies.

    But this year, it's come home to me that that's no longer true. Republican love of country, mommy-love, though it might have been, was still love of the whole thing. However abstracted, however obscured by facile cheap symbolism, how ever blinkered to the existence of people who were different, it was still love of country. Even those silly misguided Democrats and those heavily abstracted brown people who were, after all, just people who would be okay once they finally learned to act "normal."

    And now it's not. Now, Republican "patriotism" has been entirely subsumed by and subordinated to partisan fanaticism and ethnic identify to a degree not normally associated with major parties in a healthy democracy. In their minds, people like us aren't "American" because we're not Republican--the two are one and the same to them. For them, every soldier who died at Gettysburg (on both sides) or Normandy, at Hamburger Hill or on the Bataan Death March, every sailor who died at Pearl Harbor or Saipan, every Marine who died at Belleau Wood or Fallajuah, every bomber pilot downed over Germany and every fighter pilot shot down in MIG alley--all of them died solely to Keep America Republican. And not Dwight Eisenhower's kind of Marxified mongrelized Republicanism, either. No, for them, "America" is synonymous with Jim DeMint and Sarah Palin's kind of Republicanism. If you aren't that, you aren't American.

    In that context, DeWine's tasteless missive is in their minds, perfectly appropriate and entirely unexceptional. Invaders and interlopers are taking over the country, taking it away from true Americans and turning it into something horrific and unrecognizable and frightening. By their reckoning, the mere fact that for the first time in decades, Congress passed a big, comprehensive law of any kind, much less one with a mildly wealth redistributive component, is an affront to everything every brave American killed in battle gave that last full measure devotion to prevent.

  • max on May 30, 2011 12:43 PM:

    DeWine's dishonorable attempt to politicize a day when we remember the people who died on our behalf was pathetic.

  • davidp on May 30, 2011 1:00 PM:

    Another Steve: Wow, that's quite a tirade. I'd add just one thing: partisan fanaticism, ethnic identity, and GREED.

  • Greg Worley on May 30, 2011 1:01 PM:

    Right up there with Cantor's no help for Joplin unless we cut social programs.

  • burro on May 30, 2011 1:37 PM:

    If you told most of the assholes like DeWine that they could make Obama go away, and ACA would be immediately null and void, if they would send their first born child to a foreign dictator of some outside party's choosing, they would be stunned into inaction. They wouldn't know what to do. Keep the kid, or lose Obama and ACA? Keep the kid, lose Obama and ACA. Keep the kid? Lose Obama and ACA? They want it so bad. They'd sell out, and say, anything to have a little peace in their wretched, twisted souls.

    repubco-ism is a cult. The true believers will do whatever it takes to serve the core ideology. There is no thing, symbol, or even being, that shouldn't be used as a weight or lever to tilt the advantage to the central message.

  • Dredd on May 30, 2011 1:41 PM:

  • bigtuna on May 30, 2011 2:13 PM:

    wow. just - wow. As a kid I dutifully particpated in dreary marching band performances, or boy scout things, often in the rain or snow, at a cemetary, on Memorial day observances listening to some tool drone on about fallen soldiers,etc. I complained. Once. THe band leader, or scout leader, reminded me, rather forcefully, as I recall, that while the state rep., or mayor, or whoever, was droning on, and the snow was f***ing cold, I should perhaps focus on the point of the holiday, which was decidedly not about me and my comfort and my feelings. And he also pointed out that most speakers were there to honor the falled. Nothing else.

    I am pretty appalled by this guy's behavior, and I have come to expect so little of republicans ....

  • worcestergirl on May 30, 2011 2:27 PM:

    Slightly off track, but the worst mistake that Republicans may be making this Memorial Day weekend is preventing Obama from making recess appointments.

    What I mean, is that the Republican's real target is to prevent Elizabeth Warren's appointment to the Consumer Board. If they do block her appointment, then there are folks here who would love to see her run against Scott Brown, the David Puddy of the Senate.

    PS - Some of those "Captcha" things we have to type in are unreadable.

  • abiodun on May 30, 2011 2:32 PM:

    Is this DeWine guy pulling a joke or he's really serious? If he is, he must be the most unfeeling, uncaring guy in this world!

  • Old Uncle Dave on May 30, 2011 2:36 PM:

    "Are we really to believe that American veterans who paid with their lives did so to protect insurance companies’ ability to screw over consumers?"

    No, they paid with their lives to increase profits for companies who make war materiel.

    From "War is a Racket" by Smedley Butler:
    "The normal profits of a business concern in the United States are six, eight, ten, and sometimes twelve percent. But war-time profits – ah! that is another matter – twenty, sixty, one hundred, three hundred, and even eighteen hundred per cent – the sky is the limit. All that traffic will bear. Uncle Sam has the money. Let's get it.

