Another Phony “Veteran”

Illinois’ Phil Hare is the latest Democratic candidate to embellish his military service record.

There’s nothing quite so arrogant as an arrogant liberal occupying a position of power. Connecticut senate candidate Richard Blumenthal’s non-apologetic apology over his false claims to have served in Vietnam was a case point. Last week, another liberal Democrat, Illinois congressman Phil Hare (D -17) was in the news again, this time for allegedly threatening a constituent who called the congressman out over his fatuous claims of being a veteran.

You may remember Phil Hare. He was filmed telling a constituent that he doesn’t worry about the Constitution. It was a stupid thing to say, but I’m inclined to give Hare the benefit of the doubt regarding the Constitution. In the context the question he was being asked – where in the Constitution does it say that Americans have the right to health care? – he probably meant that he felt that the healthcare bill would survive a constitutional challenge, rather than thumbing his nose at that hallowed document itself. Not that many a Democrat doesn’t think in the latter terms, but they surely know better than to express such an opinion.

What was more troubling in that video was the sneering arrogance that seemed to seethe through congressman Hare’s very pores. Hare sounded more like a feudal lord putting an annoying peasant in his rightful place for daring to question his master’s wisdom than he did an elected representative addressing the legitimate inquiries of an obviously upset and concerned constituent. But, perhaps Phil Hare was just having a bad day? It seems not. The latest accusations leveled against the congressman are enough to make one question not just his qualifications to serve in the United States Congress, but whether he would be fit to lead a Boy Scout troop.

Hare has repeatedly called himself a “veteran.” In fact, he joined the reserves during the Vietnam era and was never called to active service. By most legal definitions of the word, and most importantly to most real veterans themselves, a former reservist is not entitled to call himself a veteran. When a former reservist uses their honored word, real veterans get touchy, and understandably so. If such a deception doesn’t qualify as a case of full-blown stolen honor, it’s certainly matter of taking out an extended, zero-interest loan against the honor of those men and women who earned the title.

Ken Moffett, a constituent of Hare’s from Moline, Illinois and an actual veteran, asked the congressman to stop describing himself using the term to which – in Moffett’s and many a veteran’s view – Hare is not entitled. The congressman’s reaction was so offensive that Moffett was moved to pen a letter to Blake Chisam, committee staff director and chief counsel of the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct (Ethics). The following excerpt from that letter, dated June 2, 2010, describes what Moffett says happened during his encounter with Hare:

“After I pointed out that according to the law he is not a veteran, he became very upset and demanded to know my name. I refused to tell him my name, saying that this was about his claim of being a veteran and not about me.

Mr. Hare then told one of his aides who was with him, to follow me to my car and get my license plate number so he could find out who I was. I have since been told that Mr. Hare’s daughter works for the DMV.

I then asked Mr. Hare if he was going to stop telling people that he was a veteran. Mr. Hare again demanded to know my name, and again told his aide to get my name or to follow me to get me license number so he could find out who I was, so he could tell the former reservists what I said.

I asked Mr. Hare if he as a public official was going to use his official office to run name checks on private citizens, in order to intimidate them into not asking questions he did not want to answer.

As Mr. Hare was turning to walk away from me he paused, and turning back to my direction, he glared at me intently, and while leaning forward pointed his finger at me, and in a threatening and intimidating manner said, “I’ll find out who you are!”

Aside from tossing in the obligatory “and your little dog too!” Hare sounds a lot more like the Wicked Witch of the West than a reasoned and sober representative of the people according to Moffett’s account. The arrogance and veiled threats that Moffett describes in his letter are consistent with the persona Hare revealed in the “what, me worry about the Constitution?” video.

Will there be outrage over these allegations? Will there be a full-blown investigation to find out if Phil Hare has threatened to misuse, or has actually misused, his power to intimidate voters? There ought to be, on all counts. “I’ll find out who you are!” sounds a hell of a lot more scary than all of the rights that we supposedly lost when George W. Bush flushed the Constitution down the toilet so the NSA could snoop around in search of terrorist e-mails.

When it comes to the media and progressives, the “good intentions test” (good intentions, being of course defined solely by them) is the only thing that matters. I suspect Phil Hare, like Jesse Jackson and so many others before him, will get a free pass. Whether Illinois voters will let him off the hook so easily remains to be seen.