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thepoliticalgame

If John Foster has such a problem, why hasn't the campaign Facebook page been changed to better reflect what Walt really was doing during Vietnam?

MountainGoat

Exactly, and here's the thing: words matter and John Foster of all people should know that.

If I were to say, "I was on active duty during the Gulf War and my unit was one of the first to liberate Kuwait," that would be an absolutely true statement. But if people inferred from that that I helped liberate Kuwait, that would be absolutely false, for while it is true that my unit did help liberate Kuwait, I was attending a training school at the time.

Allowing people to make an inference that isn't true while making a "technically" true statement, is lying.

Larry LaRocco

Rep. Walt Minnick is the only veteran serving in the Idaho Congressional Delegation.

The Mountain Goat's inferences that Minnick "dodged" the draft by joining ROTC and serving as a U.S. Army officer does a disservice to this public servant.

Mountain Goat is on a slippery slope here in denigrating the service of a U.S. Army officer who served in Vietnam on temporary duty basis (TDY). The mobilization of millions of Americans during the Vietnam War was typical of large national undertakings in our country's history. The service experiences of those mobilized transcends a broad spectrum.

Minnick served in a unit of economists evaluating the controversial Vietnamization stragegy in Vietnam. He was dispatched under orders "in-country" to make those evaluations by the top brass within the White House.

Let me give you an example of why we should be careful about stratifying patriotism or acribing a perceived level of personal commitment during wartime.

One of my fellow U.S. Army officers in Military Intelligence was assinged to a Special Forces Group out of Ft. Bragg. He spent many months in Vietnam (and other countries) on temporary duty assignment. That was his mission. From his shared recollections to me those assignments were covert, dangerous and effective. Would Mountain Goat criticize this brave soldier because of his "temporary duty" orders?

Minnick's mission was to travel to the war zone of Vietnam whenever ordered to make his assessments for the team of economists committing millions of dollars on a program to turn over military operations to the South Vietnamese armed forces. This strategy was intended to bring an end to the war. He performed his military service in Vietnam - and out of Vietnam - honorably, professionally and willfully.

Minnick was more than a "Vietnam Era" veteran. He served in country.

Mountain Goat has every right to quarrel with Minnick's votes. It's a cheap shot, however, to denigrate his service to our country during one of the most traumatic eras in our nation's history.

As a fellow veteran, I find Minnick's descriptions of his service to be honest and straightforward.

MountainGoat

Thank you for your opinion Mr. LaRocco, but Walt himself said he was attempting to appeal the ruling of his local draft board and that it went all the way to the presidential appeals level. On the chance that he would lose that appeal he joined the ROTC. Those are his words not mine.

I do not doubt the bravery of the Pentagon economist nor that he served honorably.

Larry LaRocco

Mountain Goat continues to over-simplify the experiences of many Americans from the Vietnam War era. At one point during the draft, graduate studies provided a deferment. Marriage was also another deferment from the draft. At another point, a child or children provided a deferment. With the massive build-up in the late 1960's those draft deferments were eliminated. Certainly, if you went to the Peace Corps your commitment to military service was fulfilled. You are equating a "dodge" with a legal option and confusing an administrative appeal to a "dodge." Additionally, you are reducing a two year reserve officer commitment to a further "dodge." Suggestion: Convene a focus group with 20 men 63 - 70 years old and you will find a broad spectrum of situations in dealing with the Vietnam War draft. Minnick's words don't equate to the inaccurate conclusions you have drawn.

MountainGoat

Mr. LaRocco, you are using the word "dodge" -- I said "avoid being drafted" and that is exactly what he was trying to do. Your word "dodge" carries the negative connotation of illegality that I did not imply.

May I suggest that you read the entire biography upon which this post is based; you would see that most of those, yes legal, means of deferment were discussed briefly there.

It can be found here:
http://mountaingoatreport.typepad.com/the_mountaingoat_report/2010/03/the-walt-minnick-you-dont-know.html

thepoliticalgame

Congressman LaRocco,

I would appreciate it if you wouldn't direct your dismay at only MG, but with myself as well. We are a team on this project and I believe, as does she, that Walt has mischaracterized his military service as being that of a combat veteran who actually did a "tour of duty" in the jungles of Vietnam. His words speak to this far better than either of us could and if you haven't read our biographical piece on Minnick, I highly recommend you do as well.

