Steve Daines Continues His Dishonorable Assault on John Walsh’s Military Record

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.

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba has been writing about Montana politics since 2005 and teaching high school English since 2000. He's a former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.


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  • Democrats and Republicans are identical in so many respects, adulation of people in military uniforms but one. In my view, a man never thinks a thought of his own until he leaves the military, as basic training by design 1) breaks down the individual human with a group cog, and 2) destroys compassion for others.
    I’ve yet to hear an original thought from Walsh nor do I sense any empathy in his affected public utterances.

  • MarkTokarski Obviously, Again No empirical evidence to back your equivalency claim,.the only thing duller than Daine’s Debate with Walsh is your droning. Thankfully no one in Montana should listen to  a Coloradoan. who cant vote here, … a guy who doesn’t know diddly about anything except the man in the mirror.

  • The best thing I can say about wishy walshy is that he isn’t yet chasing tennis balls and drinking outta the toilet!  At least not to my knowledge!  I mean, how dumb IS this guy?  Who is he trying to appeal to  by saying that he wants to privatize social security?  I don’t get it.  All he really needs to say is that I will save public lands and protect social security.  And then, he’d have a club with which to beat up daines! Now, all he’s got is his tennis ball!  He’s sen. cornhole burns in cammo!

  • Coming home to my former home state today. it’s where I lived for 59 years, raised my kids, ran for office, hiked and backpacked the wilderness areas, still have many friends and own some property. Politics was difficult to grasp, and it took many years to begin to understand the oligarchical structure, especially the manner in which the local media supports whoever is in power in either party and let’s them have a free ride. That was baffling.
    One thing will be apparent today – we will drive through mile after mile of lands with hardly any people, and yet each of these barren landscapes will have two senators in Helena. That is a lot of the problem, too much power invested in ranchers and landowners. That explains part of the political power structure, and is why people like Burns and Baucus and Tester hold office – landowners keep them there. But there was also the Copper Collar, the stranglehold that the Rockefeller Trusts had on the state via Anaconda Company, owning most of the newspapers and politicians in the state until Lee bought the papers, leaving the politicians to the highest bidders. Lee taking over yielded not much better news coverage. Corruption was endemic, still is, with a few brave souls like Towe, Lesniak, Blaylock, Motl standing out in an otherwise mediocre field of so-so’s. The men and women who gave us our wilderness and have kept so much of the state roadless, and continue to fight for us, people like Garrity and Kelly and Koehler, are solid citizens. Otherwise, it’s a political backwater.
    Enough empirical evidence to back my equivalency claim, Norma? I got more. Lots of it.

  • MarkTokarski But you still cant vote here Mark, because you haven’t lived here for years…..
     I don’t care whatever fairy tales you spin about Montana anymore or your own life….. You’re just like any outside political groups who spin tails about Montana. A Bad fiction writer about the USA policy as well. 
    A Colorado carpetbagger, who for some reason, never even really writes about his own domicile state Colorado. A man who so confused about life in general he’s built his own fairyland bubble.
    Your outta of your league about Montana now, ….. and you cant live vicariously through your past, or through your Children any more….. the state is changing without you present.
    Your opinions are out of date, and devoid of any fact . We all know this because you say the same shit over and over and Over…. your Idea of equivancy comes with a your thumb on the scale in Colorado,… When all I have to do is look out the window or walk around my state of Montana, and talk to my Communities to know you are wrong. Save it for your blog readers Mark.
    Everyone in Montana is laughing at you

  • Substance-free personal attacks, your usual fare. You’re an angry person, to boot. Where did I say that Colorado and Montana are different? Colorado is run by an oligarchical structure, just like Montana. It’s politicians are appointed, though people vote for them after they are selected to run. Hickenlooper is old money, as is Udall, each could as easily be Republicans with just a little nuance and shading of their voting records to fool a gullible public. Michael Bennet is corrupt to his Italian loafers, and Obama went out of his way to assure that he stayed in office. State and local news is as content-free and airy there as here.
    I am a registered voter in CO and I occasionally vote for a person or issue if there is genuine choice. There rarely is with two money-backed corrupt parties who squeeze all the oxygen out of the system.
    Here’s Carroll Quigley writing in the 1960’s about the wisdom behind how our politics is structured: “The chief problem of American political life for a long time has been how to make the two Congressional parties more national and international. The argument that the two parties should represent opposed ideals and policies, one, perhaps of the Right and the other of the Left, is a foolish idea acceptable only to doctrinaire and academic thinkers. Instead, the two parties should be almost identical, so that the American people can “throw the rascals out” at any election without leading to any profound or extensive shifts in policy.”
    The reasoning is that the American public is largely uneducated and prone to emotional outbursts, so that they need to think they have a hand in policy debates while kept in the dark. It is sadly true, and Quigley, Bill Clinton’s favorite professor at Yale, is correct. Running the country cannot be left to voters. It’s a loony bin out there – have you noticed?
    The problem is that the oligarchs of our land, and this goes back, IMO, to a purge called “McCarthyism” in the 1950’s, are no better at running the place than the public.
    Anyway, TETL. And if I wanted more readers at my blog, I would dumb it down, write about D’s and R’s and elections. I see how that gets everyone stirred up. But I don’t. It’s pointless.

  • MarkTokarski So all you can do is attack me for being right?  Blather on about crap that has nothing to do with the issues here.

    Do you not see your problem yet Mark or do we have to continue spelling it out for you?? Just wondering because you went straight off a cliff in reality there? The boogieman concept you conceive here for Montanans is disingenuous at best, flat bad fiction writing at its normal.

    And why bother Smart people in Montana with crazy Colorado talk, when you have websites like and other red meat sites to comment on who would take your fear baiting scribbles with open arms while waving Gadsden flags…..

    Honestly Mark you haven’t changed any of your commentary for as long as I known you on the web.Same Dumb Equivalency BS…. What a…..

  • Why is Neely coming out against Walsh now, why didn’t she complain or file when Walsh was the Adjutant General?

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