November 07, 2006
Van Taylor accused of overstating war record

Well, this is interesting.

A marine from Iraq war veteran Van Taylor’s platoon is questioning the way the Republican nominee has described their missions on the campaign trail for the 17th Congressional District against U.S. Rep. Chet Edwards, D-Waco.

Marine Staff Sgt. Richard Smith of Austin said he believed Taylor, a captain and the platoon’s commander during their tour in 2003, has exaggerated stories for political impact - particularly the separate rescues of Army Pfc. Jessica Lynch and 31 wounded Marines.

Taylor responded by slamming what he calls is a staged attack designed to impugn his credibility and sway the election Tuesday without any proof. His campaign released statements from five platoon members who support how Taylor has described its missions.

“The timing and placement is for maximum damage to me, my credibility and my campaign,” Taylor said, blaming his opponent, Edwards, for the criticism from members of his platoon.

Edwards has vehemently denied any role in Smith’s decision to come forward, and Smith said he had not talked to Edwards or anyone from his campaign.

“This is the first time that I’ve been around someone that I know exactly what they’ve done and what they haven’t done,” said Smith, 33, of Austin, noting he thought it was important to come forward.

There's too much to excerpt, so read the whole thing. I'm not in any position to judge the veracity of these charges, and while I'm not inclined to have any sympathy for Taylor (two words: "Swift Boat"), I don't approve of lying. I don't know what the story is here, so read it and decide for yourself.

From a crassly political perspective, I'm not sure if this helps Chet Edwards or hurts him. It depends on how much people believe Sgt. Smith, and how offended they may be at the timing of this story. If there's a sharp difference between the early vote and today's vote, we'll know. Thanks to Kent for the tip.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on November 07, 2006 to Election 2006 | TrackBack

I think this has to hurt Taylor. Because it reinforces the meme that he is a serial exaggerator.

Van Taylor came into the race claiming that he had just moved his family to West Texas because he wanted to find a good place to raise his family and then only later decided to run for Congress. I don't think ANYONE around here believes that, including anyone from West. For those of you who don't know, West is basically a wide spot on I-35 about 20 miles north of Waco. At one time it was a primarily Czech farming community and small town that was mostly bypassed when I-35 went in. There are still a handful of Czech bakeries around there and most of the rural residents around West are descendents from the origional Czech immigrants. No one believes that a young multi-millionare from Plano actually moved to West to raise a family. Maybe if he had picked one of the fast-growing upscale suburban areas around Waco such as Woodway, Hewitt, China Spring, or Lorena it might have been believable. But West is old farmhouse and double-wide trailer land, not McMansion and Starbucks land.

During the only debate that I actually watched, Taylor went on an early tirade about how Edwards was denigrating his war record and his service fighting illegal immigration along the border. Edwards responded with an indignant puzzled look on his face saying he has nothing but respect for Taylor's service record INCLUDING THE 30 DAYS HE SPENT ON THE BORDER. He said it with a straight face, but you could just see the press panel trying to supress smirks.

Taylor has also been following the national Republican strategy of trying to completely distort Edwards position on hot-button issues like immigration and social security, claiming in his ads that Edwards wants to give social security and foodstamps to illegal immigrants and other such nonsense. Apparently the identical ads have been heavily run against other Dems around the country. No one here believed them. They were just too far-fetched.

Ultimately I think there are plenty of die-hard Republicans around here who reflexively look for any type of conspiracy theory to validate their pre-conceived ideas about the race and why their boy is losing. But for the large numbers of moderate and basically apolitical voters who lean to Chet Edwards as the local boy, they aren't going to be searching out conspiracies. They're just going to have their existing notions confirmed.

In any event, this article came out in Sunday's Waco Tribune, which is the most read edition of the most read paper in the district. I think it has to be timed for maximum effect.

Posted by: Kent from Waco on November 7, 2006 8:09 AM