GUEST POST: Zinke Failed Veterans, Military and is Unfit to Lead

by Josh Manning 

Manning is military veteran, and state civil rights investigator who lives in Helena. Follow him on Twitter @joshuamanning23

I have been waiting three weeks for Congressman Ryan Zinke to make a solid denunciation of the comments Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump has made about veterans and their families. He has been silent. The most Zinke has said is that he does not agree with Trump 100% of the time. So is it 99.99%? And what does he not agree with? Trump’s tie choices? His ties to Russian oligarchs and mafia officials? (Hint: They are the same thing and they are in deep with Trump Enterprises.) That Trump did not select him as vice president?

Zinke, as usual, offers no details or strong opinions. So I am going to run with the theory this he is fine with Trump demeaning prisoners of war as not heroes. That he is okay with Trump’s lie that he contributed millions of dollars to veterans’ causes when he did not contribute anything until exposed as a fraud. That he is content with Trump’s disgusting comments toward Khizr, Ghazala, and Captain Humayun Khan.

A few veterans and I spoke out about these things last week. During that press conference, a reporter asked if we would endorse Denise Juneau for Congress. I did not want to answer for them or for all veterans but I want to write here that I fully, unequivocally endorse Superintendent of Public Instruction Juneau as the best choice to replace our current first term congressman. I was more than happy to work from the sidelines to help her campaign after she first announced and I have contributed to her campaign. With Zinke taking this coward’s way with Trump, the danger is now more apparent of how poorly he represents this state. I am going to sing from the mountaintops how important it is that she become our next congressional representative and the first woman in 100 years to represent our great state. She will be more than able to take the mantle of Jeannette Rankin.

An attack on veterans or their families is an attack on all of us–no matter what our political beliefs. Three weeks ago would have been a good time for Zinke to show up. This shows how he does not stand with veterans. He does not stand with Montanans. He stands alone for his own career and profit. It is beyond time for him to show some leadership or get out of the way for someone who can. We have that in Denise Juneau.

I teamed up with Missoula Representative Andrew Person to create a page where veterans and families can come show their support for Juneau. You can find it here. I also urge Cowgirl readers to do what they can to support Representative Person, a combat veteran who is in a tough race. We need people like him in the legislature and to build the bench for the future.

Denise JuneauI have heard Zinke has a lot of respect among Montana Republicans and even some Democrats. I do not understand why. Two years ago, when he ran on his his military service he seemed like a fraud and I have long felt, if I may, that he “trumped up” his military accomplishments. My opinion has been strengthened by his recent inactions and I know other veterans can read between the lines.

Zinke has failed the military and veterans recently and throughout his time in Congress. Here are a few examples, though I am sure readers have more:

Our congressman said a war against Syria would be easy (minute 14:10 to 14:15). Ask anyone who fought Fallujah or Bagram or Hanoi or Omaha Beach if war is “easy.” There is no such thing as easy in war or combat and anyone who tells you that is selling snake oil. I want someone representing Montana who understands hardship and what leadership means. Someone who won’t foolishly or carelessly send the people we see at baseball games or on the trails or at the grocery store into harms way.

He told veterans who receive benefits that they are in “economic slavery,” yet that is ignorant of how he too has received those same benefits. Zinke, like Trump, has played fast and loose with the idea of privatizing the Veteran’s Administration. This would be a disaster for an organization already buckling under the weight of so many wars.

He has missed critical veterans votes because he was too busy promoting himself on Fox News. Zinke ensured he was on TV or promoting his brand but missed Congressional votes allowing businesses and local governments to give preference to veterans in hiring.

Not to mention his affiliated political action committees seem like they are ripe for scandals.

Like thousands of Montanans, Zinke has worn our nation’s uniform but he does not represent the beliefs so many of veterans hold dear. It is the person who has not worn the uniform but who through hardship, tenacity, and intelligence has earned my utmost respect. The choice is clear and Montana’s best path forward must involve Denise Juneau in Congress.

As Richard Hugo wrote in “Driving Montana”: Tomorrow will open again, the sky wide.


20 Comments on "GUEST POST: Zinke Failed Veterans, Military and is Unfit to Lead"

  1. Thank you for this. Zinke is a failure in nearly any respect one cares to consider. As a veteran, I will tell you who are not to NEVER, NEVER, EVER trust anyone who trades on their military record for position.

  2. Is there a PAC or someone who could make a few hard-hitting ads about this we could distribute on Facebook? Much of rural western Montana does not see TV ads, but if we got some on Facebook, they will get distributed widely. Veteran care is a HUGE issue out here.

  3. He has yet, if he ever will, sign on as a cosponsor of H.R.969 – Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2015. This is the bill that will include those Navy sailors and their families who operated off the coast of Vietnam as being eligible for benefits for being exposed to Agent Orange and all its different colors.

  4. And don’t forget Commando Zinke’s UTTER lack of Moral Courage to DENOUNCE attacks by Trump against fellow NAVY officer John McCain, and calling ALL Pows LOSERS for getting captured!

  5. I think Zink is a braggart. I wonder if he is pouting about not getting the Veep nod. Maybe he didn’t “vet” well. He likely thinks that he is still under consideration for Secretary of Defense. Perhaps “The” would anoint him as Ambassador to Mexico. I think he became a one term congressman as soon has he hitched his wagon to Gump’s star…let’s hope so.

