Ryan Zinke’s transformation from a self-described “moderate” to a fire-breathing TEA Party Republican over the past twelve months has proved an amusing illustration of political opportunism, but there are moments when Zinke crosses the line from being a politician to being a truly despicable human being. This week saw Zinke at his worst, a candidate willing to smear the reputation of an American solider who was in Taliban captivity for five years.
On his campaign web site, Zinke writes:
“The President should be using all available means to return Sgt. Tahmooresi,” continued Zinke. “He should immediately close the border until Sgt. Tahmooresi and mobilize the 1st marine division to the border until Sgt. Tahmooresi is returned home. Our service member is being treated like a POW and President Obama has spent more time trading a deserter for terrorists and attending fundraising events than he has spent helping a young Marine.”
The “deserter” Zinke refers to twice in the press release is Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was held a prisoner by Afghan militants from 2009-2014.
Zinke has no idea, other than what he’s learned from Fox News, what led Sgt. Bergdahl to be captured by the Taliban. The Army is putting Bergdahl back on active duty while it investigates the matter, and investigation that will determine just what happened, no matter how loudly the chicken hawks on Fox howl at the President.
Contrast what Zinke had to say about Bergdahl’s release with the statement of Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, who said:
“Soon we all will celebrate Bowe’s freedom and homecoming. It is our ethos that we never leave a fallen comrade. Today we have back in our ranks the only remaining captured soldier from our conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Zinke’s despicable willingness to smear Sergeant Bergdahl wasn’t the only slice of Fox News crazy his press release offered up: he called for sending a division of Marines to the border of Mexico and shutting down trade with our third largest trading partner to force Mexico to turn over Sgt. Andrew Tahmooresi, who was charged and jailed for crossing the Mexican border with illegal guns and 400 rounds of ammunition.
Once again, Zinke is substituting Fox News manufactured outrage for reasoned judgment and respect for the law. Just like in the Bergdahl case, he has no idea what happened when Sgt. Tahmooressi was arrested, and is more interested in stoking the fire than engaging in a reasoned response.
It’s gotten so bad that both Sgt.Tahmooressi’s mother and attorney have asked the conservative lunatics to stop, saying that efforts to circumvent Mexico’s laws are hurting the Marine:
The jingoistic intensity around this issue has become so extreme that Tahmooressi’s mother, Jill, was moved to issue an “urgent” plea on Facebook to his “passionate supporters,” asking them to stop their crazy talk (my words) about breaking him out of prison on their own.
“That is not an acceptable action,” she wrote. “Please honor our request to wait for the legal process to resolve this.”
Criminal defense attorney and veteran’s advocate Philip Dunn, who was with Jill Tahmooressi in Tijuana on Wednesday, was even more blunt. He told Tony Perry that Andrew Tahmooressi is not being helped by “all these blowhards who have no respect for the dignity of a sovereign nation and its judicial system.”
It seems that Senator Zinke has either forgotten that he’s not running to be the craziest candidate in a field of five loons or he actually believes this nonsense. In either case, he’s not worth of representing Montana in Congress.