Newspaper Digs Into Democratic Politician’s Past, Discovers He’s A War Hero

Finding out that reporters are looking into your past is enough to send a cold shiver down most politician’s spine, but one Democratic candidate’s closet was filled not with skeletons, but military medals for heroism.

The Boston Globe reports that they were astonished to discover that Seth Moulton, a Massachusetts Democratic nominee for US Congress, had recieved multiple accolades for valor while serving as a Marine in Iraq. The reporters’ shock was not that Moulton would be a hero, but that he had never publicly said anything.

For many politicians, a sterling military record is viewed as a golden ticket to office. Many have eagerly used their service in campaign ads and invoked it during debates, but Moulton chose to keep his experience in Iraq private.

Via the Boston Globe:

“In 2003 and 2004, during week-long battles with Iraqi insurgents, then-Lieutenant Moulton ‘fearlessly exposed himself to enemy fire’ while leading his platoon during pitched battles for control of Nasiriyah and Najaf south of Baghdad, according to citations for the medals that the Globe requested from the campaign.

“The Globe learned of the awards — the Bronze Star medal for valor and the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation medal for valor — after reviewing an official summary of Moulton’s five years of service, in which they were noted in military argot.”

After the newspaper “exposed” Moulton as a war hero, he told them in an interview that he intentionally kept his military career private and never wanted to use his medals as a prop for his campaign, saying that to do so felt like “disrespect” to the men and women who served and received no accolades.

Moulton stated:

“There is a healthy disrespect among veterans who served on the front lines for people who walk around telling war stories.”

Most veterans may roll their eyes, but politicians still have no qualms in trumping up their own military service. It’s not hard to see why. The American public has a long love affair with electing war veterans to office. George Washington set the tone as the very first. Andrew Jackson won the presidency almost exclusively because of his heroism in fighting the British and their Native American allies in the War of 1812. What’s more, studies have found that voters view a candidates’ competency of national security and defense as much higher if the candidate has military experience.

With that kind of political boost, it’s no wonder that some politicians find the idea of it a bit too enticing to pass up. In some cases, they have been caught adding extra flourishes to their war stories just to give themselves a better reputation. In one of the most infamous cases, Ronald Reagan was caught several times flat-out lying about incredible feats of valor during his military service that had never happened. In perhaps the worst offense, he once boasted that he helped liberate Auschwitz and several other concentration camps, when in reality he had never even been near Europe during World War II – in fact, he had never left home during his service.

When the Premier of Israel visited Reagan at the White House, the President went on and on for three quarters of an hour explaining why he was pro-Jewish: it was because, being in the Signal Corps in World War II, he visited Buchenwald shortly after the Nazi defeat and helped to take films of that camp. Reagan repeated this story the following day to an Israeli ambassador. But the truth was 180-degrees different; Reagan was not in Europe; he never saw a concentration camp; he spent the entire war in the safety of Hollywood, making films for the armed forces… [source]

And by no means was Reagan the only offender. (Talking Points Memo collected a list of some of the most prolific ones here.)

That’s what makes Moulton different. When he had the opportunity to use his bona fide military credentials, he didn’t, even if it meant costing him the election.

Moulton told the Globe:

“Look, we served our country, and we served the guys next to us. And it’s not something to brag about.”

Try telling that to Ronald Reagan.