FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Trump is Wrong About Tester and Montana’s Veterans

Photograph Senate Democrats | CC BY 2.0

Late last week President Trump blasted Montana’s senior U.S. Sen. Jon Tester for releasing damaging information on Ronnie Jackson, Trump’s personal physician and his nominee to head the massive Veterans Administration. Jon Tester might lose his bid for re-election, just like any other politician, but it will not be because Montana’s veterans turn on the man who has done as much or more for vets than any person Montanans ever sent to Congress.

As the ranking Democrat on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, Tester has been an absolute bulldog on dealing with the problems at the Veterans Administration. Considering the VA has about 378,000 employees and a $180 billion budget, Tester’s concern with vetting Trump’s nominee is exactly what a senator should do.

For one thing, Congress is a separate branch of government, which Trump doesn’t seem to understand. The function of Congress, besides making law and appropriating funds to run the government, is to provide the checks and balances on the executive and judicial branches of government. It’s very unfortunate that we have a president who has no idea about why our Constitution ensures “separate but equal” branches of government, but Congress is not and never was expected to be a rubber stamp for whatever a president wants to do.

Given the content of the material Tester released about Jackson, it’s no wonder he was concerned. Although they preferred to remain anonymous because they feared the vindictive retribution so common in the Trump administration for those who don’t go along with whatever dictates spill from the dysfunctional Oval Office, the revelations about Jackson from service members were damning.

Besides having exactly zero experience managing a massive federal agency, Jackson was apparently known as “Candyman” due to the prescription drugs he “loosely” handed out to co-workers without proper paperwork. And then there were the accusations, as The Hill reported, that Jackson “wrote prescriptions that other doctors would not authorize, had an explosive temper, bullied colleagues, exhibited drunkenness while on duty and once wrecked a government vehicle while intoxicated.”

Although Trump threatened Tester that he “has a big price to pay,” remember that Trump knows as much about Montana and Montanans as he knows about the Constitution, which is virtually nothing.

One might also wonder why Jackson voluntarily withdrew his nomination. The answer to that is equally simple: Republicans, as well as Tester, did not believe he was the right person to head the VA for many good reasons. Or as they say in the political arena, “he didn’t have the votes.”

Unlike Trump, Tester has actually accomplished a great deal for veterans, including allowing vets to see local doctors instead of having to travel long distances across our huge state to access VA facilities. Speaking of which, you can bet Montana’s vets appreciate Tester’s successful effort to obtain $8 million to build the long-sought Butte veterans’ facility.

Even Republican Chuck Hagel, former Secretary of Defense under Presidents Reagan and Obama, found Trump’s threats “outrageous,” saying, “this phony charge that Tester has gotten from the president and others that this is politics is just nonsense.” While Republican Russ Fagg, who is running to unseat Tester, jumped on that nonsensical bandwagon claiming Tester would “say anything to get re-elected,” Montana’s 92,377 veterans are likely to agree with Hagel that “Jon Tester handled this the right way.”

As his scandal-ridden presidency continues to unravel, the one who may actually have the biggest “price to pay” come November will be Trump when he loses the compliant Republican majorities in the Senate and/or House.

More articles by:

George Ochenski is a columnist for the Missoulian, where this essay originally appeared.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

April 18, 2019
Gerald Sussman
Russiagate is Dead! Long Live Russiagate!
Lance Olsen
Perverse Housing Policy Perverts Forest Policy
Richard Ward
All Will be Punished
Jonathan Cook
Annexation of West Bank May Provide Key to Unlocking Netanyahu’s Legal Troubles
Judith Deutsch
People Music: Malignant Phallic Narcissism v. Being Ordinary
Jan Oberg
The Iran Floods and US Sanctions: 10 Million at Risk, But Who Cares?
Manuel E. Yepe
Assange: Between Gratitude and Betrayal
Ralph Nader
Children’s Moral Power Can Challenge Corporate Power on Climate Crisis
ADRIAN KUZMINSKI
Your Check is in the Mail
Binoy Kampmark
The European Union and Refugees in the Mediterranean
Arnold R. Isaacs
Looking Back at 1919: Immigration, Race, and Women’s Rights, Then and Now
Andrew Moss
Immigration and the Shock Doctrine
Michael Howard
Assange and the Cowardice of Power
Jesse Jackson
Making Wall Street Pay for the Financial Crisis
Mel Gurtov
At Risk—the Idea of America
April 17, 2019
James Bovard
Washington’s Biggest Fairy Tale: “Truth Will Out”
Yoav Litvin
The Ilhan Omar Gambit: Anti-Semitism as a Reactionary Political Tool
Evaggelos Vallianatos
Hawai’i in Trouble
Vijay Prashad
To Ola Bini, a Political Prisoner Caught Up in the Assange Debacle
Hans Muilerman and Jonathan Latham
EU Threatens to Legalize Human Harm From Pesticides
Binoy Kampmark
Delegitimising Journalism: The Effort to Relabel Julian Assange
Jack Rasmus
Trump Whacks the Middle Class
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
The Burning Cathedral and the Dead Turtle
Kenneth Surin
Insurgencies in Malaysia and Vietnam: Boyhood Reflections
Rev. William Alberts
Opening Tombs and Resurrecting Lives
Tom Engelhardt
How the U.S. Military Feeds at the Terror Trough
Norman Solomon
The Toxic Lure of “Guns and Butter”
George Wuerthner
How to Stop Grazing on Public Lands: Buy Out the Permits
George Ochenski
Vote-Trading for Big Coal
John Stanton
The Price of Participating in Society is the Sacrifice of Privacy and Self
April 16, 2019
Richard Rubenstein
Julian and Martin: Reflections on the Arrest of Assange
Geoff Dutton
Talking Trash: Unfortunate Truths About Recycling
Kenn Orphan
A Land Uncharted: the Persecution of Julian Assange
Patrick Cockburn
Netanyahu’s Victory in Israel Tells Us About the Balance of Power in the Middle East
Robert Fisk
No More Excuses: Israeli Voters Have Chosen a Country that Will Mirror the Brutal Regimes of its Arab Neighbours
Jonah Raskin
The French (Bread) Connection in a Bourgeois California Town
Denis Rogatyuk
The Ordeal of Julian Assange
David Swanson
Exporting Dictators
Ted Rall
Self-Censorship is Credibility Suicide
Robert Koehler
War Crimes and National Security
Lee Ballinger
None Dare Call It Fascism
April 15, 2019
Bruce Neuburger
The Border, Trumpian Madness and the Clash of Demographics
Patrick Cockburn
Calling Assange a Narcissist Misses the Point
Conn Hallinan
Diego Garcia: The “Unsinkable Carrier” Springs a Leak
Dan Corjescu
State of Apocalyptic Nature: A Contract with Gaia
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail