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During the 2000 presidential election, Al Gore's assertion that he had created the Internet inspired a cavlacade of criticism that continues to this day. Gore, who did help foster the growth of the Internet but could hardly claim to have created it, gained a reputation as a braggart and an egotist. Politicians used to bloviating about their accomplishments took notice and more care in ensuring that the facts supported their statements.
Apparently James Webb did not get that memo. He recently claimed credit on his campaign website for proposing and leading the "fight" to include an African-American soldier in the Vietnam War soldier's memorial:
In 1982 he first proposed, then led the fight for, including an African American soldier in the memorial statue that now graces the Vietnam Veterans memorial on the National Mall.
Today, one of the men who truly can claim to have "led the fight" makes clear that Webb has greatly exaggerated his role in the memorial's design. Writing in the Washington Times, Milton Copulos clarifies the process that led to the creation of the memorial, its figures, and its placement:
It was the sculptor, Frederick Hart, who chose to include an African American figure, not Mr. Webb or anyone else. Moreover, there was no "fight" over placing an African American image on the Mall. Rather there was a brief dispute between Mr. Webb and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF) Chairman Jack Wheeler about the number of figures in the sculpture. I was able to resolve the dispute with a call to the VVMF's President and founder, Jan Scruggs who immediately overruled Mr. Wheeler. So if anyone other than Mr. Hart deserves credit, it was our erstwhile opponent, Mr. Scruggs who was the hero of the piece.
But it is not just in regard to the inclusion of an African American in the statue that Mr. Webb has misstated his role. ...
The first person to raise the questions about the memorial was Tom Carhart, a West Point graduate and Vietnam veteran. His testimony at an October 13, 1981 Fine Arts Commission hearing was the first public expression of veterans' concerns regarding the design.
Initially, Mr. Carhart's effort seemed doomed. He had no particular political connections and was something of a political naif. But by luck, I encountered Mr. Carhart at a meeting on Capitol Hill where he raised the issue. I brought him back to my office at the Heritage Foundation and immediately obtained a carte blanche to help him. ...
It was two months before Mr. Webb finally joined the fight -- sort of. He published an editorial critical of the design in the Wall Street Journal on December 18th, carefully distancing himself from the conservative opposition -- us.
Copulos later had to get Interior Secretary James Watt -- a lightning rod for the Reagan administration -- to personally intervene to resolve the veterans' concerns over the project. Watt agreed to rescind his endorsement so that the process could be re-opened. However, VVMF rejected Carhart from the new selection panel, so Carhart suggested Webb in his stead.
Webb didn't have to fight to have an African-American figure included in the sculpture, because the sculptor planned on that inclusion all along. Webb deserves credit for working with the panel to get the memorial completed, but he didn't assume the kind of leadership role he credits for himself, nor did the project create the kind of controversy he describes. In this, he seems very similar to a Senator and Vice President who did some work to subsidize computer networking, but couldn't be content to accurately portray his role and instead tried grabbing for glory that didn't belong to him.
That kind of action is a kind of theft -- robbing the people who deserve the credit to build a persona based on falsehood. It's at least dishonest. Webb should save the resume-padding for his literary career and apologize to the men he slighted.Sphere It View blog reactions
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» Strike Two, Or Three For Jim Webb? from Riehl World View
As Ed at Captain's Quarters points out, Jim Webb has been exposed for taking credit for something he did not do - leading the effort to have the image of a Black soldier included in the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial.That kind [Read More]
Tracked on October 23, 2006 10:32 PM
» James Webb, Meet Al Gore from Bill's Bites
James Webb, Meet Al GoreEd Morrissey During the 2000 presidential election, Al Gore's assertion that he had created the Internet inspired a cavlacade of criticism that continues to this day. Gore, who did help foster the growth of the Internet [Read More]
Tracked on October 23, 2006 11:24 PM
» Democrat Webb Distorts His Record from Iowa Voice
Surprised? Shouldn't be. It's what they do. On paper he looks good. Among the accomplishments his campaign bio trumpets was that: "In 1982 he first proposed, then led the fight for, including an African American soldier in the memorial statue that no [Read More]
Tracked on October 24, 2006 9:16 AM
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