Republican Snake Blogger Meets Greatest Generation

A Republican blogger set out to dig for dirt on Barack Obama’s uncle the other day. He emailed a web site that honors the uncle’s unit, the 89th, boasting that he’d performed a “gotcha” on Obama. The veterans, of course, cleaned Steve Gilbert’s clock. Amazingly, Gilbert documented and publicized every bit of the exchange.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

It’s being reported by Ben Smith of Politico and by Jake Tapper of ABCNews. A Republican blogger, digging for dirt on Barack Obama’s Great Uncle, got told off in no uncertain terms by a World War II veteran and his son. Bravo to Raymond and Mark Kitchell, my heroes for this week, for sure.

Everyone read about the story of Barack Obama saying his Great Uncle helped liberate Auchwitz, when it was in fact a different camp the uncle, Charles Payne helped liberate. Enterprising Republican blogger Steve Gilbert, of a web site ironically called “Sweetness and Light,” decided that there must be something out of the ordinary, so he decided to investigate. He probably had dreams of being the first to SwiftBoat Barack Obama’s great uncle, imagining that by impugning the reputation of a World War II veteran he was somehow making a comment on Barack Obama’s fitness for service. Yeah, this falls under the category of “Most Disgusting Republican Dirty Tricks.”

Gilbert, and “snake” is too nice a word for him, decided to contact the 89th Infantry Division of World War II unofficial web site to find some dirt on Barack Obama’s great uncle, a man who is 84 at the time of this writing. There is no doubt that Gilbert wanted to destroy Charles Payne’s reputation, of course. (Destroy the reputation of a World War II vet who is 84 years old? How completely disgusting!) Well, Gilbert got nowhere, because the men responsible for the web site, Raymond Kitchell and his son Mark, weren’t having any of it. Here’s the email in response to Steve Gilbert’s request:

– Original Message –
From: Steve Gilbert
To: markkitchell@[redacted].com
Sent: Wednesday, May 28, 2008 6:14 AM
Subject: Any Record Of Charles W Payne?

Mr. Kitchell,

As you may have heard by now, Barack Obama has claimed that his great uncle Charlie Payne was a member of the 89th Div that liberated Buchenwald.

According to records his full name is either Charles W Payne or Charles T Payne (most likely the former), and he was born in 1924 – and he is still alive today.

He most likely was from Kansas at the time of enlistment.

Do you have any record of this gentleman?

Thank you,

Steve Gilbert

PS – If you go to my website, you will see that I was probably the first to note the error in Mr. Obama’s first claims about his “uncle.”

Obama Claims His Uncle Liberated Auschwitz | Sweetness & Light

And Mr. Kitchell’s helpful reply:

Please crawl back under the rock you came out from.

Good day

Raymond Kitchell, veteran 89th Inf Div

I have since been sent this followup email:

From: Mark Kitchell [mailto:markkitchell@[redacted].com]
Sent: Wednesday, May 28, 2008 10:47 AM
To: Steve Gilbert
Subject: Re: Any Record Of Charles W Payne?

I don’t claim to represent anyone. You are the one who came to my son and I asking for information.

Please spend ample time chasing down the lies fed to you by chickenhawks Bush & Co. Like 90% of this administration, they don’t have the foggiest idea what we went through or what we saw at Ohrdruf.

I wonder how many people who visit the 89th Infantry site and support Mr. Kitchell’s work realize his politics are those of Cindy Sheehan?

Evidencing no shame, as if he’d been raised by wolves, or maybe Karl Rove, Steve Gilbert has the entire exchange with the good folks Kitchell on the Sweetness and Light web site. It’s ugly. The guy even compares Raymond and Mark Kitchell to Cindy Sheehan.

There’s a lot of ethical ugliness to unpack here. Steve Gilbert evidently wanted to destroy the reputation of a man who served this country just because he was related to Barack Obama. That certainly ranks high on the ugliness meter, but it’s certainly within the ethical parameters of how Republicans work, I suppose. That Gilbert went to the keeper of a site honoring those veterans like Charles Payne, is simply stupid. These guys are very likely to stick together, after all. They went through a lot together in WWII. I love how Steve Gilbert crows that he’s the one to make Barack Obama look good by uncovering the Obama mistake about Auchwitz. So let’s see, we’ve got trying to smear an 84 year old veteran, counting on the complicity of a fine fellow veteran of that 84 year old Charles Payne, bragging about how he’d already stuck it to Barack Obama. . . this guy Steve Gilbert is almost ready for Republican Prime Time, don’t you think? Then he publicly compares Raymond Kitchell to Cindy Sheehan.

I’ll echo Mr. Kitchell, and note that Steve Gilbert ought to go crawl back under the rock he came from. But I’m thinking he’s almost been ugly enough in this exchange to qualify as a guest host for Rush Limbaugh. Still, I’d give a lot of money to see Steve Gilbert in a room full of veterans of the 89th, the Rolling W. I might even have enough in me to pity how those men would “honor” Steve Gilbert, though I’m more likely to break into applause.

I’m guessing the Republicans lost a few votes among members of the 89th on this one.

Monday, June 30th, 2008 by Steven Reynolds |

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