Fuck this.

I am laying flat on my back in a small orange mountaineering tent, and I think I am going to die. My feet are sticking out the front flap. I didn’t have the energy to take off my boots. It is well below freezing, the winds are howling and the snow is blowing in through the tent opening. I can’t feel my fingers, am having trouble breathing and have a terrible headache. My whole body hurts and I lack the will to do anything but lie perfectly and miserably still. Worst of all: This is just the beginning.

I am in Argentina, near the Chilean border, about a week into an expedition to reach the summit of Aconcagua, the highest mountain outside of Asia. After Mount Everest, Aconcagua is the tallest of the “seven summits” — the highest climbs on each continent. But I am struggling to advance beyond base camp, which sits at just over 14,000 feet.

Depending on the route, climbing Aconcagua doesn’t require major skills. I have done more challenging and technical climbs, but this mountain is very high and intense storms can come out of nowhere. More than 100 climbers have died on Aconcagua. Only about 30 percent of those who get permits to climb actually make it to the summit.

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By the time I arrived in South America — let alone set foot on a mountain — I was already exhausted.

I’d just lost a grueling three-month campaign for mayor when a friend who is a climbing guide invited me to fill a last-minute opening. I didn’t train for this climb. I didn’t know I’d be here just a week earlier.

So when the violent winds, bitter cold and white-out conditions force all the climbers back to lower ground, all of those factors start to feel like good excuses. I think, “No one other than family knows I am here, so bailing out wouldn’t be so bad — just act like it didn’t happen.”

Photo courtesy of Nathan Fletcher
Photo courtesy of Nathan Fletcher

But as I contemplate giving up, I am reminded of a poem that has privately guided me for years.

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole

Written in 1875, by William Earnest Henley, “Invictus” has comforted prisoners of war, motivated freedom fighters, rallied nations, inspired movies and even branded my local Crossfit gym.

I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

I realized it was time to suck it up.
I resolved I would summit this mountain. I wasn’t going to let a little storm (or this really big one) stop me. No more complaining.

And this is about more than the mountain — it always is.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.

I have never been a complainer. But in the mayoral election, I sure thought about it.

In the course of the campaign, I was forced to acknowledge parts of my past and family life, times when “the fell clutch of circumstances” wasn’t so rosy. They were situations that toughened and certainly shaped me. But I never “winced or cried aloud.” That means I never talked about it — at all.

Climbing one of the highest mountains in the world gives you a lot of time to reflect. There is a great virtue in solitude, but in today’s world of constant 24/7 meetings, conference calls and of course Twitter, who has the time?

With the bulk of the storm past, we loaded up and re-started the trek. Hours of solitude, the comforting monotony of one strenuous step after another — it was really nice.

As I climbed, I reflected on the recent public display of my weaknesses and the analysis of every thing I could have ever done differently in life.

Despite all that had happened, my mind kept circling back to one thing.

When you are in public life, people want to know who you are and where you came from. For years, I boiled my complicated and painful childhood down to something easy to grasp. My dad was a factory worker who became a cop and my mom has dedicated her life to helping abused children and victims of domestic violence.

That is true. But my life doesn’t fit neatly into a 30-second sound bite. My “dad” is not my biological dad.

My biological father was an awful person. Years of my life when I was young were turbulent, chaotic and very violent. It was a living hell. I never talked about it because I didn’t want to complain or be seen as a victim, nor did I want to relive it. I had moved on.

So I avoided the topic entirely by substituting my “stepdad” for my “dad” and just staying away from situations that got too detailed. It worked for years.

I never anticipated this would ever become a political issue. It started with the local paper trying to get in a cheap shot and publicizing my mom’s divorce and custody records, calling into question the roles of my biological dad and stepdad. That set off a feeding frenzy that had reporters calling and visiting the homes of my mom, stepdad and any living relative they could find.

And when the story I had told for years didn’t sync with the drama that the media and opponents were creating, I was put in an awful position: Either tell the whole story, or risk people thinking I had misled them. So, my mom flew in and together we sat down for a very emotional television interview addressing everything.

