After publicly questioning the "logic and motivation" of U.S. Marine and Maine College Democrats President Alex Cornell du Houx '06 for his military service, Secretary of the College Republican National Committee Dan Schuberth '06 has issued an apology. Schuberth called Cornell du Houx, who is leaving for a tour of duty in Iraq in December, "one of the most vocal opponents of...our country."
In a letter to the Orient, Schuberth wrote, "In my attempt to deal a blow to a political opponent, I made the mistake of questioning his patriotism and motivation for choosing to fight in Iraq."
"While I strongly disagree with Alex in terms of his political beliefs and his demeanor towards those who disagree with him," Schuberth continued, "it was inappropriate of me to question his patriotism and motivation for joining our armed forces. As I stated before, I have nothing but the highest degree of respect for any soldier who is brave enough to take up arms in defense of his or her country. This respect is offered regardless of a soldier's political beliefs. I sincerely apologize to those who were offended by my remarks."
When contacted by the Orient last week in regards to his original statement, Schuberth said he stood by his comments.
His recent retraction drew attention from members of the Maine College Democrats and the Bowdoin College Democrats.
Asked about the apology, Co-president of Maine College Democrats Bree Dallinga '06 said, "What apology? It was not much of one. It was basically someone twisting his arm and telling him to do it. He did it because the higher up in the party told him to."
Dallinga charged that Schuberth's original comment and his apology were both "sad political moves with much thought put into them but not much conscience behind them."
"He has to say he respects soldiers but obviously that's not the case," she said.
Bowdoin Democrats Co-President Frank Chi '07 mirrored Dallinga's sentiments. "I feel that exterior pressures definitely played a part in his apology," Chi said. "Considering Mr. Schuberth's future career in politics, he probably realized that a statement such as the one he made would eventually come back to haunt him."
"Nonetheless, it does take some guts to eat your words and apologize. I commend him for that," Chi added.
Schuberth declined comment on whether his decision to apologize was motivated by outside pressure.
A number of well-read blogs around the nation have criticized Schuberth's original statement.
"Just as such former College Republican greats as Scooter Libby and Karl Rove betrayed the identity of a CIA agent for political purposes, you [Schuberth] accuse a Iraq-bound Marine of treason simply because he protests our leader's policies. Obviously, you have the right stuff to go far in today's Republican Party," posted a blogger on Operation Yellow Elephant (http://operationyellowelephant.blogspot.com). A link to Schuberth's email address is available on the web site so vistitors to the site can contact him.
SavetheGOP.com, a conservative blog, also disapproved of Schuberth's comment.
"I think this quote was stupid. It made the story a bigger deal?and gave positive press to the College Democrats and negative press to the [College Republicans], which is exactly the opposite of what we should always be doing," blogger Alexander Brunk wrote.
In an interview with the Orient, Cornell du Houx said, "I have received emails and calls from outside the Bowdoin community who all agree that Schuberth's comment was inappropriate and it shows how he is willing to put his own political gain above anything else."
Bowdoin Republicans President Alex Linhart '06 said, "I personally support Dan's [apology] statement wholeheartedly." He said he could not comment on the College Republicans' views on either Schuberth's original statement or his retraction.
"I commend Dan for summoning the humility to acknowledge, in retrospect, that his comments were irreverent," Bowdoin College Democrats Programs Co-Chair Anya Trundy '06 said.
"I hope that with this controversy now put to bed, the Bowdoin campus will find occasion to reflect upon Alex's sobering deployment," she said.
Evan S. Kohn contributed to this report.