Opinion: The dishonor of election-denying vets

photo by: Contributed

Froma Harrop

We can well understand Joe Kent’s grief over the death of his wife. Shannon was a Navy cryptologic technician who tragically died in a suicide bombing in Syria.

But as a candidate for a House seat in Washington state, Kent is using his loss as some strange kind of cover for spreading the lie that the 2020 election was stolen. In doing so, the CIA paramilitary officer is simultaneously betraying his country and disrespecting his late wife’s courage and sacrifice.

“She was there,” Kent complains, “because unelected bureaucrats decided to slow-roll” Donald Trump’s withdrawal orders.

Wrong and wrong. Shannon was there because she was a soldier who signed up for a dangerous mission. As president, Trump was commander in chief. He could have insisted that his orders were followed — though, thankfully, they were not. An immediate withdrawal would have been catastrophic, according to Trump’s own Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley.

Veterans used to be widely regarded as model candidates for their tendency toward bipartisanship and preference for just getting things done. Some still are. But there’s now a breed of veteran candidate who has gone beyond a healthy skepticism of military interventions and sees himself as a foot soldier in the far right’s efforts to overthrow the democracy.

Like Kent, they wallow in self-dramatization. Lost in the discussion is that people who join the military or security services do so voluntarily. There is no draft. They serve the country for a variety of reasons, one being patriotism.

A very close relative of mine worked for the CIA in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He suffered greatly after losing several close friends in the 2009 suicide bombing attack on a CIA base in Afghanistan. But he knew why they — and he — were there.

A former Navy SEAL who saw five deployments, Eli Crane is the real thing as a brave warrior. But now running for the House seat in Arizona, he’s pushing the tawdry lie that Trump won the 2020 election.

Arizona is the state that brought us Sen. John McCain, an exemplary conservative who had undergone years of torture as a prisoner in North Vietnam. To this day, I will not understand the far right’s continued worship of Trump after Captain Bone Spurs attacked McCain’s heroism, famously saying, “I like people who weren’t captured.”

Don Bolduc is a retired brigadier general vying for the Senate seat in New Hampshire held by Maggie Hassan. He signed a letter early on asserting that Trump had won the election. Then, 36 hours after winning the primary, he told Fox News that “the election was not stolen.”

In addition to being a political coward, Bolduc is nuts. Yes, he did call New Hampshire’s Republican Gov. Chris Sununu a “Chinese-communist sympathizer.”

Here are some theories on how these candidates got to their crazy place: The Trumpian right surrounds them with what they perceive as love. They may be a Rambo outside but snowflake inside who melts at the thought that their side lost an election. Some may not be bright, while others have no trouble selling their souls for pats on the head.

And they take a most unsavory pleasure in turning on generals deemed insufficiently servile to Trump. Kent has called for criminal charges against Milley and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. (As bonus freakiness, he wants Dr. Anthony Fauci charged with murder over the “scam that is COVID” and calls the vaccine a form of “experimental gene therapy.”)

OK. Any liar or head case who would discard the people’s vote in service to an authoritarian — or anything else — qualifies for a dishonorable discharge from consideration for elected office. It’s time for the voters to intervene.

— Froma Harrop is a syndicated columnist with Creators.


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