The truth of the matter is while many young men like yourself were on the ground in Vietnam, Mr. Minnick was stationed at the Pentagon and only a few times actually visited Southeast Asia. He was there to meet with economists and later with officials dealing with drug control policy. Just because he visited the country does not give him the right to claim service in the sense of actual sacrifice the way so many other veterans can, and rightfully do. He did everything in his power to ensure he would not be drafted into combat. Again, his words not our own.

You say he served "in country" and by doing so only continue to falsely portray his service. I thought a veteran such as yourself would be disgusted with the way Minnick and his campaign have continued to perpetuate this myth. While tens of thousands of young men were dying in Vietnam, Walt served in the Pentagon and the White House in positions that would seem posh in comparison to the positions of those who actually served a "tour of duty" in Vietnam.

I understand that you must feel some sort of obligation to stick-up for the only Democrat to hold the 1st CD seat since you held it, but as someone who has looked at nearly every source on Minnick's military career, I would appreciate it if you would review the facts and not just the story as Walt has told it to you.

Tara

thepoliticalgame

And, to quote Adam Graham (hardly on the side of those of us who are being called "the angry left"):

"As someone whose father did three tours in Vietnam to say, 'I served my country in Vietnam,' because you flew in there for a couple of days is ridiculous and an insult to those who risked their lives there. It’d be like George W. Bush saying he served his country in Iraq because he visited."

It is an insult to those who fought on the ground in Vietnam and to the families of those who lost their lives.

Garth

Quit the hackery. You and Tara are the type of Democrats who lose us every potential foothold in this state that we actually get. Let me quote one of my favorite legislators to explain it to you.

"If Democrats continue to bash Walt Minnick I suspect our moderate friends will be highly disinclined to feel welcome in our party. If progressive people want more power over policy, over health issues, the environment, education and human rights, I know it is unpopular to say, but we will have to be more accepting of a wider range of political perspectives. We will have to learn to hold on to the gains and the points of common ground without dividing ourselves over the things about which we don't agree."

- State Sen. Nicole LeFavour

http://notesfromthefloor.typepad.com/notes_from_the_floor/2010/03/out-with-a-hiss.html

MountainGoat

Quite the opposite Garth... Minnick isn't blazing any trails for other Democrats or the IDP; he's simply doing what's best for Walt Minnick.

To paraphrase some of what I said in a comment on Sen. LeFavour's blog, I welcome differing opinions in the party; I realize that it is a strength and to our benefit to do so. The only "qualification" as far as I'm concerned is that they be proud to be Democrats. Walt Minnick's Democrat bashing does not meet that criteria. Do you think there's a correlation between that and the decline in self-identified Democrats since 2008?

thepoliticalgame

Garth, we're the type of Democrats that work hard to get Democrats elected.

Garth

No, you're the type of Democrat who works to get THEORETICAL Democrats elected. No actual Democrat who can get elected to major office from Idaho is pure enough for you. There a pro-choice, pro gay-rights guy who voted to close Guantanamo representing Idaho in Congress. I know those are yesterday's issues to you, but they still matter to me.

thepoliticalgame

I've worked plenty hard to get REAL Democrats elected. Minnick simply isn't one.

MountainGoat

I worked hard to get Minnick elected. I don't mind that he votes differently than I would like sometimes; I do mind the way in which he does it.

J B

Mountain Goat & Tara keep on it...!

I agree Minnick is absolutely not democrat and deserves every criticism he receives.

Minnick only votes with Democrats 69% of the time. Minnick’s attack on Idaho democrats during his pandering speech to a Boise tea bagger rally was a disgrace.

Any democratic who donates to his campaign or votes for Minnick is a hypocrite.

Minnick manipulation of real world facts to misrepresent his Vietnam military record only reaffirms his willful dishonestly. Hey LaRocca lets ask some true Vietnam combat vets how they feel about an elitist politician who sought multiple deferments, now with the use of creative writing implies he served in a combat role for political gain.

Mountain Goat , don't let a millionaire lobbyist intimidate you; LaRocco is a horrible old school elitist that offered nothing to everyday Idahoans!

IDP needs to be shaken to its core and purge the poor leadership.