I felt no relief in the interview. But after the story aired there was an immediate avalanche of calls, emails and Facebook messages — all amazingly positive and tremendously supportive. Most touching were messages from people who had been through similar circumstances. A college student told me he was now convinced he could accomplish anything — our stories were similar, and this one conversation validated my decision to address the issue directly. There was relief and acceptance. Don’t get me wrong, I still think the people who sought to make an issue of this are assholes. But in the end, they did me a favor.

Under the bludgeoning of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed

A weight had been lifted, and a part of who I am was out. I could now see that a story I was reluctant to tell because I thought it represented weakness was actually one of survival, perseverance and tremendous strength.


Climbing into Camp 1, I’m feeling better.

Photo courtesy of Nathan Fletcher
Photo courtesy of Nathan Fletcher

Above basecamp there are three high camps marked by scattered tents, rocks stacked to block the wind and bags of trash lazy climbers are too weak to carry down the mountain. You methodically progress up the mountain from camp to camp. A couple days later, we made the move to Camp 2. The views only got better. One snow-covered peak after another, as far as you could see. Nighttime was absolute amazement: Southern Hemisphere stars without the distraction of any light or air pollution. I’ve never seen anything like it.

At Camp 2, we hit 18,000 feet and I felt even stronger. I passed our twice-a-day medical check with ease.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,

Moving from Camp 2 to Camp 3, my mind shifted from childhood to a more recent experience — war.

I left for this trip the day after Thanksgiving. It is a perfect day: no drama surrounding gifts, good food, it is perfectly acceptable to take a nap in the middle of the day and unlike Christmas, there is football on television. Growing up, the highlight of Thanksgiving was a family football contest with my cousins.

My younger brother and I were very close to our cousins, the Wise family. There were three brothers and one sister. The boys were the “Three Wise Men.” Jeremy was the oldest and the one I was closest with. Ben was next, and then Beau, the “baby.” We did what kids do — rode bikes, played games, camped, had sleepovers. As we got older, we did what older kids do — chased girls, drank beer, broke things — sometimes each other. I joined the military first, then Jeremy, then Ben, my brother and finally Beau. All five of us were in military service.

As we got older, we went through the things older kids go through—marriage, kids, and after Sept. 11 — combat deployments. When you fight in a war, you know people who died and you often see death directly. Given there were five of us who rotated multiple deployments each, I guess the odds weren’t in our favor. It was right after the holidays in 2009 when the call came. Jeremy was dead. A suicide bomber killed him.

Getting that call is hard to process. It has a jarring affect. I pulled the phone away from my ear and just stared at it. You don’t feel anything at first. Nothing. Everything moves really slow — like your brain is stuck in slow motion. Then you think maybe they got it wrong. War is confusing, first reports are usually wrong. But they don’t notify families if they aren’t sure. Anger, sadness and finally guilt — tremendous guilt. Survivor’s guilt is one of the least talked about but most profound emotions combat veterans deal with.

I left the Marine Corps in 2007, after 10 years of service, and immediately wanted to go back on active duty. Instead, I went to Virginia Beach to help make arrangements for the service and burial.

It was there, in a hotel room around 3 a.m. that I struggled to find words to comfort Ben. The service was just a few hours away, and Ben wasn’t sure what to say. I had no clue, but I suggested I Corinthians 16:13. “Be on your guard, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong.” I left off verse 14, which says, “do everything in love.” I wasn’t feeling the whole love thing.

Ben did great at the memorial. The shy, sometimes awkward brother who had lived in the shadows of the older brothers stepped up. He was courageous, strong and stood firm.

I was proud of him. Jeremy was gone, but Ben would fill the void.

Two years later, Ben was dead. This time, it was a firefight with insurgents in Afghanistan. Imagine a mom getting the call that her second son had been killed. It didn’t seem right that fate could be so cruel to one family. I didn’t and still don’t understand how God’s grace and compassion could allow this to happen.

Over Veterans Day weekend, in the middle of the campaign and a month before I’d end up in Argentina, I left California to attend the dedication of a football stadium named in memory of Jeremy and Ben. I think about them every day, but the daily dull pain was amplified as I held Ben’s son, Luke. He is about the age of my boys. Now he was sitting in my lap as we watched college football and tried to act like everything was fine.

It wasn’t the memories of war that I struggled with — it was surviving.

