Despite a lead in the polls the Daines campaign likes to tout any opportunity they have, it seems clear they’re nervous about Senator John Walsh—and willing to do anything it takes to discredit a man who chose to serve in the military for most of his adult life while Representative Daines was more interested in building his personal wealth.
In his latest ad, Daines is highlighting the story of a woman who claims, without any evidence, that she was discriminated against in the National Guard. Rather than fighting the discrimination, the woman in the ad, Cindy Neely, chose to quit—and wasn’t even qualified for the job she wanted. When asked to comment, the National Guard say that Neely’s claims were untrue.
Senator Walsh has an exemplary record of military service. His full record release demonstrates that. Don’t believe me? Ask Steve Daines, who called Walsh an ideal candidate for an important military job just over a year ago. According to Daines:
"We are proud to recommend the nomination of Brigadier General John Walsh," Tester, Baucus and Daines wrote. "Drawing upon his vast command experience and his keen awareness of force structure requirements, and the working relationships he has formed with military and civilian leadership, we believe General Walsh would be an ideal candidate for this Commission."
It makes sense strategically (if incredibly cynically) for Daines to attack John Walsh on military issues: its purpose is to provide cover for Daines, who has consistently voted against the interest of Montana veterans.
The Daines strategy comes right out of the Karl Rove playbook: attack an opponent on his/her strengths, doing and saying whatever it takes to distort the truth. The difference between the two men, when it comes to military service and commitment to those who have served, couldn’t be clearer—no matter how much mud the Daines campaign flings.
I think it’s also meant to hide a difference between Senator Walsh and Representative Daines. Walsh was born in 1960, Daines in 1962. The difference is that Senator Walsh chose to serve his country, enlisting in the National Guard right out of high school in 1979. Daines, despite claiming that he was inspired by Ronald Reagan, didn’t chose to serve, preferring to vote for a party committed to the Cold War and some hot conflicts around the globe, while asking other people to shoulder those risks for him. No one should feel committed to join the military, but the spectacle of a man who claims to have been inspired by Reagan, who supports US military adventurism, and who chose not to take those risks himself running attack ads against a man he commended for his military service little more than a month ago is nauseating.
No number of dishonest ads will change the fact that Senator Walsh will support those who have chosen to serve our nation’s military while Representative Daines seems committed to only serving himself.