The Monday Memo: Ryan Zinke, Obamacare, & Iowa Caucus

If I were to remain silent, I’d be guilty of complicity. ― Albert Einstein

Today’s independent commentary deals with these issues:

  • Down goes Zinke
  • ACA/Obamacare
  • Iowa Caucus Poll: The Democrats

Down goes Zinke:

With a Saturday morning tweet, President Donald J. Trump announced the departure of Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke:

Secretary of the Interior @RyanZinke will be leaving the Administration at the end of the year after having served for a period of almost two years. Ryan has accomplished much during his tenure and I want to thank him for his service to our Nation…….

Zinke is a former State Senator and U.S. Representative from Montana. Zinke was the first Montanan to hold a cabinet position.

A few hours later via Twitter, Zinke issued a statement:

I love working for the President and am incredibly proud of all the good work we’ve accomplished together. However, after 30 years of public service, I cannot justify spending thousands of dollars defending myself and my family against false allegations. Full statement attached.

I may have said this before, but the media in Washington, D.C., are not as friendly to candidates, elected officials, and government officials as the media in Montana. The Montana media (not all, but some) don’t always report the whole story partly because they are afraid to lose their jobs, and partly because they don’t have the experience. Sometimes the Montana media are in awe of who they are interviewing.

That’s not the way it is in D.C.

To say the least, Ryan Zinke found out fast quickly was not in Montana anymore after he was confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

Reuters reported that Zinke’s departure makes him the ninth Cabinet-level official to leave since Trump took office two years ago.

That has to be some sort of record.

The online comments and headlines were not too kind to Zinke.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer via Twitter:

Ryan Zinke was one of the most toxic members of the cabinet in the way he treated our environment, our precious public lands, and the way he treated the govt like it was his personal honey pot.

The swamp cabinet will be a little less foul without him.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi issued a statement:

“Secretary Zinke has been a shameless handmaiden for the special interests. His staggering ethical abuses have delivered a serious and lasting blow to America’s public lands, environment, clean air and clean water.”

U.S. Senator Steve Daines (R-MT) had this to say via Twitter (which could come back to haunt him for reelection in 2020):

Thank you @SecretaryZinke for restoring commonsense management of our public lands, fighting to end the war on coal and for making the U.S. energy dominant. Montana is proud of you!

One article in the New York Times put it this way:

When Mr. Zinke was forced to resign as interior secretary on Saturday, he joined a line of officials who have left the Trump administration under a cloud of ethics inquiries. 

Many in the media reported that Zinke was leaving because of “investigations and alleged improprieties” and that Zinke was “embattled.” Some said he was stepping down because of “ethics investigation.” Some just said he was fired.

The organization called Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) says they found that:

“…Zinke has racked up 17 federal investigations into his behavior since becoming Secretary. While a few of these investigations have cleared Zinke of wrongdoing, many remain ongoing, and — perhaps most concerning — several were closed or were inconclusive due to a lack of cooperation with the probe or the Interior Department’s failure to keep proper records.”

Back on December 3, I said “good for Zinke. In fact, I applaud him for it” when he went after Rep. Raul Grijalva for an opinion piece that was not very favorable to Zinke. I still agree with Zinke about it because I always think as an elected or appointed official you should fire back at those like Grijalva who use the national media to attack you. I also said I thought that Zinke’s might be getting ready to depart Interior.

Zinke will have a tough time getting elected in Montana again – although I think he is loved enough that he’ll probably end up as a commentator on Fox News.


In a perfect political world filled with statesmen and stateswomen, there would be an urgency to work together across party lines to make Obamacare better for all of America. They would start with things they agree with and work from there. Seems simple enough, huh?

As Americans, we should all be pissed that they won’t lay down their partisan swords and get to work. We can be pissed at our elected officials (Jon Tester, Steve Daines, and Greg Gianforte), but these days it feels like they have little clout to do much on the healthcare issue.

Federal Judge Reed O’Connor of Texas recently invalidated the whole Affordable Care Act (ACA) to cheers from Republicans. O’Connor is supposedly well-known for his partisan actions from the bench.

The decision caused confusion because the enrollment period was going on.

One thing to remember is that O’Conner’s decision will be appealed. If it makes it to the U.S. Supreme Court, an opinion piece in the New York Times pointed out that five justices back in 2012 already determined that the Affordable Care Act was constitutional. Those justices are still on the court.

Former President Barack Obama had this to say about the ruling:

“It’s so important for you to know that last night’s ruling changes nothing for now,” Obama wrote. “As this decision makes its way through the courts, which will take months, if not years, the law remains in place and will likely stay that way. A lot of good people are fighting to ensure that nothing about your care will change.”

Obama also offered some more advice, “The only way to convince them to stop trying to repeal this law, and start working to make health care better, is to keep voting, in big numbers, in every election, for people who’ll protect and improve our care.”

That’s good advice.

Iowa Caucus Poll: The Democrats:

A Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom Iowa Poll has Joe Biden with an 82% favorable rating in Iowa and Bernie Sanders comes in at 74%, Beta O’Rourke rates pretty high, (53% favorable), too.

There are only 14 months left until the Iowa Caucuses.

As for Montana Governor Steve Bullock, he has some work to do if he wants to be competitive in Iowa. 82% of those polled said they were “Not Sure” about Bullock.

I’m “not sure” why Bullock wants to run for President.

You can find out more about the Iowa polls and stories by visiting the Des Moines Register HERE.



6 thoughts on “The Monday Memo: Ryan Zinke, Obamacare, & Iowa Caucus

  1. Let’s pick this nit. Judge says everything in ACA is unconstitutional because there is no tax for failing to purchase insurance. Well there is a tax and it’s the very best of all taxes $0.00 If congress had repealed the section concerning taxes all together then the ACA might have been unconstitutional.

    • Carole – Good point. Like I said, I think the ACA will stick around and those in Washington should work to make it better. Thanks, JmB

    • Doug – I guess when he control the White House and the Senate you can get people like him through the process. -JmB

  2. I am not so sure Zinke is toast in Montana. The far right wing is solidly in control of the Montana Republican party. Being Zinke was a loyal Trumper and all the investigations etc. were all “fake news and lies” according to GOP base then he may have a chance to get the nod in GOP 2020 primary race for governor. Fox is to moderate for the base and I doubt base wants loser Rosendahl. Zinke has a leg up on any democrat with his name recognition. I thought Zinke may just become some K street lobbyist at $300,000 but his ego is to big to fade away in some dark inner office. I am afraid we have not seen the last of Ryan Zinke in Big Sky County.

    • Dennis – You may be right. I just think Zinke will have to fight hard to overcome the ethics scandals. Thanks, -JmB

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