Holding Luke, I committed to doing everything to ensure the families of those we lost are cared for. That started with spending time with Beau — the youngest and only surviving member of the Three Wise Men. Maybe there was something I could do to try and stop the list of casualties of war from growing. A recent study found we are losing 22 veterans a day to suicide. Helping save one life would not bring my friends back, but it could help ensure that another family wouldn’t have to go through the same thing.

In addition to trying to help returning veterans, I knew I had to make sure that I never took for granted a single moment with my boys. What would Jeremy or Ben give for one more moment with their boys?

This all served to reinforce what a precious gift life really is. So many young Americans had their life taken from them, and I was sure I would not waste mine.

The morning after the mayoral election, I conceded the race, congratulated both winners and quoted the poet Virgil, who said, “Fortune favors the bold.”

I don’t want to say it was a relief because I did want to be the mayor and believe I would have done great things for the city. But there is an approach to life by those who have survived traumatic circumstances — childhood trauma, war or sometimes both, that invites risk. I had given it everything and come up a little short. No one died, and I could never be accused of sitting on the sidelines. If you never fail, you are living a cautious and unfulfilled life.

My childhood made me stronger, war couldn’t kill me and the pain of surviving hasn’t either. I had lost an election, but had publicly confronted a major part of my life and privately worked through the experience of combat and survivor’s guilt. I had also been set free from the expectations of political office.

Maybe it is the lack of oxygen, but standing at Camp 3 over 20,000 feet above sea level, things seem very clear. The peace I felt after the election makes a lot more sense.

And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

At Camp 3 or “High Camp” there is excitement but also nervousness. This is it. From here we go for the summit. At this altitude, you get one shot at the top.

Photo courtesy of Nathan Fletcher
Photo courtesy of Nathan Fletcher

It is well below freezing, the winds are howling and the snow is blowing. But unlike a week earlier, I feel strong.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.

It’s 4 a.m., I’m out of the tent and ready to go. It is cold. A few hours higher I’m watching a sunrise while climbing a glacier above the clouds.

Each step of this trip had put distance between myself and what I sought to get away from. But each step also prepared me to return: to a great job that gives me a platform to make a powerful impact globally, an amazing wife, two precious little boys, loyal friends and a lifetime of opportunity.

Sometimes what seem like setbacks in life are needed resets.

Sometimes it takes a few weeks on a mountain to see what really matters.

As I crested the final rock formations and stood atop the Andes, it was an emotional experience. I had made it. I had survived, overcome, grown stronger.

It always is about more than the mountain.

It is clear to me that:

I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

Any mountaineer will tell you summiting is only half the climb. We made the summit on a beautiful morning and then descended into a storm.

I made it down, but the feeling in the tips of my fingers has not returned (making it harder than you think to type this). At basecamp, I caught a helicopter out to help ensure I made my son’s preschool Christmas show. The expedition weight thermals I wore for 16 days straight didn’t make it back from South America, but the two-week mountain man beard did (what can I say, my wife likes it).

    This article relates to: Election, Government, Media, Nathan Fletcher, News, People, Politics, Special Mayoral Election 2014

    Written by Nathan Fletcher

    Nathan Fletcher is a senior director at Qualcomm and a former member of the California state Assembly.

    Mark Cafferty
    Mark Cafferty subscriber

    Nicely written, my brother. And regardless of whether you were laying or lying on your back, you got back up...you always do.

    Unlike most of the folks commenting, I know you well. I know what the race meant to you, I know what your work means to you, I know what your service means to you, I know what your family means to you and I know what this climb means to you. I know how all of these things have and continue to shape who you are and what you believe. So keep climbing.

    Thanks for sharing, my friend. Now go shave that beard. You're starting to look like you should be writing for VOSD.

    Sam Ward
    Sam Ward subscribermember

    No offense to Nathan Fletcher, but @Ricky Young's repeated assertions that his papa Doug's newsletter is actually a paper were really entertaining.

    La Playa Heritage
    La Playa Heritage subscribermember

    Great writing.  I enjoyed the Invictus poem woven through the essay.


    San Diego still desperately need leaders.  The 150 Homeless Veterans are still being Evicted from the formerly Year-Round Veterans Homeless Emergency Shelter Tents, along with 200 San Diegans from the downtown Tent in 40 days on March 31, 2014.



