Calling Out Daines And Zinke

Oct 7, 2014

Guest commentaries do not necessarily represent the views of MTPR.

In what must be their PR people’s worst nightmares, both Steve Daines (R. candidate for US Senate) and Ryan Zinke (R. candidate for US House) have recently shown their true characters, and it ain’t pretty, folks.  

According to the Billings Gazette,  one of the state’s most conservative newspapers, Steve Daines was caught in a web of lies.  In a glossy flyer which Daines termed “informative,” rather than political, and for the mailing of which he used franking privileges (that would be our tax money)  to mail to Montana voters, he claimed to have met with Marine leaders to discuss veteran issues.  No, say those vets, he never met with us — he just photoshopped himself glad-handing some veterans who were standing in a line.  The Commander of the Marine League shot missives off to both Daines’ Helena and Washington offices, demanding an explanation and also asking whether Daines was exploiting them for political gain.  As of many days later, they had received no reply.   Considering Daines’s abysmal voting record on veteran issues, he should be hanging his head in shame.  In one of his many slick television ads, he does the same thing with a self-proclaimed “union  powerhouse worker.”  The man, Bob Winger, is a former local president of the Boilermaker’s union who was ousted for his far-out political views and has since retired.  Winger makes claims that sound as if the unions are backing Daines and that Daines is working for unions and the common working man.   Daines’s zero voting record for unions from the AFL/CIO certainly belies those claims.  

Then there’s Ryan Zinke who has stated that most of his campaign contributions have come from out of state because “Montanans are all poor.”  Do you think he knows his constituency?  Ryan Zinke has misrepresented his service record and appears to be running on little more than the fact that he was a Navy Seal and his grandmother ran away from home.  He claims to have been on the team that killed Osama bin Laden even though he’d retired three years before that event.  Now, I have all due respect for the Navy Seals, and surely one must possess physical prowess to pass the rigorous requirements of that elite group, but his use and abuse of his service record, using official military logos for his campaign bus directly forbidden by Navy code all point to a person who is both conveniently slipshod in his memory and disdainful of authority. 

According to Don Pogreba’s blog Intelligent Discontent, add to his service record the fact that Zinke recently “released a half-baked…’plan’ to help address the healthcare needs of American veterans. Putting aside that Zinke’s ‘solutions’ are largely conservative ideological claims like the need to ‘fire’ bad administrators, privatize care, and not spend a single cent more on veterans (emphasis mine); the most appalling element of Zinke’s proposal is how he plans to solve the crisis of mental illness, specifically PTSD, in the military.”  Zinke’s suggestion: eschew mental health support and just go to the local American Legion hall and talk it out.  That suggestion is both horrifying and beyond ignorant.  Apparently, Zinke adheres to the ol’ “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” theory of rehabilitation despite his “receive(ing) benefits for an 80% disability from the military,(and yet) being able to run in ‘Spartan’ races.”

All in all, both Daines and Zinke are the worst kind of candidates: slickly packaged with ads that are total misrepresentations, (the pink-haired woman,the one that states John Lewis wrote the Affordable Care Act) repeated so often that people begin to believe them though they’ve been adamantly discredited by Fact Check and other sources.  These two men are richly supported with out-of-state dark funds from such backers as the Koch Brothers and ALEC which support and run their campaigns.  They have no positive plans for Montana: just the exploitation of our beautiful state, the tearing down of our public schools, the selling off of our public lands, privatizing schools and other institutions which will turn them and their billionaire supporters a tidy profit.  They are removed, disinterested, profit-motivated, and absolutely without conscience.  They are NOT what we need in Washington representing us. 

I think the quintessential comment about these men can be found in the interesting fact that Daines took the “ice-bucket challenge,” a couple of weeks ago— all good natured and workin’ for the regular guy when in actuality he voted against ALS funding in Congress.  What you see is not what you’re going to get if you vote for either of these men.   And if we send either of them to Congress, we’re going to get just what we deserve for being complacent and more interested in who the bachelorette chooses than what’s in store for our state.  

This is Patricia Rosenleaf who believes that we are masters of our own fate.