It’s hard not to read the news that the Bumbler-in-Chief outed a member of a Navy SEAL team yesterday without recalling that revealing details about special operations (before turning the issue into financial and political gain) was a move first popularized by his outgoing Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke.
Long-time readers of this blog certainly know that it’s never made sense to me that Zinke never faced criticism for his decision to steal the glory of the SEAL Team that killed Osama bin Laden, reveal specific details about the operation before the public even knew who was behind the raid, and finally, turn his hypocritical outrage into a personally enriching
Zinke, who led such a charmed media life in Montana that the state’s largest newspaper once wrote an editorial condemning a Zinke opponent for revealing that Zinke had joked about torturing people and ran a Congressional campaign from his home in Santa Barbara, California without facing any real scrutiny, was never asked to explain why he was calling newspapers across the country and giving interviews to any outlet that would listen to him talk about the bin Laden raid or why he later publicly condemned other public officials for actions much less serious than his own.
Once Zinke got to D.C., his charmed life came, much as I predicted it would, to an end: faced with a press corps hungry for scandal and willing to dig in, Zinke was forced out of the Trump Administration after two years of bad decisions that will scar our nation for generations. Already, though, there is a narrative emerging in some of the pieces about Zinke, that a “rising star” and “independent thinker” from Montana was somehow corrupted by the swamp.
And nothing could be more removed from the truth. From the moment Zinke got a taste of fame and decided that his political ambitions were national, not local, he transformed from the reasonably moderate, pro-choice, pro-environment legislator from Whitefish into yet another grasping Republican willing to appease an increasingly rabid base with whatever claims would appease them.
D.C. didn’t corrupt Ryan Zinke; Ryan Zinke helped make D.C. more corrupt.
When he moves on to whatever scheme to personally enrich himself that comes next, I’ll still be thinking about the former SEAL who became persona non grata in the very SEAL community where he served for years because he put his ambition above the team, above the truth, and above honor.
When Donald Trump outed the SEAL chaplain and revealed classified information, it was yet another idiotic act from someone incapable of doing the task he was somehow elected to do. With Ryan Zinke, it was always a choice to put his ambition ahead of anything else.
Let’s never forget that, no matter where and when he resurfaces.