    Of course, it isn't put that crudely in war time. It is dressed into speeches about patriotism, love of country, and "we must all put our shoulders to the wheel," but the profits jump and leap and skyrocket – and are safely pocketed. Let's just take a few examples:"

  • DelCapslock on May 30, 2011 2:38 PM:

    I don't invoke racism lightly lightly, but it is blatantly obvious to me that the opposition to the Affordable Healthcare Act is rooted in racism. What makes me so sure about that conclusion is that every single person I know who is against it will admit to me confidentially, once they let their guard down, that the real reason they oppose it is because they see it as a black President taking hard-earned money from white folks and giving it to the undeserving black poor. This is the dynamic that is really in play, and unfortunately a conversation that will never be had in the public arena.

  • R on May 30, 2011 2:39 PM:

    "Are we really to believe that American veterans who paid with their lives did so to protect insurance companies’ ability to screw over consumers?"

    Best. Line. Ever.

    Hope Krugman quotes you.

  • Skip on May 30, 2011 2:45 PM:

    Well, if you could have heard the lady on Rush's show today, who was ranting and raving so hard about Obama's "hypocrisy" her voice was audibly shaking, I'd say that's exactly what our Soldiers died for, that and a white Republican Jesus.

  • DelCapslock on May 30, 2011 2:52 PM:

    ...and following up, the AHA is at the root of the vehement hatred of Obama. There is a good test for this. Ask anyone who has strong anti-Obama feelings to be specific about why they dislike him so much. Ask them to point to a specific policy, an appointment, a decision, etc. I can almost guarantee you the first smokescreen will be "the debt" or "the deficit", depending on whether they know the difference. If you can peel that back further by pointing out the debt built up by George Bush, eventually the AHA reveal itself at the root of their animosity, and the reason for that is the perception of racial preferentialism by Obama.

  • Citizen Alan on May 30, 2011 3:08 PM:

    I'm always strangely amused when Steve gets all heated up about some new Republican atrocity. I'm not even surprised by this comment by DeWine. And why not? Because I have accepted the fundamental truth that Republicans are monsters. Why would anyone express surprise about something horrible that was said by a Nazi, or a Klansman, or a Baathist, or a convicted serial killer. To be a Republican politician in 2011 is to willingly serve absolute evil, to embrace the destruction of America as a worthy goal. And you marvel that they would treat Memorial Day as just another excuse to bash Obama? Seriously, when have the Republicans ever cared about our troops? As far as the GOP is concerned, the purpose of a soldier is to provide good photo ops for a Republican president and then die without complaint.

  • here4tehbeer on May 30, 2011 3:13 PM:

    Arlington BigFish on May 30, 2011 11:53 AM:

    DeWine...DeWine...DeWine. That name has a familiar ring. Didn't Ohio once have a particularly grace-less senator named DeWine?

    Yep, that would be Mike - former US Senator and now Ohio's AG. Kevin is one of Mike's cousins I believe.

  • st john on May 30, 2011 3:26 PM:

    Another point of view, from a Vietnam Veteran: The idea of Memorial Day as honoring "fallen patriotic soldiers" is anathema to me. Memorial Day is a smokescreen to justify war. I did not "fight" for anyone's freedom, and those who died as a result of being in the military during a violent response to some greedy corporation's need to protect their earnings are not heroes because they died. They may be heroes for protecting one of their own in self-defense, but the reason they were in that position is indefensible. General Smedley Butler, as cited above, had a very good perspective on the meaning of war, and especially the U.S.A.'s justification for war. President and General Dwight D. Eisenhower also warned against the Military-Industiral complex, and in his original version of that speech used the term Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex.

    It is time to wake-up Americans: we will never win a war by killing and violence. That only makes money for the Greedy and sociopathic corporate whores.

  • sluggo on May 30, 2011 4:32 PM:

    Kevin DeWine is, indeed, the cousin of Mike DeWine. He is the Ohio Republican Party's attack dog and can always be counted on to provide a churlish and classless quote.

    Here is DeWine attacking a politician for a semi-nude photo that showed up in a high school civics presentation that his 13-year old put on his laptop:
    Always great to further embarrass a 13-year old.

    When Ted Strickland picked an African American judge, Yvette McGee Brown, as his running mate DeWine called Her "a social worker with no experience in public finance or state government," despite the legal positions she held in two state agencies and her decade on the bench.

    Stay classy Kevin.

  • xpara on May 30, 2011 4:48 PM:

    DeWine's glorious military record that would give his comments on Memorial Day some cred? Zilch. Nada. Chickenhawk to the max. Not one day of service. He didn't even join up and go AWOL like the unspeakable Bush. He just found in too inconvenient to serve. It might have delayed his glorious political career. Can't have that.

