Adelstein Confuses Powers with Attack on Jensen’s Objection to Serving in Vietnam

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Far from boring, a former legislator attacking a current legislator to help a different legislator get elected is a matter of political significance.
  5. 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.

10 Responses to Adelstein Confuses Powers with Attack on Jensen’s Objection to Serving in Vietnam

  1. W R Old Guy

    I am a veteran that served during the Vietnam era. Being a conscientious objector is not a deal breaker for me. Voting against veterans programs and introducing bills in the SD Legislature that are unconstitutional or just plain idiotic is a deal breaker. He proposed a bill in the last session on immigration based on a constituent claiming to have seen illegals from South America running from a white van in Rapid City. The constituent knew the were from South America because their skin color and shape of the skulls is different than Mexicans. I doubt an anthropologist could make that distinction from that scenario.

    Some of my friends and relatives in Sedgewick County Kansas think he left there because he could not get elected. I told him when he came to my door a couple of weeks ago that he would never get my vote period.

  2. mike from iowa

    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.

    How many wingnuts gave Bill Clinton this much benefit of the doubt
    about not serving?

    If memory serves-the standard for wingnuts is calling LIbs unpatriotic and un-American, even wounded vets such as Max Cleland, a triple amputee and Tammy Duckworth who lost both legs piloting a helicopter in Iraq.

  3. Remind me. Didn’t Donald Trump attack John McCain for being captured while serving as a Navy fighter pilot during the Vietnam war? Isn’t that the same Donald Trump who did not serve in the military? Apparently Vietnam war related issues are still very relevant in the GOP party.

    Usually GOP party politicians like to attack people who served admirably like Sen. Max Cleland, Sen. John Kerry and Sen. John McCain. If those folks can be attacked for their actual military service it’s clearly fair game to point out Jensen’s refusal to heed Uncle Sam’s call. And that postcard is devastating. Absolutely devastating. Powers would have said so, but he pulled his punch because Jensen hired him for some campaign work.

  4. WR, I agree: there are much better reasons to vote Phil Jensen out and replace him with Haven Stuck, the good sensible Democrat the GOP nominee will face in the general.

    Ror, thanks for pointing out the campaign business connection. If it were any other candidate and any other attacker, I am sure Powers would have wrapped himself in the flag and hammered the conscientious objector as some limp-wristed liberal.

    (Now that I think of it, who in the blogosphere has served in the military? Bob Ellis? Good old Bob Ellis says Donald Trump’s past is a voting issue and that anyone who doesn’t recognize that Trump’s past makes him unfit for office is an idiot. What would Bob say about Phil’s refusal to serve?)

  5. Roger Cornelius

    Over the weekend Donald Trump was called out for defrauding a veterans organization for $6 Million Dollars.

  6. Donald Pay

    I always assumed in my late teens that “Thou shall not kill” was pretty clear, unlike, for example, “Thou shall not covet….” I knew there are ample examples where the chosen people were praised for killing all sorts of people. I mean stoning wayward women was allowed, if not encouraged at some points in the Bible. Let’s just say liberal humanists didn’t invent moral relativism. The people who were writing that stuff, and claiming they were writing it in God’s name had a lot of gall. I was always pretty clear that killing another human being was wrong, but that humans, even in the Bible, have a way of justifying killing for all sorts of reasons. The biggest justification, of course, is the BIG one in the Bible: if I kill in God’s name or for a Godly purpose, then I commit no wrong. Welcome to sacred terrorism.

    Well, Vietnam was not a war for God. It was not sacred terrorism, though I suppose the Vietnamese might feel differently. It was a lot of things, but mostly it was a big mistake that our leader didn’t want to admit publicly, although they all knew it, as the Pentagon Papers later revealed. Certainly no one in a position of power had the guts to stop the war. Just think about this: Nixon said he would end the war that was dividing the country, and won election. And then he proceeded to violate his promise and the law while denying he ordered illegal bombing raids. He dragged the war out for years. None of this was the fault of anyone who wore a uniform and fought the war. None of this is the fault of those who protested the war or refused to serve for reasons other than personal self-interest.

    When you want to apportion out guilt isn’t it right to point at the real problem: leaders who didn’t have the morality or the guts to end the war, and instead tried to divide people so they continue to make war, not peace?

  7. mike from iowa

    Nixon got basically the same deal in 73 as had been negotiated in 1970. The escalation of bombing neutral countries might have been the stupid attempt to force North Vietnamese to accept that 1970 plan.

  8. mike from iowa

    Now that I think of it, who in the blogosphere has served in the military?

    Jim Wright of Stonekettle Staion served honorably and is not the least reticent about blasting chickenhawks.He certainly has the bonafides to call a spade a spade.

  9. John Wrede

    As a Viet Nam era vet, I have no compassion or empathy for “conscientious objectors” and I still don’t. I agree, the Viet Nam conflict was a hideous and costly mistake that should never have happened but that did not weigh on my decision to put on the uniform and serve. I didn’t believe in the war and I didn’t want to be a part of it but I’d like to think I rose above my fear and my ideological objection and it made me a stronger person. My bias I guess but it reflects an attitude of cowardice that most young people back then strove mightily to overcome and most did. Jensen obviously wasn’t one of them. I would also agree that military service isn’t shoe in qualification to serve in public office but it darn sure can help if one is capable of screening the bias to a responsible degree. Service in the military is but another form of education that contributes life skills or; it can ruin a persons life if the military, friends and family fall short on support and understanding after ETS. Having said all of that, I would concur that there are a lot more legitimate reasons to send Jensen down the road kicking his lunch bucket than avoidance of military service. The man has been a national embarrassment to SD at least twice with his racist bigotry and he’s been a local embarrassment for a lot longer than that with demonstrations of ignorance and absence of critical thinking skills.
    In the last election cycle, an acquaintance of mine wrote a letter to the editor in the RC Journal in opposition to Jensen’s candidacy. In that letter, JP indicated that in his research on Jensen, he discovered some sort of felony criminal history for Jensen in Kansas. I attempted to verify that but have been unable to do so and perhaps it’s inappropriate to mention in the same vane as Jensen’s refusal to serve in uniform but considering Jensen’s overall deception and thoughtless antics both privately and publicly, it’s worth looking into. I will visit with JP when I next see him about his research and see if there is a confirming source for the accusation. There may not be but then again, I have a lot of difficulty believing that this former soldier and Viet Nam vet would fabricate something as a political smear.

  10. Curtis Price

    I doubt it is fabricated but I really don’t approve of these tactics, and the attack on anyone who chose not to serve — in 1972 remember the tragic context of that time. Jensen has provided lots of substantive issues even in the last legislative session alone to run on, but making sense can lose you votes in that terribly gerrymandered districts.

    But why not go out on a limb and say that legislation that could be a defense of killing medical professionals for performing a medically sound and constitutionally protected procedure is reason to get a legislator out of Pierre? Not to mention lobbying the public against the RC opt-out, promising to fix the issue in Pierre, and going back on their word loudly a few months later?

    I heard that courage can get you votes. Very disappointed in Sly and Adelstein for this most recent attack. They really are better than this.