After a committee recommended Maxwell Corydon Wheat Jr to be the Nassau Poet Laureate, Schmitt instructs his people to vote against him. Why? Schmitt says "I've recommended to the GOP delegation that we vote no on this guy... His writings condemn the troops fighting for America in Afghanistan and Iraq, and that's absolutely tragic . .. I don't care what his politics are, but you don't condemn the men and women who answer this nation's call and put on the uniform. That committee could have come up with somebody better than that."
Sadly Schmitt doesn't cite what Wheat has written that attacks US soldiers and Newsday doesn't provide anything either.
Reading his "American Mourning Poem," I see a man who cares about the soldiers and mourns thier loss. Or his Poem 'Iraq' which asks who are the real victims in Iraq.
In the NYTimes, we get comments from other republicans using pseudo-patriotism to bash Wheat with Dennis Dunne saying “He does not represent me, he does not represent veterans... I won’t put up with it. My son left just yesterday for Iraq.”
And what does that have to do with Wheats opposition to the war in Iraq? Nothing.
And maybe Dunne should visit votevets.org or operationtruth.org. Both are Iraq War Vets sites and they oppose what is going on in Iraq. But then, what does this have to do with a Poet Laureate for Nassau County? I'll get to that.
Side Bar: Four years ago when the County was sponsoring the Horse of a Differnet Color program where large fiberglass horse statues were painted by local artists. One horse was designed by a 9 year old girl and painted by a local artist. The horse had a stylized american flag painted on it. Dunne got all hot and bothered and decried the horse and presumably the artist and 9 year old designer by saying "I want that horse out of Nassau County." Schmitt got into the act with faux-patriotism and screamed "I am ashamed to see the disrespect that the administration has shown to the thousands of veterans of Nassau County and to all Americans by allowing our nation's colors to be painted on the rear end of a fiberglass horse."
Too bad for Schmitt that the flag was NOT on the "rear end" of the horse and the only horses ass in the whole thing was Schmitt... and of course Dunne. This was all politics. A chance to bash Suozzi.
And this incident with Max Wheat is also all about politics.
Gonsalves chimed in that it wasn't about politics "but we want to support our troops.”
And that is what Wheat does. He opposes the war but he does support the troops.
This smells more of a headline generator than anything real about Wheat.
Why did the republicans wait until the hearing and the vote to make their case against Wheat?
Becker didn't have a copy of Wheats book before he entered the room?
What was supposed to be a simple vote was turned into a three-ring circus.
I've called Schmitt to ask what exactly was the poem or verse that "condemn the troops fighting for America in Afghanistan and Iraq" as he says.
Wheat strongly opposes Schmitt's characterization of his work and rightly so.
Wheat has a long and distinguished, award-winning career as a poet and for Schmitt to slander him is just out of bounds. But you can expect nothing less from Schmitt.
UPDATE: The Community Alliance has a take on this too...
"There was something in Wheat's poems that the Legislature's Minority Leader, Peter Schmitt -- who, we suppose, spends much of his time in literary pursuits, reading novellas and waxing poetic -- found offensive to our troops.
Gee. We didn't realize that Peter Schmitt could even read. The other dumkopfs on the Committee who voted against Wheat's honorary appointment (including its Chair, Diane Yatauro, who, according to Newsday, felt "uncomfortable" with someone who wrote about an elected official), must have read the poems to him.
We took a look at Wheat's poems at issue -- which condemn war, not those who bear its burdens on the front lines -- and could find nothing offensive, demeaning, or, as Heir Schmitt puts it, that which "condemn(s) the troops fighting for America in Afghanistan and Iraq. . ."