Caught My Eye…

Welcome to Friday and “Caught My Eye!”  Are you ready for this?

If you are a first-time visitor, “Caught My Eye” is posted right here every Friday morning! This is when I take a look at some of the stories I did not have time to write about during the week. I often throw in a touch of sarcasm to make you smile – or to irritate you just a little – or both.

Today I write about the veterans’ reform bill and what Jon Tester and Steve Daines are doing/not doing about it. Then I take an in-depth look at Walsh and plagiarism, including my thoughts on how the New York Times got the story, Walsh’s foes and friends, Daines’ silence, and Walsh’s future. Plus we have a winner who is Making Montana Proud!

I think even Vice President Joe Biden would call today’s Caught My Eye “a big %^&$ deal” so read on…

Veterans Reform Bill:

I probably speak for a lot of my fellow veterans when I say we’re getting pretty sick of the pettiness going on in Washington between the House and Senate VA committees – heck all the members of the Senate and House! Now it looks like the VA reform bill won’t be passed before the five-week August recess that is due to start July 31 and last until September 8.

To be blunt – members of the conference committees are pretty much sucking at their one and only job which is to iron out their differences and pass the bill.

I believe if more veterans were on these committees (and elected to Congress), we might see a stronger commitment to veterans during negotiations. It’s easy to wave the flag and send press releases saying you support veterans. It appears that is about as far as it goes these days.

Shame on the House and Senate VA conference committee members including Montana Sen. Jon Tester (D), who played-up the fact that he was selected for the conference committee. Maybe Tester can now play up the fact that he has been part of the failure.

As for Congressman Steve Daines (R), he basically voted against the Senate VA reform bill yesterday afternoon in the House. The bill was defeated 205-207. That bill passed the senate 93-3 in June. What that proves to me is that Daines has placed politics above helping veterans.

Walsh & Plagiarism:

Two days after the New York Times reported that U.S. Senator John Walsh plagiarized a paper at United States Army War College seven years ago, the Walsh campaign might be saying, “It’s not the end of the world, but we can see if from here.”

I mentioned the Walsh and plagiarism issue briefly in my Thursday Numbers column yesterday, but I wanted to write more about it today. I see just about everyone else has written something about it, but this will be the independent analysis you’ve come to expect from The Western Word (TWW).

By the way, I searched Google Thursday night for “Plagiarism and John Walsh” and found 933,000 results. Ouch!

Friends at the NYT-

Somebody who supports Steve Daines or supports Republicans getting control of the Senate in November has some valuable contacts at the New York Times. There’s no way that the New York Times reporter, Jonathan Martin, was looking for information on John Walsh from Montana and just happened to find something negative on him from seven years ago. So unless Mr. Martin tells me otherwise, I would imagine the information was laid in his lap by somebody who had an agenda and Martin wrote the story.

That’s the way it is and both sides do it. Heck, I’ve done it. It’s hard to find a reporter in Montana who will investigate anything, so you have to do the leg work for them – or send it out of state. Although one side might cry foul, if given the chance, they would do the same thing and not think twice about it.

Foes & Friends-

As expected, the supporters of Walsh’s opponent, Congressman Steve Daines, are out in force – kind of like vultures circling over a wounded animal. Some are being just a little too cocky and hateful, but that is politics.

Of course, Walsh supporters are firing back on Twitter and on blogs with their thoughts, but they took a serious punch in the gut.

I would imagine that there’s a renewed emphasis on opposition research now – which I love to do. If I had been vetting John Walsh, I would have asked to see everything that he had ever written.

I can see folks poring over everything Steve Daines has written/said (again), not to mention everything that GOP House candidate Ryan Zinke, a veteran himself, has written/said – even everything in Democratic House candidate John Lewis’ past! Stay tuned – it’s probably going to get even nastier in Montana politics.

We still have time for three or four more blockbuster events before November, so no race can be declared over.

Daines’ Silence-

The Daines camp has been pretty quiet about Walsh and plagiarism. You can bet the Pro-Daines PACs won’t be silent for long. Daines seems to be playing by the rules not to throw your enemy a life-line when they are going under. Or, maybe the team realizes that everyone’s just a negative comment about a firefighter away from seeing their poll numbers go into the crapper. In Montana, that seems to be the Republican method of operation in senate races.

Walsh’s Future-

As for Walsh, he has to rebuild trust. I was a little concerned about him bringing PTSD into the discussion, but I won’t argue with it because I have not walked in his shoes. Like many, I was disappointed in Walsh when I heard about the plagiarism, but that was a small part of his honorable career. The internal polls will tell him and his advisors how much damage was done and what he should do. You can bet his opponents won’t let this go away until November 5. The Army War College is doing an investigation which means this will drag on for awhile, unless something else moves it off the front page.

