Commentary - August 29th, 2014
10:00 am
Thu August 28, 2014

An Open Letter to Steve Daines:

Mark Twain once observed: ”A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”  Our American Sage wasn’t wrong on that matter.  A recent example of Twain’s words was the wham-bam, thank you, ma’am destruction of one of Montana’s finest people — a man who had spent thirty-three years in service to  his country and this state.  Not once in the rush to judgment about this man, did someone of note stop to say, “Wait! Let’s look at the facts.”   

Of course, I’m talking about the public pillorying of John Walsh over the accusation that he had plagiarized his Master’s thesis — his 13-page Master’s thesis? written for a professor at the War College who apparently didn't read it before giving it a passing grade?  Plagiarism — the act of using another’s published words or ideas as one’s own—is  certainly not an ethical thing to do, but Walsh gave credit in the footnotes.  At worst, that’s an act of omission, not commission.  The way the newspapers of the state carried on though, you’d think the man hadn’t served as a Commander, hadn’t had the lives of hundreds of men and women in his hands, hadn’t served at the Lt.Governor of this state, hadn’t been handling the job of United States senator with courage, intelligence, alacrity, and honor.  Walsh had already proven himself time and time again, and yet his character was brought into immediate question.    

I think this was nothing more or less than a pure case of dirty politics.  Walsh was gaining on you in the polls; something had to be done.  So, in swift-boat style, your people took Walsh down in a manner that we’ve come to expect from those who play politics and us, the voters, like a fine-tuned instrument.  Make an accusation; have the minions ready to say how this action will ruin the opponent; say it enough times and people begin to believe it without really considering the other side.  Nasty. Dirty. Character Assassination.  Mmmm — nothing finer than bringing down an opponent in such a manner.  Let’s not waste time comparing ideas or plans or debating each other; just gut him and leave him to die along the roadside while the opponent gallops on into town, kissing babies and telling more lies to that most gullible of entities: the voters.  

I have to say, Mr. Daines, that you and your team followed the formula to the letter.  You’ve taken the reputation of a good man who did little more in his life than to serve his country and state selflessly for his entire career, and you’ve ruined that reputation in order to advance your own career.  Well played, Daines, it’s just one more example of what you, and the likes of Mitt Romney, do.  You made your money by  aiding Proctor and Gamble in their move to China.  You paved the way for them, so that the profits they were making have doubled, tripled, quadrupled under your leadership.  Never mind that you left in your wake the destruction of people in this country who needed those jobs, of towns that depended on that company in order to survive.  Not to worry though — it’s just business, right?  It’s just politics, right?  

To me, though, and I’m betting to a whole lot of Montanans, it’s not just business; it’s not just politics.  It’s dirty pool. It’s not illegal; it’s just not the way I think people who would represent us should comport themselves.  

One of your big claims is that you built a good business in Bozeman and created many jobs, but you did that with the money you earned from Proctor and Gamble, guiding that company into China and its cheap work force.  FactCheck says that there’s no clear line between you and the factories built in China; P&G says you were just “an employee selling our products.”  Like Romney though you were in the business of destroying American jobs and making huge profits on people who will work for less than a dollar an hour, in 12 hour shifts, with enforced overtime, no insurance, and only four days off per month.  There’s something wrong with spending six years of your life working for such an end.  

Since your tenure in the Congress, you’ve stayed with the party line about 87% of the time, voting yourself a nice, fat raise, but voting against such things as the minimum wage bill,  food stamps for the poor; you were a big part of the government shut-down which cost just this state alone 45 million dollars.  According to Project Vote Smart, you voted to sue the President and you certainly hung with the Republicans on trying to overturn the now successful Obamacare some 17 times, to the tune of millions of dollars.   You voted against the Veterans’ Bill, wobbled on Tester’s Parks and Recreation bill, and you left town for a nice, long vacation before taking any action on the human lives that hang in the balance along our southern border.  

Beyond what I would call a party-line mentality, you have some plans for Montana too, don’t you?  I know you to be a proponent of the privatization of public schools, implementing biblical theory into the science curriculum, and the one that worries me the most: the buying up of public lands so that water rights can come under the control of such vile personages as the Koch Brothers, so that our lands can be sold to the highest bidders — and guess who’s going to benefit from those sales?  

You’re a piece of work, Daines — and compared to you, John Walsh is a Boy Scout.  What’s a little plagiarism on one paper compared to the malfeasance you’ve committed in your life?   Mark Twain also wrote the following as if to guide you: “Get your facts first and then you can distort them as much as possible.” 

This is Pat Rosenleaf, who hopes the people of Montana will see the facts, not the distortions.