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.
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.
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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