  6. “This is where being a veteran matters,” Zinke said, “because no one cares more about veterans than I do.

    This has got to be one of Commando Zinke’s most PATRONIZING and condescending insults of all, implying that non-veterans don’t matter, and he – the SUPER SEAL – superior to all other veterans who question Zinke’s motives.

  7. As a Naval Officer, Commander Zinke should be well aware of the POW Code of Conduct and how well Senator McCain lived up to it, but apparently he has forgotten it or more likely chooses to ignore it since it interferes with the sense of entitlement that he shares with Trump. If he were still on active duty this would seem to make him guilty of conduct unbecoming of an Officer.

    • As a vietnam veteran myself I could not eloquently have said this better than you!

    • SHAME on Zinke for not DENOUNCING Trump’s vicious insults of John McCain,fellow NAVY officer who ENDURED
      six years of Torture while Trump was the Playboy of New York City and avoided service!

  8. One thing we all need to keep in mind re the military experience that Zinke has touted as his qualification for office – and actually the only qualification he has offered – is his training as a SEAL. That training is very specific: I’ll bet Z knows 22 ways to kill me in 10 seconds or less. But he doesn’t know one damned thing about representing Montanans. Once forced off active duty (look it up!) he quickly donned fringe GOP blinders, blotted out half his DD214, and wrapped himself in the flag. We had names for guys like that aboard ship in Tonkin Gulf, but I’m too polite.

  9. I’m a U.S. Army veteran. I served in the cold Cold War. We were face-to-face with the Soviet Union forces. Each side was watching and waiting for the other to make a mistake. Each side had a finger on the button that would launch theater nuclear weapons. Europe could easily have been reduced to radio-active dust. I’m no hero. I was just another pawn on that chess board. But, I do realize that we served an important role over there. Ryan Zinke, one among 434 others, is no pawn; but, he is not qualified to be Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives much less the Vice President of the United States. The man’s ego is extraordinarily disproportionate to his qualifications, and he needs to understand that his role is to serve all Montanans, particular the Hot War veterans who need help, and not his inflated ego. If he will not, he must be replaced by someone else. I am glad Josh Manning is speaking out. All Veterans in Montana need to speak directly to Ryan Zinke and make it abundantly clear what we expect of him.

  10. “Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.” George Washington

  11. Zinke makes the same mistake too many others do-label us soldiers all as heroes. The vast majority of us are simply patriots. True heroes are a small portion of us and we should all hold them in utmost respect but post Vietnam it became standard practice to award “participation ribbons” that required small details like that “V” previously discussed to distinguish between the two. Zinke deserves his ribbon for showing up but his service in Congress definitely hasn’t earned him a qualification for Valor. I just got an email from Daines in reply to my asking him if he still support or endorses Trump in which claims Senate rules forbid Senators from weighing in on political races. Obviously he lacks the same courage as Zinke when it comes to Trump. Give them their participation ribbon but send them home. BTW 4 of the 5 brothers in my family served and the one who didn’t was physically unable. None of us have been Democrats but it’s become as conservative as the GOP used to be. The Republican Party has lost it’s way and voting them out entirely is the only way to steer them back to their roots. Never thought I’d say this but survival of our democratic republic demand we “vote blue, no matter who”. Maybe then by 2020 we will have a candidate we can be proud of.

  12. sorry I left out a sentence. I was not silly enough to be a SEAL so I can’t speak first-hand about Zinke’s service as a Seal. I’ll leave that to others. “Cowardice of our convictions” seems to be the new motto of Republicans who support the Tangerine Tyrant making us a world-wide laughing stock. It only requires a tiny bit of courage to denounce this wannabe Tin Pot Dictator. I do have to say I’m not nearly as afraid of him as I am of his followers.

  13. The Congressman is big on war but against Veterans. When it began Showtime to go after Some B. His boos commander made sure he was not around. Even the Navy thinks he can not lead.

  14. A very major win for Monsanto!
    Also a major win for Coal Companies doubly subsidized in Montana! (Understating volume mined! Understating Sale Price/Profit; by selling at low price to a tax-dodge shell!)
    A major win for dominant political Party in Montana. No TV Debates for the incumbent Representative to the House of the People, in our Nations’ Capitol.
    Yet another win for the Establishment! Only three Radio Debates between the two Candidates for the one Office to serve to Represent Montana, during these critical times, in the House of Representatives.
    Win #5. People and Blogs find more important stuff to do, than spread the word about #1 Radio Debate today. Between the Candidate with Native, native intelligence. And the Candidate bound and determined to protect Big Coal and Monsanto.


    This is REAL COURAGE, to speak Truth to Power, even though fellow veterans ‘seduced’ by Zinke and Trump don’t like free speech from other veterans…

  16. I had the honor of standing with three of those Vietnam veterans and was humbled by how much we had in common even though our service dates are nearly 40 years apart. I hope they and all Montana veterans who stand for sanity in leadership will join up to show our support for a real Montana leader. If you feel that way, please join us here: (I’m not linking a blog, just showing everyone a place to join forces. It’s also in the article above.)

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