To Make Room for Schweitzer—God Help Us
By Justin Case
John Walsh’s high stakes campaign to retain Max Baucus’ Senate seat, to which he was appointed in February (so he could run in November as an incumbent) has collapsed. It is over. Walsh will lose. Steve Daines will win (unless Brain Schweitzer enters the race, then all bets are off), and the Democratic Party, because of Walsh, will be that much closer to losing control of the United States Senate—hence the high stakes.
We have aggressive journalism to thank on the part of The New York Times for giving us a heads up about Walsh. His ethics had already been in question, related to his alleged use of his position as Adjutant General of the Montana National Guard for political purposes. Then the Times recently reported that, for his Master’s thesis at the Army War College, Walsh, who as a candidate touts his 33-years of honorable service in the Guard and efforts to help veterans, expropriated the writings of other authors, acts of blatant plagiarism. When caught, Walsh first denied any plagiarism in an interview outside his DC office, then blamed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and later denied blaming Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, then wanted it both ways: “I don’t want to blame my mistake on PTSD,” Walsh told the Associated Press, “but I do want to say it may have been a factor.”
In an interview conducted by Chris Griffin on Bozeman’s KMMS/KPRK, Walsh shied away from his PTSD excuse, and said he had simply made a mistake because he was “not in the best academic state of mind” after his service in Iraq (2 years earlier) where he commanded an Infantry Battalion (the stress of which we can only imagine).
Walsh’s lifted writings, though, cannot easily be attributed to an oversight or simple mistake. They reveal instances (plural) of him having stolen the work of others while having made deliberate minor changes, with a plagiarized word count amounting to one fourth of his entire thesis. And if he had merely failed to place the stolen material in quotes, why would he change some of the words, when quotes are recorded verbatim, and never at a length of 800 words for a thesis?
On July 23, the Times’ Jonathan Martin wrote: “In the interview outside his Capitol Hill office… after he was presented with multiple examples of identical passages from his paper and the Carnegie [Endowment] and Harvard essays, Mr. Walsh said he did not believe he had done anything wrong.”
What is hard to fathom is that Walsh plagiarized while attending the prestigious Army War College, after three decades of military service, and in 2007 when he was in his late forties (not his early twenties), when you’d think he would know better—the same Army War College whose graduates include Norman Schwarzkopf, Dwight Eisenhower, and “Black Jack” Pershing. More over, the institution prides itself on strict, honorable comportment, forbid-ding plagiarism on penalty of dismissal, and it has now turned over its review of Walsh’s case to the Pentagon—not exactly a Senate candidate’s shining hour, or anybody’s.
Walsh’s judgement having been so bad, one imagines he was indeed mentally unfit, except that his actions appear conscious and deliberate, and then he so readily touted PTSD as an excuse.
Walsh now says though that his mistake was a “simple oversight,” as he told Chris Griffin on KMMS, walking back his PTSD excuse, while at the same time bringing up the fact that he “lost one of his battalion to suicide,” a total of 4 men in combat, and that those events played on his mental state at the time. Keeping in mind (with due respect for Walsh’s service) that an infantry battalion consists of several hundred men, one wonders if Walsh may have exploited the sacrifice of the fallen as part of his effort at political damage control. This is what politicians do these days. Another documented plagiarist, Joe Biden (as is Rand Paul), shamelessly evoked pity by exploiting the death of his wife for political effect during his speech at the 2012 Democratic National Convention. And do not think that a meeting of political operatives did not take place in the Walsh campaign, with Walsh present (as party elites wrung their hands over his imperiled Senate seat) to devise a narrative meant to obscure∞ the facts.
Outside his DC office though, Walsh was ambushed by the Times, which uncharacteristically put the screws to a Democrat (a U.S. Senator yet, and leading up to a high stakes election). Walsh did not know what to say—the truth was not an option—and so his story “evolved”.
Major Montana media have excoriated Walsh. Both the Helena Independent Record and the Great Falls Tribune wrote scathing editorials about his plagiarism. PTSD or not, his excuses and politicking while purporting to help veterans came off as shameless.
Note to Sen. Walsh: Step aside. Joe Walsh has a better chance of getting elected. Dishonorable conduct is not an effective campaign theme.
Note to Democratic Party: Scramble to find a high profile candidate to run against Steve Daines, who will otherwise certainly win.
Prediction: Party elites will ask Walsh to drop out and Brian Schweitzer to take his place, telling Schweitzer he has no chance to be Vice President, let alone President (God help us), but Schweitzer’s clownish megalomania stands in the way.