MT House 2014: All Hands on Deck

Besides putting together the Special Nominating Convention” to find a U.S. Senate candidate to run against Republican Steve Daines and Libertarian Roger Roots, the Montana Democrats continue to go after Republican U.S. House candidate Ryan Zinke about his military service.

It’s all hands on deck as the Democrats have probably surmised that they will lose the Senate seat and defeating Zinke is their best bet. Now a few Montana blogs are chiming in about Zinke and his military service.

They are starting to look a little desperate.

I’ve written several times that I don’t like it when a fellow veteran running for political office is attacked about their service for our country – especially when the folks doing the attacking never served in the military. I really don’t care whether that veteran is a Democrat or a Republican – they deserve respect for serving.

On Tuesday I wrote a little bit about the Montana Democrats and Zinke’s records and that he and I both have DD Forms 214s with the Character of Service listed as “Honorable.”

Montana’s premier progressive blog, Montana Cowgirl, had an unnamed expert “tipster,” who claims to be a former intelligence analyst with the Army, send the blog commentary about Zinke’s records. These were the records that Lee Newspapers had used for an article over the weekend. It really wasn’t commentary; it was a swiftboat-style attack on Zinke. The tipster basically called Zinke an idiot for being a “shore officer” for four years and that “every officer gets a bronze star” so they can get ahead.

By the way, I know several officers throughout my military career who must have missed stopping by the office where they hand out Bronze Stars like candy.

Another progressive blog in the state, Intelligent Discontent, took a different angle in attacking Zinke. Fellow blogger Don Pogreba, who is an English/Debate teacher, wrote about Zinke’s plans for veterans’ healthcare. This is always a great subject to debate. In fact, I enjoyed Pogreba’s view on Zinke’s plan right up until he wrote:

I’m beginning to have some theories about how Senator Zinke is able to receive benefits for an 80% disability from the military, despite being able to run in “Spartan” races: apparently he came home from his service with neither a heart nor a brain.

That’s an uncalled for cheap shot.

The sad thing is it’s probably going to get worse between now and November.

Pogreba then writes, “The only qualification Senator Zinke ever mentions in his bid for Congress is his experience in the military.”

Many of us think that Congress would run more efficiently if more veterans were elected to serve there. Just yesterday Gallup Polling reported that Congress has an approval rating of 13%.

On the wall above my computer here at The Western Word headquarters I have a bumper sticker that reads:

If You Can Read This, Thank A Teacher.
If You Can Read This In English, Thank A Veteran!

Thanks go to Don Pogreba and Ryan Zinke and to the unnamed expert “tipster” over at the Cowgirl blog for that.

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  1. It actually may have been a cheap shot. I’ll give you that. I find myself a bit prone to anger when it comes to mental health and suicide issues. We live in a state that embraces the macho nonsense that Zinke’s terrible plan embodies.

    I might have let the anger about that get the best of me.

    Thanks for the observation.

  2. I find it quite amusing that Republicans don’t think listing previous qualifications on a job resume is important. After all, Zinke is asking the people of Montana to hire him, yet he’s close-mouthed about what he’s done before.

    Red flag city! What if you were sitting across from that interview table and your potential employee got mum, shuffled their feet, and refused to talk about a previous job? You’d get worried, and real fast, wouldn’t you?

    Or does Montana need more poor workers that we can’t fire?

    • Greg:

      First, you should read my column a little more closely. I never said a candidate should not list previous qualifications on a job resume. I think service to our country deserves a certain level of respect – like not being called an idiot, or that medals they received are given to everyone, or that the veteran “came home from his service with neither a heart nor a brain,” and that an 80% disability is not deserved.

      I don’t care if it was a Republican or Democrat candidate getting hit with it, it’s still a cheap shot. I did not care for the early attacks on Walsh, either. I wrote about that, too.


      • Jackie, a redacted DD 214? Come on. Doesn’t that strike you as just a wee bit suspicious? If not, why not? There’s sumthin’ there that zinke’s hiding. He could clear the whole matter up by just being honest. Wait! What did I just ask? Sorry, but honesty is NOT a requirement for a politician now, is it?

      • Larry – Thanks for your comments. The parts of the DDF 214 that I was most interested in were “Character of Service” (box #24) which was “Honorable” and “Separation Code” (Box #26) which was RBD and that means retirement between 20-30 years. Those are pretty important. I do wonder what is in the “Separation Authority” (box #25), but it’s not as important as boxes 24/25. According to the DD Form 214 he had honorable service, but that does not seem good enough in the world of politics. -JmB

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