During a debate on MSNBC’s Hardball this evening, retired Air Force Lt. Colonel Robert “Buzz” Patterson, a right-wing radio host, gratuitously attacked Iraq war veteran Jon Soltz, the chairman of VoteVets.org, exclaiming “I am so happy you’re not serving in Iraq right now, stabbing your fellow men and women in uniform like you do back in the states.”
Patterson claimed that Soltz didn’t know what he was talking about because he “didn’t get the memo” that “we’re fighting al Qaeda in Iraq.” “You know what, I don’t need the memo because I was in Iraq,” responded Soltz. “You read the newspaper, I was in Iraq. That’s the difference between you and I.”
Patterson muttered back that he had “been to Iraq too,” but Soltz laughed at his claim. “Are you talking about your rah-rah-sis-kum-bah cheerleader tours that the White House took you on or are you talking about as a soldier who took the country?” Watch it:
The fact that “Buzz” Patterson would accuse a political opponent such as Soltz of betraying his fellow Americans should come as no surprise. In a May 2007 interview with National Review Online, Patterson accused “Democrat politicians, big media, academia, popular culture, and nongovernmental organizations” of forming “a Fifth Column” that is “facilitating defeat against Islamo-fascism.”
Additionally, Patterson’s only experience in Iraq was part of a dog-and-pony show tour of Iraq. In 2005, Patterson, along with four other conservative talk show hosts, traveled to Iraq on a “truth tour” to tell “the good news that the old-line liberal news media won’t tell you about.” That visit was shepherded by the Office of Media Outreach, a taxpayer-funded publicity arm of the Department of Defense.
Patterson has never been interested in debating the merits of redeployment; instead, he repeatedly falls back on accusing Bush critics of treason. And yet he’s given a high-profile platform to spout his over-the-top rhetoric.
SOLTZ: Let me tell you something. You weren’t in Kosovo when I was in Kosovo under Bill Clinton, we had body armor on the ground, we have armored Humvees on the ground.
PATTERSON: I was in Bosnia, John! I was in Bosnia!
MATTHEWS: OK, I want to do this clearly. Let’s pretend this is a court room and we need facts. John, you believe that Hillary Clinton is a credible national defense expert. You believe she is the strongest candidate of the Democrats running to defend the country, including continuing the campaign in Iraq.
SOLTZ: I think that all the Democrats are stronger than the Republicans, because the Republicans right now have opposed the increase of the size of our military for the last seven years. It is absolutely ridiculous.
PATTERSON: That is so incorrect, Soltz.
SOLTZ: They have the dedication to super duper defense systems in the skies that have alienated our allies and the Democrats have a position that we will take the fight to Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. I was in Kosovo when we haduparmored Humvees. Why didn’t we have the unarmored equipment in. Kosovo that we do not have in Iraq? It is ridiculous. Bill Clinton was a better commander-in-chief than George Bush.
MATTHEWS: John, nobody’s getting anything here. Let me ask you, Buzz Patterson, this is a question. Based upon all that you know about the Clintons, including the former President, six months into office, how many American troops will remain in Iraq. We have a 160,000 troops in Iraq; will she yank them all out?
PATTERN: She will yank about half out, which will be a debacle. It’ll be a nightmare, and Jon, I am so happy that you are not serving in Iraq right now, stabbing your fellow men and women in uniform -
MATTHEWS: Alright, alright. Jon Soltz, six months into a Clinton presidency, how many troops will we see in Iraq?
SOLTZ: You ‘re going to see an offensive against Al Qaeda in Afghanistan; you’ll probably see a redistribution of troops to take the fight to fight the enemy that attacked us on 9/11.
MATTHEWS: You believe though – you both agree that she’ll cut the number of troops dramatically in Iraq?
MATTHEWS: You say that too, Buzz?
PATTERSON: I agree with that, I think we’ll be out of there in about 12 months.
SOLTZ: We need to take the fight to the people who attacked this country on 9/11, the people of Senator Clinton’s state – .
PATTERSON: Hey Jon, you didn’t get the memo, buddy: we’re fighting Iraq – Al Qaeda in Iraq.
SOLTZ: You know what, I don’t need the memo, because was in Iraq. You read the newspaper -
PATTERSON: Jon, I’ve been to Iraq too.
SOLTZ: Yeah, are you talking about the rah-rah-sis-koom-bah cheerleader tours the White House takes you on?
PATTERSON: Are you still in the Reserves? Are you getting a Department of Defense pension — a Department of Defense paycheck?
SOLTZ: I’m a private citizen right now, chairman of VoteVets.org and an Iraq War veteran.