Pre-election shock and awe

Opinion by Brad Molnar

When picking their candidates to replace Ryan Zinke as Montana’s lone congressman all parties concerned (pun intended) promised shock and awe as Montana’s election date was the first in the nation to provide a statement on the Trump presidency. Splat. The Republican and Democrat parties at the national levels are conspicuous through their absence. The Libertarian party which promised that this was the moment of their rebirth, it turns out, is still satisfied with the label of “also ran.”
To make matters worse the front runners in this “sitzkrieg” are running on the issue of “But he has no money,” and “I am not a millionaire.” Both front running campaigns are wonderfully void of issues or content as campaign professionals steer them clear of rocks or anything else of substance. Someone will win and claim this as the winning concept for others to follow.
So, to liven things up, I asked all three candidates a current events question. I figured that with all three seriously lacking in street cred on foreign policy (and two out of three seriously lacking in campaign funds) that all three would jump at the opportunity to show how clever they were then attach links to their web sites to prove it. Thirty-three and 1/3 percent is a failing grade; my failing grade.
The question
“News reports state the Russians were warned, by us, before our missile attack on the Syrian airbase that apparently was the launch point for at least one gas attack on civilian targets by President Bashar al-Assad of Syria. The Russians are allies of Bashar al-Assad. Should we be warning those that support the criminal activities of President Bashar al-Assad before we attack a target populated by Syrian and Russian military personnel?
Greg Gianforte (R), through spokesperson Shane Scanlon: "The Assad regime committed an atrocity when they brutally murdered innocent men, women, and children earlier this week. We have an obligation to protect and defend our national security and to stop the use of chemical weapons. President Trump acted within his authority as commander and chief, and I stand behind his decision, to take out the air base where these chemical attacks were launched. Trump sent a strong message to Assad and other dictators around the world that the horrific use of chemical weapons will not be tolerated. I look forward to President Trump and Congress working together on a long-term strategy to address this crisis in Syria. As we work towards a solution, we must always ensure that America's interests are protected."
Mark Wicks (L):  “In this instance warning the Russians one hour before the attack was a prudent move. The last thing we want to have happen is Russian citizens to be killed in an air attack. We do not need to escalate world tensions more than they already are.
I have always felt that killing enemy soldiers that are just following orders and not attacking the actual command structure is wrong. Let's go after the man that gives the orders, not the conscript in the military. The military forces at the airfield were probably following orders and the people that ordered the gas attack were never in danger in the missile strike.
   I would like to see an investigation of what really happened in Syria. There are a lot more unanswered questions than I would like. Too many times we have rushed to judgment just to find that the facts were not as we were led to believe”.
Rob Quist (D), also working without a spokesperson: No response.
In actuality neither Gianforte nor Quist answered the question. After I received Gianforte’s answer via Scanlon’s email I emailed Gianforte on his personal email and asked if he wanted to directly answer the question via email. He did not. No interest at all. I sent Quist a reminder of the deadline. No interest at all.
A correct answer does not exist. But to answer is to invite criticism by those paid to create negative ads at all costs even the cost of truth. So candidates that think they have a chance will not take a chance. And of course we will not have a chance to measure them for the real job ahead as we forge our new government in the heat of international conflict and national polarization. And so it goes. Oh well, at least the Libertarian answered.
So the booby prize goes to Wicks. For having the courage to answer a question I offer you his “issues” web site. The others can buy a damn ad.

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