Divisive Sampley Dies
Ted Sampley, 62, a former Green Beret in Vietnam who championed the cause of imprisoned and missing veterans from that war, died May 12 near his home in North Carolina from complications after heart surgery.
As a fighter for veterans, Sampley was relentless for decades. But his legacy was clouded by his political attacks on presidential candidates and distinguished war veterans John Kerry and John McCain. His efforts to promote the causes of American veterans took a distant backseat to his hack work for an ugly fringe movement that sought to tar both men as unpatriotic.
He called McCain a "'Manchurian candidate," somehow brainwashed by his captors when McCain was a POW in Vietnam. He tried to link Kerry to actress and antiwar activist Jane Fonda, creating the impression that Kerry, a distinguished Vietnam War veteran who became a war opponent, was conspiring with the enemy in Hanoi to undermine American servicemen.
In the last presidential election, Sampley attacked Barack Obama as a closet Muslim -- and his efforts were picked up by others who hoped to profit through the most despicable sort of prejudice and innuendo.
There will be few mainstream tributes to the man. McCain once called Sampley "one of the most despicable people I have ever had the misfortune to encounter." He added in another interview, "I consider him a fraud who preys on the hopes of family members of missing servicemen for his own profit. He is dishonorable, an enemy of the truth, and despite his claims, he does not speak for or represent the views of all but a few veterans."
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