Max Cleland may be a living symbol of dedication to country—the former Georgia senator lost both legs and an arm to a grenade in Vietnam—but that didn't stop Karl Rove's political machine from ending his political career with attacks on his patriotism. "There are plenty of reasons to go after me, but my military service is not one of them," Cleland tells NPR while discussing his new memoir, Heart of a Patriot.
"Especially when I was running against a guy (Saxby Chambliss) that got out of going to Vietnam with a trick knee and multiple deferments. He somehow became the American patriot." Rove ran ads centering on Cleland’s opposition to Homeland Security bills, complete with photos of Osama bin Laden. They also carefully avoided showing Cleland in his wheelchair. Today, he's reflective on the defeat. "Regardless of what we go through—war, political loss, loss of job, spouse, whatever—it is possible to become strong even at the broken places in our lives."