  • bigtuna on May 30, 2011 5:01 PM:

    Old Uncle Dave - is the Smedley Butler you quote the Marine general who won two congressional medals of honor, among many other honors, for battlefield bravery?


  • Mark on May 30, 2011 5:18 PM:

    You want a Memorial Day message? How about this one, in which Superintendent of Ithaca Public Schools for Michigan Nathan Bootz proposes to turn the school for which he is responsible into a prison. Why? I'll let him tell you.

    "This is why I'm proposing to make my school a prison. The State of Michigan spends annually somewhere between $30,000 and $40,000 per prisoner, yet we are struggling to provide schools with $7,000 per student. I guess we need to treat our students like they are prisoners, with equal funding. Please give my students three meals a day. Please give my children access to free health care. Please provide my school district Internet access and computers. Please put books in my library. Please give my students a weight room so we can be big and strong. We provide all of these things to prisoners because they have constitutional rights. What about the rights of youth, our future?!"

    Nathan - I love you, man.


  • dsimon on May 30, 2011 5:38 PM:

    It is disgusting to use a day to honor those who have served our country to push a partisan political agenda.

    But putting that aside, I wonder whether DeWine will also go on record as opposing Ohio's auto insurance mandate which deprives its citizens the freedom to resolve accidents in their own way. Freedom is freedom, after all.

  • jrosen on May 30, 2011 8:45 PM:

    A few years ago, after Hurricane Katrina, the Memorial Day movie was "Saving Private Ryan". I have never been in the military but older friends who have told me that the opening sequence, the 20 minutes or so of Omaha Beach, was all too reflective of it's reality. I had seen the movie before, but I was unprepared for my reaction, as my thoughts juxtaposed the things I was seeing with the mental pictures of the soul-less and deadly inanity of our then "leaders", and I burst intro tears of anger. I was unable to continue watching because of the strength of my feelings; I am not a good hater in general, but I was that day. If I had been present when Mr DeWine made his crass statement, I might have thrown something (a shoe perhaps?).

    I will be interested to see what, if anything, appears in the Ohio papers.

  • jrosen on May 30, 2011 8:47 PM:

    Sorry. No apostrophe in "its".

  • Old Uncle Dave on May 31, 2011 12:19 AM:

    bigtuna - Yes, the same General Smedley Butler who was instrumental in preventing a fascist coup in 1934.

  • tank on May 31, 2011 5:38 AM:

    I offer to your attention a film about six priorities of the generalized instruments of management by countries and people of Earth.
    Six Principles of Global Manipulation
    Anti-Qur'an Strategy of the Bible Project Wheeler-Dealers

  • jcgrim on May 31, 2011 7:46 AM:

    The R's slow drip of propaganda against medicare has begun. Give it time, they understand that changing public perception repetition and slick packaging will eventually close the deal. They'll keep repeating the lies until the Dems "compromise" with revisions to the Medicare law that satisfies their corporate campaign donors. They'll find the right message, corporate media will amplify the mantra, and in 10 years, US seniors and the public will be sh** out of luck.

    The 30 yr strategy to deregulate wall street and the financial industry can serve as one (of many) examples. "Deregulation = jobs" "job-killing govt", "getting govt off the backs of small businesses","low taxes=jobs" yadda, yadda was the drumbeat. Public looting by the S&L's, repeated recessions, downsizing, job losses for middle- low income workers, and finally the 2008 public looting by the financial industry has NOT ended the corrupt govt capture by corporations that is rotting our system.

  • Iraq Vet on June 03, 2011 3:21 AM:

    "If the petition calls for giving us all the same socialist medical care the military gets, sign me up!"

    Seriously? You can have it. Trust me, there's a reason we in the military refer to Tricare (our 'socialist medical care') as 'Try to get care'.

    Now before any of you jump on your usual liberalism powered vitriol wagon and and start yapping about how I'm brainwashed by the conservatives, know this: I extend a middle finger on both hands, one to the right and one to the left. Why? Because I prefer to use my own mind to determine not what will look good on paper, but how it will work in reality, then vote accordingly.

    Heaven or society forbid that I think for myself instead of choosing between the two big political parties, then lap up whatever secretions the party chooses to spew over the mindless crowds before them.

    So you prefer to choose taxpayer funded doctors telling you to continue running on a broken femur or to tell you you don't have asthma, based on the fact that you are not a sufficient rank to have asthma? I'd just as soon choose my own self-care using sticks, duct-tape, and wishful thinking and not visit the cost-conscious doctors. Yes, make the budget for the military shrink, demanding costs get cut, then beg for the same grass-is-greener-on-the-other-side treatment the military gets. Amusing, really.