State Senator LeFavour argument that Minnick bashing will cause a loss in some imaginary democratic foothold, is a pant load. IDP's failure to offers candidates to challenge conservative incumbents is worse than bashing Minnick, who by the way he bashes Idaho democratic values while pandering to conservatives.

If Republicans like Minnick want to join great!, but our values and principles must be firmly held and not used to get elected then vote against everything our principles and value stand for.

State Senator LeFavour has chosen to allow the party to be hijacked and claims its good for IDP, HMMMMMM….It is concerning that LeFavour is showing signs of being weak and incapable of standing up for the modern democratic constituents, that’s her choice to live with.

IDP is a very disappointing old school organization full of Democratic elitists who think they are entitled to run the party. Dem work crews try real hard but are following leaders who can not speak intelligently about the facts in public or the media and they fail all the time by not challenging republicans in the media.

Mountain Goat & Tara do not waver from your outstanding honest efforts. The truth & facts will set the everyday Idaho democrats free and yes, it will build a better democratic party we can support and be proud of, not what we have today.

Do not re-elect Minnick, let the wing-nut right have it, and let’s shake up IDP with new leadership.

Garth

J B, let me get this straight. You support Democrats, except for Walt Minnick, Larry LaRocco, Jim Hansen and the folks at the IDP, and Nicole LeFavour. Sounds like you want a really small tent.

MountainGoat

Um, Garth? That's only a handful of people.

As it is right now, there's the Minnick exclusive "I'm not a Democrat" tent with the IDP sticking its nose under, thinking no one will notice that they're Democrats either.

Then you've got the fly-by Democrats who drop in for a visit now and again and as long as they don't squeal too loudly when stepped on, they're allowed to sleep on the floor for a night or two.

Then you've got the grassroots, workhorse Democrats, who are going tentless right now, 'cause once they got the tent erected, the Minnick camp commandeered it. Now they're trying to tug just a corner of the Minnick tent their way but instead keep getting kicked in the teeth.

We're tired of getting kicked in the teeth. We do tend to snarl a bit.

Gary Eller

You go girls! It is refreshing to see that the younger generation has taken note of the schism that developed in my generation between those who had the ability to avoid the draft and those who didn't. By reading your post it appears to me that Minnick was clearly one of those with the ability, money, and contacts to pull some strings. And he pulled them. Still, in fairness to Walt, he was absolutely standing in the longest line of those who now enjoy waving the flag and shouting patriotic slogans. I don't begrudge the man for avoiding combat in Vietnam, had I the same ability, I probably would have done the same. But I do begrudge men like Minnick who pulled strings to avoid combat service and then refuse to admit to it. Such men are hypocrites and need to be called out for their past indescretions.

Larry LaRocco

MG/Tara: It's a quaint notion that I didn't agree with you because I didn't read your full piece. Quite the opposite. I did read it in its entirety before I posted my comments in disagreement. I normally don't post on blogs ( read JB's intemperate comments ) but I felt compelled to respond. Also, I didn't come to Minnick's defense because we both have been priveleged to serve in the US House from the First Congressional District. Minnick's military service was unfairly characterized and it deserved a defense. I stand by my suggestion: convene a group of males ages 63 - 70 and find out how they approached military service during the Vietnam War. This peek into the national firestorm called the Vietnam War will be helpful to your research. Minnick was an officer who followed orders wherever they took him.

MountainGoat

Mr. LaRocco, let's be honest. What's quaint is to think you just happened to drop by here one afternoon. You know as well as I, what actually brought you here.

As for whether or not Minnick's service has been unfairly characterized, there are differing opinions about that, as Gary Eller pointed out. No one questions that there weren't others doing exactly the same thing Minnick was doing or that he wasn't following orders, and it's offensive to suggest that we aren't aware that there is a vast array of experiences from all those who served. Those with money usually weren't the ones doing the dying, though, and as Gary also pointed out, refusing to admit why you were successful in avoiding combat while attempting to suggest you weren't is hypocritical.

