What happens to democratic elections when a press corps refuses to hold a candidate accountable for such repeated, perfidious dishonesty that his campaign seems less an authentic run for office than a heavy-handed satire about the dishonesty of politicians? It seems we’re about to find out here in Montana, where former State Senator Ryan Zinke has run such a dishonest campaign that he can’t even help but contradict himself on issues tangential to the race in the state.
Today, Mr. Zinke, after calling for a volunteer militia to us US military equipment to threaten invading Mexico to cause our ally to return a US marine arrested and currently imprisoned there, claimed he was just kidding…or something.
Today, in The Hill:
When asked to clarify his views on the situation, Zinke said he wasn’t seriously advocating moving Marines toward the Mexican border, but “certainly we can put pressure on Mexico to know we’re serious about our Marine.
When talking to the nut brigade at Breitbart on August 24 it seemed like he wasn’t kidding:
“If I was the first executive of the United States, I would have called the first marine division and told them to go get their marine back, and I would give them the equipment to do it,” he told Breitbart News Saturday co-hosts Executive Chairman Stephen K. Bannon and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Marlow
And on his own campaign web site on July 26, he must have forgotten the smiley face at the end of this line:
“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.
What’s not serious is this clown’s candidacy, which has featured lies and flip flops on every important political issue facing the state, from reproductive rights to gun control.
What’s more serious, it seems, is that we appear to have a political press either entirely overworked and/or incapable of adequately covering political races unless someone hands them the story—and even then, they don’t always follow through. How much more of a record of dissembling and outright dishonesty does the Montana press need to run a story about Zinke’s persistent commitment to political expediency or principle? Maybe they’re waiting for the New York Times to highlight some passages.
It’s a joke alright, but the humor’s likely to be lost on Montanans who can’t count on the political press to do its basic function: informing the electorate.