Team Walsh needs to move this off the front page/evening news quickly. It’s now been on the front page and the first segment of the local news for two days. He did one set of interviews about it and that should have been enough. He needs to get back to his regular schedule and try to change the subject.

Finally, to borrow a quote from one of my favorite movies, Forrest Gump, “That’s all I have to say about that.”

Making Montana Proud:

This section is where I mention people or groups whose actions embarrass Montana in some way.

-From the Billings Gazette: U.S. District Judge Susan Watters sentenced a Hardin man to five years of federal probation “for a drunken driving accident that killed a passenger and injured two other passengers.” It was a federal matter because it happened on the Crow Reservation.

Watters could have given the man 51 months in prison, but she didn’t. With that sentence, she did nothing to deter drunk driving in Montana.

U.S. District Judge Susan Watters is this week’s embarrassment to Montana.

One More Thing:

Don’t Forget to Stretch…


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  1. IMHO, any effort by Walsh to build “trust” with the people will fall short so long as he excuses his behavior, DENIES that it was plagiarism, and retreats to the George Costanza defense, “Was that wrong?”

    One of his hurdles is explaining how he was exempt from The Army Values, especially at the Army War College.

    …Honor is a matter of carrying out, acting, and living the values of respect, duty, loyalty, selfless service, integrity and personal courage in everything you do.

    Do what’s right, legally and morally. Integrity is a quality you develop by adhering to moral principles. It requires that you do and say nothing that deceives others. As your integrity grows, so does the trust others place in you. The more choices you make based on integrity, the more this highly prized value will affect your relationships with family and friends, and, finally, the fundamental acceptance of yourself.

    • Craig – We’ll see. Sometimes the best thing a person can do in these situations is say, “I made a mistake and I am sorry” and let it go at that. -JmB

      • His weak excuses and lack of an apology has not gone unnoticed. The Worst Week in Washington Award reminds me of Proxmire’s Golden Fleece Award he handed out to self-serving public figures.

      • Craig – Yes, it’s being noticed big time. Like I said in my column, I did a search of “John Walsh and plagiarism” Thursday night and got 933,000 results. -JmB

      • Perhaps he should get to it quickly before the War College proceedings go any further. Plagiarism is a theft of intellectual property. After the War College rules, it’s possible that Walsh may be recalled to active service to face proceedings under Article 133 of the UCMJ– Conduct Unbecoming an Officer. Theft of property is a specified offense.

      • Craig – sorry I was late approving this – getting a workout! It would be icing on the cake for conservatives if Walsh was brought up for proceedings under the UCMJ. I doubt that happens because he is out and it’s been seven years. He may lose the credits for that paper from the Army War College which in turn could cost him his degree. It will be interesting. If I were him, I would correct the paper and present it to them before they start the investigation with a note of apology to the school and the Army. -JmB

  2. Good analysis. First, I don’t expect Bullock to have to have someone on his staff go back and read Walsh’s college papers. Maybe that’ll change, and I think it’s unfortunate. Why? What else could we be spending our time on?

    I’ve written history and this plagiarism stuff is indefensible. You’re right it’s a punch in the gut, but Democrats need to keep that seat in November and going on the defensive for Walsh isn’t going to do that, in my opinion.

    It’s full panic mode and when that happens people clam up and scandal lingers like a stench in a room. This is happening now, but maybe there’s something going on we don’t know. To let this go into the weekend with no response…or with just the responses we’ve been given? I don’t know, it’s not good and now I’m wondering how this will affect Lewis and even some legislative races.

    • Greg – Thanks for your comments. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. I don’t expect Walsh to step aside. If he does, the only one who could mount a challenge to Daines is Schweitzer, but he said no earlier. -JmB

      • This is one of the things I wonder about. Are we still going on Schweitzer’s no of months ago or this week? Circumstances have changed for 2016 for him, and maybe that Senate seat is looking a little more attractive. I don’t know, that’s a bit of a stretch, but maybe there’s something going on. Walsh’s plane delayed today? Sorry, but I look for too-coincidental of coincidences.

      • Greg – I bet some Democrats are calling Schweitzer to see what he would do today. As for Walsh’s plane being delayed – that stuff happens. I would have given him one day to talk to the press then that would have been it. Now there will be more stories about this interview. Sometimes you just have to say you’re sorry and ask for forgiveness and move on. -JmB

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