Montana Politics Ryan Zinke

Ryan Zinke, Montana Can Do Better. Montana Must Do Better.

Written by Don Pogreba
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Back in the 2014, when he was making his first run for Congress, Montana Democrats (and this blog) focused a great deal on the times when Ryan Zinke was reprimanded for lapses in judgment during his time as a Navy SEAL. While we’ll likely never know the truth about those lapses and the impact they had on his military career, we do know how Congressman Zinke excused his behavior. He told the press that they were the errors of younger man who had learned from the mistakes he’d made.

Little has changed, it seems, as Congressman Zinke seems to repeatedly demonstrate that he lacks the judgment to represent the people of Montana. While he’s ideally suited to a life of offering commentary in 45 second sound bites on Fox News and defending the likes of Donald Trump, he simply doesn’t have the judgment to be Montana’s voice in the House of Representatives.

That lack of judgment seems especially pertinent in a week during which he’s been exposed for having an association with a Ponzi schemer, palling around with a secessionist, asserting that homosexuality is a choice, ducking a Congressional forum in Bozeman, and choosing to continue to support a candidate for President despite that candidate admitting to having sexually assaulted women.

That’s just this week.

In the past few years, Zinke has:

  • joked about illegally using torture as a member of the military.
  • appointed the guy who ran his Super PAC as his Congressional Chief of Staff.
  • rented office space to his former, personal Super PAC during his first Congressional campaign.
  • raised almost 90% of his campaign funds from outside of Montana.
  • said that he can’t raise much money from Montana voters because “they’re all poor.”
  • called for the invasion of Mexico.
  • hosted a meeting with and recorded a video with a racist hate group–at his Congressional office.
  • seriously suggested that would be chosen as Speaker of the House, Republican Vice Presidential candidate, and Secretary of Defense during his first 16 months in office.
  • repeatedly insulted Montana’s American Indian population.
  • called the leaders of a pro-life group in Montana liars.
  • outed the members of Navy SEAL Team Six who led the raid against Osama bin Laden.
  • praised Vladimir Putin’s authoritarian rule and Saddam Hussein’s use of draconian measures to control his population.
  • made racist remarks about African-Americans.

All of that is off the top of my head. The final tally of Zinke’s lapses in judgment as a candidate and Congressman far exceeds my ability to recall them on a lovely Saturday morning. His youthful lapses in judgment seem to have lasted well into his fifties, and there’s little to suggest that Zinke will develop into a more stable, experienced leader as time passes. It certainly hasn’t worked for Donald Trump.

When Montana newspapers are considering their endorsements for Congress, I hope judgment is at the top of their considerations. Zinke’s latest lapse, continuing to support a man like Donald Trump for President, is only the latest in a series of disqualifying lapses. When Montana’s editorial boards are weighing their choice, they absolutely must consider not only this list of egregious errors in judgment, as well as Congressman Zinke’s enthusiastic support for a man so dangerous to the Republic that newspaper after newspaper, even some that have never endorsed a Democrat, have supported Hillary Clinton in a effort to keep a deranged, dangerous, narcissistic sociopath from leading the US military and our foreign policy.

Congressman Zinke has enthusiastically endorsed a man whose grasp on policy is as weak as his grasp on ethics, a man who justifies sexual assault on women because he’s famous, a man who wants to lead our military without knowing who our allies are or what the Nuclear Triad is, a man whose personal failings will embolden our enemies and whose policy weaknesses will weaken our nation.

His support for Donald Trump, it seems, is no abberation. It’s the logical end for a man so consumed with self-aggrandizement and personal regard that a person like Trump actually seems like a legitimate candidate to lead our nation, a role model for a man who puts self ahead of country.

Congressman Zinke made his choices. Now it’s time for us to make ours—and elect a woman to Congress whose judgment and experience will make us proud.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a seventeen-year teacher of English, 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. 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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