Gary Eller

Mr. LaRocco,

The point of MG/Tara’s post is not that Walt did not serve his watch, but that he (or someone else) embellished his watch. Your comparison of Walt’s TDY’s in country with TDY’s of Spec Ops personnel in and around Vietnam is a valid comparison as those type of assignments were regularly carried out under TDY orders. However, any Sec Ops personnel claiming to have “been there and done that” would have had such annotated in their personnel files. It was a way to protect the soldier and his family, as well as the government, should he be killed, captured, or later, file a claim with the VA for injuries occurring while on assignment in country. I am sure such was the case with Walt. Having said that was Walt awarded the Vietnam Service Medal for his time in country? Was Walt on hazardous duty orders and did he receive hazardous duty pay while in country? I seem to remember that one day in country meant one month of hazardous duty pay and it was a great way for TDY personnel to get extra cigarette money. Enterprising soldiers, and especially officers, could spend a total of twelve days in Vietnam, one day for each pay period, and receive a full year of hazardous duty pay. It was a great gig for those who could pull it off. Was Walt one of them? I don’t expect you to know the answer, but you might also ask Walt what the strength of his ROTC and USAR unit was at the time he joined. Most ROTC, National Guard, and USAR units were over strength during the war, some as high as 250% over strength, and virtually impossible to join unless someone had a sugar daddy to open a slot for him. They were impossible to join because they were a way to meet the selective service requirement while avoiding orders to Vietnam. Did Walt have a sugar daddy at Harvard and his USAR unit and, if so, who?

I am not quite the age of the men you are suggesting that the ladies canvas for opinions, but I did serve a tour in Vietnam as a rifleman with the 1st Marine Division in 1969. And I heartily agree with your suggestion that the ladies talk with draft eligible men to gather a diversity of opinions. I would like to share one of mine now. Prior to joining the Marine Corps I can recall a local USAR unit here in Magic Valley conducting their monthly weekend drill and a person could not park within a quarter-mile of the unit headquarters during these drills. Missing drills meant being placed on active duty and being placed on active duty greatly increased ones chances of going to Vietnam. Without a doubt I believe that draft eligible men joined Guard and Reserve units to avoid being sent to Vietnam. Whether Walt did the same is something only Walt can answer. It might seem petty to those who weren’t around in those days, and it probably is petty, but I take a certain delight in knowing that Guard and Reserve units are being activated for overseas duty in our GWOT. I am glad to finally see them pulling their weight.

Gary Eller
Lieutenant Colonel, Infantry
US Army (Ret)

Garth

No one embellished anything, as far as I can see. He served both in Vietnam and stateside; you haven't shown me that he ever claimed combat experience. In fact, in the article in New West announcing his run (probably written straight from a Minnick press release), I see the opposite: 'Minnick served in the U.S. Army as an economist at the Pentagon during the Vietnam years.'

http://www.newwest.net/topic/article/boise_businessman_walt_minnick_will_run_for_idahos_first/C37/L37/

Gary, I fail to understand why you would take 'delight' in the Reserves and the Guard being sent off to fight and die in an unnecessary war, with deployment after deployment.

MountainGoat

Garth, you're obviously a fairly bright person but you've missed the entire point. Minnick's people have even changed the Facebook page to eliminate the phrase "serving his country in Vietnam" because of the widely accepted implication that that means in combat.

And it was precisely the conflicting bio's that prompted us to look further.

Gary Eller

Garth,Vietnam was also an unnecessary war yet some people were able to avoid it by joining a Guard or Reserve unit instead of fleeing to Canada or going to jail. That is no longer the case. And, as I mentioned, I am a petty person. I would personally like to see the draft reinstituted, with no deferments, these wars would end in a heartbeat.

Garth

He served in Vietnam. Even his stateside work was Vietnam-focused. He never said he served in combat.

I just don't see the conflict you do. And if you look at the conversation on Huckleberries Online, few people off your website do either.

http://www.spokesman.com/blogs/hbo/2010/mar/29/mgr-minnick-lies-re-vietnam-service/

Finally, according to your post, the Minnick people only removed the previous language to 'avoid confusion'. The original language wasn't didn't imply combat service to me, but as it apparently confused you and Tara, they made the language more specific.

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Quotes For 2010

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Quotes For 2009

  • "[Some politicians] wouldn't recognize the Constitution if it fell in their laps and called them Daddy." — Rep. Lenore Hardy Barrett (R-Challis) at a tea party tax protest.
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Quotes For 2008

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