ME SEN: Tom Allen's veterans problem

Maine Congressman and Senate challenger Tom Allen has benefited from a close relationship with far-left anti-war groups under the umbrella of MoveOn.org. One of MoveOn’s affiliate groups, VoteVets, is now running attack ads against Senator Susan Collins, in an attempt to cast doubt on Collins’ record on military and veterans’ issues. Allen may be wise to try to take advantage of an anti-Republican sentiment in Maine this fall, but going after Collins on these issues is almost suicidal.

Tom Allen’s veterans/military situation is problematic, to say the least. Allen has been in Congress for the exact same amount of time as Collins (12 years), and in that time, he’s yet to pass a single piece of legislation into law. Compare that with Collins, who has a diverse and vast record of legislation that, in particular, has benefited Maine veterans and military families.

Collins’ constituent service in renowned in Maine, and she has been celebrated for the work she’s done in particular for veterans. From chasing down forgotten medals for WWII vets, to working through the mire of red tape to make sure constituents receive benefits, Collins has made a mark that the veterans of Maine have been vocal in their appreciation for. Tom Allen, not so much. He has a reputation for being less than eager to become entangled in constituent issues, and there have been multiple rumors about instances when Allen’s office has referred people to Collins’ office in order to actually get things done.

Allen’s campaign was helpful in articulating just how out-of-touch Allen is with the culture of veterans and military families when they began running their campaign on the money of George Soros and MoveOn.org. The campaign staff also made gaffes to bolster the contention that Allen is not a friend of Veterans. Perhaps most illustrative was a series Allen ran on the home page of his website, touting his alleged efforts to ‘keep America’s promise’ to our veterans. Allen has apparently seen an opportunity to take the veteran community and morph it into another victim class that he and fellow Democrats can take advantage of.

Allen’s website home page featured a striking series of images, including this one of what Tom Allen apparently thought was a U.S. soldier:

The website AsMaineGoes.com quickly pointed out that the image on Tom Allen’s home page promoting his work for America’s vets was actually a photo of a British Royal Navy Honor Guard during a ceremony on the Isle of Man. As a matter of fact, all of the photos in the series on his home page were not of Maine veterans that supported Tom Allen, but rather stock images taken from the same website Democrats had used six months earlier for a similar ad. (In that instance, Democrats were caught airbrushing the Canadian Army insignia from the uniforms to pass them off as Americans). The fact that this image was run so prominently on Allen’s home page indicates a remarkable lack of familiarity with American military culture, and makes his ploy to garner votes by fomenting a sense of helplessness in veterans that much more distasteful.

Now Allen’s donors at VoteVets.org, Soros and the usual gang, are running an ad on Maine television to try to blame Susan Collins for the cost of the Iraq war. The ad features a veteran of the Iraq war named Alex Cornell du Houx. Cornell du Houx is indeed an Iraq War veteran. But he is also former head of the Maine College Democrats, an active liberal activist, a poster boy for MoveOn.org’s affiliate group VoteVets, and a Democratic candidate for State Legislature to boot.

Cornell du Houx’s appearance on the ad amplifies the sentiment expressed by commenters on the Royal Navy website flap: Couldn’t Tom Allen find one vet in Maine that supported him? In Cornell du Houx’s case, couldn’t Allen find one veteran who wasn’t an obvious political figure?

The answer is clearly ‘no’. Allen’s lack of outreach, his failings as a legislator, and his reputation for being tepid when it comes to constituent service are all reasons the Veterans community in Maine wants nothing to do with him.

Running ads against Collins about military affairs and veterans’ issues is a dead end for Allen. This is her turf, and the backlash from Maine’s most honorable citizens will be sharp.