When Pat Powers doesn’t want to talk about important conflicts within his party, he pretends those conflicts are boring. He’s done it with the co-optation of his party by Donald Trump; now he does it with Stanford Adelstein’s attack on Senator Phil Jensen for refusing to serve in the military during the Vietnam War and for voting against various state programs and benefits for veterans.
Powers should be all over this attack on one of his least favorite legislators. He should be happy to sit up and bark for GOP mainstreamer Rep. Jacqueline Sly, who is challenging Senator Jensen for his seat in the June 7 primary. And given his willingness to cloak really bad arguments in “Support the Troops!” hogwash, Powers should have no problem skewering Jensen on even the slightest failure to play good soldier.
But since the accusations come from someone else Powers hates, former Senator Stanford Adelstein, Powers can’t really embrace the attack. Powers still broadcasts the attack, but he also dismisses Adelstein as a fading and cranky old man who meddles in elections with his PAC money. Powers then shrugs it all away with this offhanded excuse for conscientious objectors:
The issue may resonate for Vietnam Era Veterans and their families, or possibly veterans in general, and they have every reason to feel that way. But beyond that, It’s a political attack using 44 year old information because someone, when they were 18, didn’t really want to go to fight in a controversial war during a turbulent time in our country’s history.
You know, this is one of those cases where you can’t find yourself compelled to root for anyone. And I’m not sure how effective it’s going to be in moving voters. Jensen supporters will likely excuse it, and Jensen haters are still not going to like him.
I tend to think you just watch the mudslinging for the two or three minutes of entertainment, go “meh,” and go back to whatever you were doing [Pat Powers, “Adelstein PAC attacks Jensen over objecting to Vietnam war 44 years ago. Who wins when no one is likeable?” Dakota War College, 2016.05.21].
Well, there you go. When the GOP spin machine can’t spin an issue without affirming the position of someone he doesn’t like, Powers works himself into an excuse for not supporting the troops. With cowardly agnosticism, Powers declares the whole fracas boring… but makes sure he posts the fracas in detail for all to enjoy.
Let me try to offer a clearer assessment of the attack and the coverage:
- I can understand a citizen’s choice to conscientiously object to military service. I do not think such objection disqualifies anyone from being an effective public servant in other offices.
- However, when Republicans regularly post pictures of themselves in their military uniforms and tout their service as a reason they should be legislators, it is perfectly consistent for a Republican to point out to Republican voters that one of their primary candidates refused to wear a uniform during a war.
- When Powers gleefully promotes attacks from other PACs, Powers has no ground on which to criticize Adelstein or anyone else for engaging in the same activity.
- Far from boring, a former legislator attacking a current legislator to help a different legislator get elected is a matter of political significance.
- If a story is boring, a sensible blogger does not bother posting it. But when one makes one’s living posting boring press releases from one’s sponsors, perhaps one’s boring-meter gets broken.