    This is silly because on June 3, 2014 ballot as State Proposition 41, the Veterans Housing and Homeless Prevention Bond Act of 2014, voters will be ask to redirect the $600 MILLION in existing Unspent Bond funds siting in the bank for Veterans Home Ownership, to also be made available to End Veterans Homeless by the 2015 Deadline. If passed by voters the $600 Million can be used for Affordable Multi-Family Supportive Housing for Homeless Veterans, Affordable Rental Housing, or Related facilities for Veterans and their families. 


    Due to lack of local government leadership, the 150 Veterans will be evicted on March 31, 2014, when $600 Million will be available to keep the Veterans Tent opened 64 days later on June 3, 2014.  Please help keep the tents opened.  

    Todd Cardiff
    Todd Cardiff subscribermember

    The first word, a common expletive, uncommon in news media, was at least effective at sparking my interest.  I can see the literary merit for starting the piece with the F-bomb.  It is a signal to the reader that what follows is the author's unadorned thoughts on what he learned from both the unsuccessful election and the successful summit.  It is a statement that he is unconcerned, at this point, whether his word choice is going to turn off some readers (which it did), which is something that has changed from the election, where dropping the F-Bomb would have lost votes.  As a piece of prose, I found the article interesting, engaging and informative.  It made me think what it would have been like to lose two members of my family to war.  I even liked the honesty with leaving off the whole quote of the religious text - not feeling the "whole love thing."

    The comments that followed the article were interesting in that the comments provided me more insight into the commentor, than the article or Nathan Fletcher, and I have come to the conclusion that you guys (and gals) are F'ing boring.  Holey bejeezus...I am boring too.   Time to go ride some mountains instead of climbing them.  

    SourPina subscriber

    @Todd Cardiff I agree with you. I'm not a prude at all, but I can't stand it when writers use expletives gratuitiously or for the sake of shock value when it is not necessary. It can work when done right, and Nathan pulled it off. After the lede, I wanted to continue reading.

    Tammy Tran
    Tammy Tran subscriber

    Are there any other aspects of politics that are full of life and cause no loss?

    Joann Mockbee
    Joann Mockbee subscriber

    Nathan: It is okay fail or wince and you do not have to prove your worth to anyone.  You just have to look within.

    Leah Placido Dutra
    Leah Placido Dutra subscriber

    I can speak to Prof. Fletcher as an educator, I took his course, and he is an excellent lecturer with a sound knowledge of the subject he teaches. There were some technical issues that he needs to sort out for his course to be higher quality, but I learned as much as my other poli-sci classes, more is some cases.  His lack of Phd  experience is supplemented by his access to UCSD colleagues and real world professional experience. That being said, as a politician, his path is frustrating and somewhat sad. Speaking as an outsider to party politics, with only my obsession and poli-sci degree to guide my opinion, I see him as a missed opportunity for CA Republicans. I think the leadership failed at politics when it alienated him. I don't know Fletcher personally, so perhaps I am wrong, perhaps there was nothing to be done by the party politically that could have smoothed the relationship after choosing DeMaio (who was the best choice in terms of qualifications, and not the best strategically for that election). I also think that his abandonment of the party was less bold than he likes to portray. It was frankly based on a misconception guided by too much experience with the old suits of the party, heads swelled by tea party fervor. He would have done well to spend time with millennial R's to get the true view of where the party is headed, and perhaps he would have seen a brighter future. Ambition and impatience derailed what might have been an extraordinary path. His party change does far less to drive my opinion of him than the media released union questionnaire and relatively no evidence of any conservative thought left in his public message, both of which make me unlikely to ever support him, even if he did switch his party again. On a personal note, if you are reading this Prof. Fletcher, tell your last guest lecturer, the campaign guru who spent an hour telling us the the Republican party is dead in CA he can f... well, this is a public forum so I'll let you guess. It would be prudent to take look behind the old leadership of both parties and spend some time, as I have, with the young Ds & Rs. One is frightening in their lack of rational thought, pushing the boundaries of extreme and lost in a sea of fanciful ideology that has no relationship to real human behavior and the other is a colorful, diverse, group of critical thinkers who are firmly connected to reality and driven to improve, not destroy, the founding principles. I don't have to tell you who is who.   

