It’s like he just can’t help himself: despite being called out for illegally using the Navy SEAL insignia during his first campaign for Congress and while he ran the Super PAC that he led until days before announcing for his bid, Congressman Zinke is back at it, promoting his candidacy for re-election with Facebook ads that show him in uniform, in ads that do not contain the standard disclaimer required by the Department of Defense.
From my Facebook feed today:
That Zinke can’t seem to follow the DOD policy makes sense, as his entire justification for re-election is that he once served as a SEAL. On his official Congressional page, he offers press releases with headlines like “Navy SEAL Commander-Turned-Congressman Ryan Zinke Slams Obama For Plan To Bring Terrorists To America” and occasionally even brags about the specific number of people he killed while in service. His seemingly limitless capacity for self-aggrandizement is somewhere between parodic and repulsive, and reflects a cultivated effort to obscure the truth about his service in Congress: that he has failed to make any meaningful impact and has done little for the people of Montana.
What’s more, he needs to distract his conservative base by reminding them of his military service. They never really trusted him given his position on guns, abortion, and the environment, and he’s betrayed them by voting for Speaker Boehner, for the omnibus spending bill, and for what they see as programs that will allow refugees to settle in the United States. Immediately after those votes, his Facebook page was filled with bitter denunciations of people who felt Zinke had talked a conservative game but voted with the Washington establishment. Since then, it’s all SEALS all the time, with the occasional foray into xenophobic attacks on refugees.
Perhaps having been a SEAL was a reason for the people of Montana to have elected Congressman Zinke once, but it’s not a reason to re-elect him, no matter how often and how pathetically he reminds us of those days. His job now is to represent his constituents, not rest on past achievements. His inability to move past those experiences reminds this English teacher of the way F. Scott Fitzgerald described Tom Buchannan, a man whose life was never as a exciting as when he played football as a young man: “One of those men who reach such an acute limited excellence at twenty-one that everything afterward savors of anti-climax.”
Everyone in Montana knows you were a SEAL, Congressman. It’s time to run a campaign on what you’ve done for Montana as its Representative in the House. And it’s time to respect the military you talk about so often, and start following their important guidelines about partisan campaigning. It’s hard to imagine respecting your campaign when you can’t respect that basic set of guidelines.