    Andy Cohen
    Andy Cohen subscriber

    @Leah Placido Dutra  Simple:  R's are the former, and the D's are the latter.  Need proof?  See:  Republicans in the California Legislature.  Or better yet, the United States Congress, the most worthless legislative body in our history due entirely to the incompetence and intransigence of the Republicans who control it.

    Leah Placido Dutra
    Leah Placido Dutra subscriber

    @Andy Cohen @Leah Placido Dutra If you were better at reading comprehension you'd see I was referring to millennials, none in congress just yet. If you were better at critical thinking you would see that there is plenty of fault to go around, but as with most idealists or extreme ideologists, reality is evasive, as is self critique.  

    John Kroll
    John Kroll subscriber

    I couldn't read past the first sentence.  If Fletcher considers this acceptable language, I'm glad we won't have him to kick around any more,

    Helen Weals
    Helen Weals subscriber

    No, Nathan, you were not "laying on" your back. You were lying on your back. If you can't write a grammatical sentence, hire an editor.

    amy roth
    amy roth subscribermember

    @kkb1963 @Helen Weals  Cringe-worthy mistakes in English like one this erode the responsiveness of people like Helen and me to whatever we're reading. The "laying" on his back and the opening "f--k" soured me on Fletcher a bit; I'd always thought of him as a fairly cultured man.

    amy roth
    amy roth subscribermember

    @Brian Peterson @amy roth @kkb1963 @Helen Weals  I'm old enough to expect a writer to know how to use English. I also expect a writer to catch his own typos, which I didn't do in this case. And so, yes, an editor would have saved me the embarrassment!

    Chris Brewster
    Chris Brewster subscribermember

    To distil this: I love me. I’m OK. In fact, I’m great!

    Let’s remember that Mr. Fletcher tried to get the Republicans to endorse him and when they didn’t, essentially disavowed them. Then he decided he was a Democrat and that didn’t work either, so he bailed without doing anything meaningful to help the surviving Democrat in the runoff.

    Character matters. Mr. Fletcher doesn’t.

    BVBailey subscribermember

    VOSD may have just jumped the shark with this stunt. If Fletcher wants to try reinvent himself again, shouldn't he be using a paid vanity service like PRweb instead? And the F word intro, really?

    Dan Beeman
    Dan Beeman subscriber

    Nathan, congratulations on your success on the mountain! Success can easily be fleeting in politics. The media eats you alive quickly. But the service of the public is the great reward. And you don't have to be elected to do that! Please consider keeping up your work for the public. We still need more good leaders! We need veterans to teach us what needs to be made better for returning military members, families, and those who can not speak well for themselves! 

    I ran in 1999 for SD council Dist.3 (I-mayor Glorias district). And I learned alot even though I didn't win, I made great friends (Steven Williams, who died not too long after the campaign) and then others through activism (like Pat Flannery & our friend Ian , I've worked for Donna, held feet to the fire and tried to move more for the homeless and need for affordable housing. And I found out how much more is needed to help the "finest city". Infrastructure has gone up by 1000% since I ran. Many many things have been put on the "deferred maintenance" list. And "safety personnel are leaving their jobs left & right while others are become more and more corrupt.

      But the people need a confidence in those who are law enforcers and safety personnel. Even more the constituents deserve better! I hope when you come back you can begin to lead by example. Ask the questions! Even the hard ones, like those you were asked by the media! We need the answers as citizens in our international City by the sea.

      If I can help, please call on me: daniel_beeman@yahoo.com 858-571-6058

    619.318.0891 (text only pls), twitter: walkwithhimFcbk , and Walk with Him & Daniel Beeman Facebook

    Sincerely yours,

    daniel beeman ~human

    ceo dMb Enterprises

    & FreedomPleaseOrg

    aka Walk with Him

    Joe Jones
    Joe Jones subscriber

    Thank you VOSD for publishing Nathan's novella "What I Did on My Angst-Filled Winter Vacation." Hey, Edmund Hillary, here's a clue. Climb the mountain in silence, and simply stop saying you're the first person in your family to go to college When. You. Are. Not.

    Ricky Young
    Ricky Young subscribermember

    I would like to discuss this claim in Nathan’s poignant essay: “It started with the local paper trying to get in a cheap shot and publicizing my mom’s divorce and custody records, calling into question the roles of my biological dad and stepdad.”

    If by “the local paper,” he means the U-T, we did no such thing. (Maybe Nathan meant the Reader, which certainly got into such records. But I don't think most people consider the Reader "the local paper.")

    At the U-T, we simply noticed (http://j.mp/1ms7iKu) that Fletcher consistently claimed to be the first in his family to go to college, at least as far back as a speech in the spring of 2012 and as recently as a radio appearance in October 2013.  The claim seemed not to be true, based on the May 2012 story in the Reader (http://j.mp/Mxos9u). That story listed several previous family members who went to college -- Fletcher’s father, his grandfather, his mother and his brother.

    We asked Fletcher to explain why he made the claim to be the first in his family to go to college. Fletcher briefly said that he was not close with some of the relatives in question, and agreed to stop making the claim (http://j.mp/1jEyBMv). His decision to elaborate by going on KPBS (http://j.mp/O6SFgI) and talking about his background was his own decision.

    Our inquiry was not a cheap shot, it was an inconsistency we were trying to iron out. This happens pretty commonly in political campaigns. As exhaustive as the KPBS interview was, and as exhaustive as this essay is, I am still left wondering why Nathan made the claim.

    The Reader story came out in May 2012, going into exhaustive detail about the college (and other) backgrounds of Fletcher’s family. And yet, he was still saying on KPBS in October 2013, “I was the first one in my family to go to college.”

    Ricky Young
    Ricky Young subscribermember

    @Joe_Armenta @Ricky Young  

    Hi Joe, thanks for your reply. We didn't tear anything out of Nathan. We asked a pretty straightforward question. He gave us an answer that seemed simple enough. Then he went on TV to discuss his family background at length. That was his choice.

    Our initial questions had nothing to do with some of the painful issues he discussed on TV, and again here in this essay. We asked about his mom’s college attendance. By all accounts, his relationship with his mom is strong -- she went on TV with him. So if she attended his alma mater, Cal Baptist, even for a short time, you would think he would be aware of that.

    That’s what makes it so odd that he would claim to be the first in his family to go to college. I guess this seems menial to you, which I can respect. But when the candidate uses this claim in his standard speech, over and over, defining his life story, for well over a year… Well, I think that’s troubling to some voters.

    April.L subscriber

    @Ricky Young @Joe_Armenta  What does it matter, he was the first in his family to graduate from college. Period. What would it change anyway? The election is over, and yet you are still hammering into his personal life. 

    You call into question the fact that he says "the local paper," and then go on a tirade based off of inferences you're making. He did not name the UT, YOU did. Stop with the accusations and let the man heal and move forward. 

    I have to agree with Joe, at this point, you are just being an "profane term." Did you not read the article? Who makes that kind of clarification in the comment section of a deeply emotional piece? ...Cold hearted.  

    Ricky Young
    Ricky Young subscribermember

    @Catherine Green @Ricky Young @Joe_Armenta  

    Catherine, while I appreciate your action on some level, it seems inconsistent to delete a guy's comment for using a word (a--hole) that's less offensive than the first word of the essay itself by Nathan (f---).

    I appreciate you protecting me from a personal attack, but I would be fine with reinstating Joe's comment (and my response). I know you have a broader community to consider than... me. But Joe raises a legitimate point, and again, the essay published by voice has f--- as its first word.

    Ricky Young
    Ricky Young subscribermember


    April, I didn't consider my comment a tirade, so much as an explanation. 

    The U-T is the local paper. If Nathan meant some other publication, I'm sure he can hop on and say so. 

    I did read the article. It's quite personal, and I just commented on one professional matter, as it pertained to my team's work. If others choose to comment on the more personal things, that's up to them. I look forward to seeing what they have to say.

    Ricky Young
    Ricky Young subscribermember

    @April.L  (Oh, and he wasn't the first in his family to go to college, which was his claim. That's why he stopped saying that after we pointed it out. I'm not saying it was a big deal during the campaign, or now, except to the extent that people expect politicians to tell the truth about their life stories. I know many people don't expect that.)

    Joe_Armenta subscriber

    @Catherine Green : Sorry for the profanity, I was merely trying to convey the emotion presented in the piece by using language that the article featured. My comment should read: "Thank you for setting the record straight, Ricky. Tearing out Nathan's troubled past to iron out some inconsistencies of a menial issue truly does make you a guardian of the public's interest. Or maybe you're just Insensitive."

    @Ricky Young My point is that during the campaign, the UT Watchdog--which presents itself as a non-partial protectorate of the public interest--seemed to focus on issues surrounding Nathan that were irrelevant to civic affairs. In doing so, in my opinion, it suggested that Nathan was hiding something and implicitly called into question his upbringing. By running these articles, you pried out something that should have been left private. Yes, Nathan did ultimately decide to release the information, but it was a response to the pressures that you put on him to answer a question that had little relevance to the public's interest, which was insensitive.

    Ricky Young
    Ricky Young subscribermember

    Here's the deleted comment from @Joe_Armenta to me, slightly edited to better meet Voice terms of service:

    "Thank you for setting the record straight, Ricky. Tearing out Nathan's troubled past to iron out some inconsistencies regarding a menial issue truly does make you a guardian of the public's interest. Or maybe you're just an a--hole."

    Ricky Young
    Ricky Young subscribermember

    @Joe_Armenta  "Maybe you're just insensitive" really lacks the original punch, but I see what you're saying. ... 

    Actually, Nathan did not release all the information we asked for, most especially his college transcripts, which all the other candidates released. 

    April.L subscriber

    @Ricky Young Let me quote my comment for you: "What does it matter, he was the first in his family to graduate from college. Period." 

    At this point you are arguing needlessly over semantics and calling into question Nathan's moral character when the fact still remains that he was the first in his family to GRADUATE. 

    I get that it is your job to point out the facts, but in the grander scheme of things, it's inappropriate to do so in the comment section of a piece like this. Have some self restraint and write an article about it, rather than spend your night getting into a comment "fight" with random people who were touched by the article they just previously read, only to be disheartened with your following unnecessary clarifications.  

    Ricky Young
    Ricky Young subscribermember

    @April.L @Ricky Young  

    April, he wasn't the first in his family to graduate from college either. His grandfather graduated from Cal in 1937, and his father from the Univ. of Oregon. Also, his younger half brother graduated from the Naval Academy before Nathan graduated from Cal Baptist.

    I do tend to agree this might not be the best forum for this discussion. But I don't see people on here responding to the more personal items in the essay. As I said before, I would be glad to read what they have to say.

    Randy Dotinga
    Randy Dotinga memberauthor

    @Jim Jones @April.L @Ricky Young  There are bits of truth here lurking in all this back-and-forth.

    Yeah, the U-T went overboard in looking into candidate backgrounds. Remember them dipping into driving records and college transcripts? C'mon. 

    But look: We just had one of the worst San Diego mayors of all time. (Not the worst, but that's another story.) You need to be especially careful about what you say when you run for office in that environment. You're not going to be able to get away with as much truth-fudging as you usually might. 

    Fletcher's comments about his family are fair game for a Fact Check because they relate to his honesty.

    And while this is a personal essay, it does call out an unnamed newspaper for a "cheap shot." Writing a moving piece doesn't give you some kind of diplomatic immunity from being responsible for what you write. 

    Joe_Armenta subscriber

    @ricky young I can't speak on behalf of Nathan, but maybe he felt that it would be subject to unfair scrutiny after you falsely reported his earnings and suggested that his position at ucsd was a sham (despite other professionals in the field holding similar positions such as the Madigans and Denise Moreno Ducheny). Also, Nathan's message was always that he wanted to focus on issues that affected voters.

    Joe_Armenta subscriber

    Yes, you're right, you did set the record straight after going on a strenuous witch hunt to question his integrity. But I guess there are always questions to be answered.

    April.L subscriber

    @Ricky Young  Joe is correct on your stories about Fletcher's position at UCSD. Your paper made him out to be some sort of no-nothing, undeserving, new hire. 

    He is an excellent professor who brings real world experience into the classroom as a means to prepare his students for what a career in politics truly entails. Which sadly, also includes the attacks the UT did on him relentlessly. 

    Regardless, he is a "real" professor and will be teaching again this spring quarter at UCSD. 

    kkb1963 subscriber

    @Ricky Young You and your publication are as bogus as it gets. You are only a print publication that is used to further the desperate needs of D. Manchester. Nothing more and probably a whole lot less. Why don't YOU try getting a real journalist job, oh that';s right you can't.

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