Posted by: theoptimisticconservative | October 18, 2010

Now That’s What I’m Talking About: VFW About-Face

The Veterans of Foreign Wars PAC, which endorsed an unbelievable slate of left-wing candidates this month (including Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and Barbara Boxer), has been shut down by the VFW leadership, according to the Wall Street Journal.

This doesn’t appear to be anything meaningless or mealy-mouthed either.  On Friday, the VFW Commander-in-Chief removed all 11 members of the VFW-PAC board after they refused to rescind their endorsements.  He also issued a memo stating that he will move to dissolve the PAC at the annual VFW convention in August.

The move should not be all that surprising, given that VFW is a veteran-supported group dependent on donations from and participation by thousands of vets, spouses, and family members.  The backlash from veterans was tremendous in the wake of the VFW-PAC endorsement announcement.  The PAC’s board members, for their part, had their side represented to the media as follows by (former) Board chairman Tyrone Benson:

“I can understand the feelings of the people who didn’t like their congressmen,” said Mr. Benson, who lives in Alamogordo, N.M. “We just endorsed them based on the bills that they supported for veterans.”

In an Oct. 13 statement defending its endorsements, the PAC said it used a rigid methodology under which it would only endorse incumbents on Capitol Hill who sided with the VFW’s position on seven of nine bills in the Senate and 10 of 13 in the House. Those included measures such as authorization for defense spending and to improve job opportunities for veterans.

This narrow view of the issues is a marvelously instructive example of what I call “D.C. Capture” – the dynamic by which ordinary people get involved in the processes of government and proceed to lose all judgment and perspective.  Reid, Pelosi, and Boxer achieved their “Seven of Nine” status (so many clever allusions, so little time) by voting for veterans’ benefits, of course, and I don’t fault them for that. But those votes don’t, by themselves, amount to supporting a strong military and an assertive defense posture for the United States.  Neither is it evidence of supporting a strong national defense to vote for defense authorization bills that cut key programs, and thereby increase the relative danger to American forces and to the basic security of the nation.

Fortunately, the VFW leadership itself listened to the outraged veterans (like me) and took prompt action.  We can hope VFW reflects on this whole episode and takes steps to avoid becoming “AARP for vets.”



  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by JT, J.E. Dyer. J.E. Dyer said: Now That’s What I’m Talking About: VFW About-Face: Latest from TOC: VFW kills hard-left-endorsing PAC […]

  2. What’s so gratifying is that the Vets’ outrage shows that they, unlike the PAC leadership, are able to rise above a dangerous “what’s in it for me” mentality that never looks beyond the next pension or paycheck. I wholly support the enlightened self-interest of true capitalism, but that demands a longer, wider attention span than the MTV generation seems able to sustain.

    The PAC leadership, by narrowing its focus to a few limited economic issues, managed to miss entirely its obligation to the military as a whole — comprised as it is of people who hope to serve in a military that remains strong enough to ensure that they also survive to become veterans.

    • Thanks for the good points, Bookworm. I don’t know why your comment went to the spam queue, but I’m hopeful that won’t happen again. Great to have you here, and don’t be shy about joining the fray.

  3. It seems odd to me that the organization is called Veterans of *Foreign* Wars. Since its inception, ALL wars we’ve fought have been foreign. I find the distinction mildly peculiar. What happens when President Obama declares himself dictator of America and we have Civil War 2.0?? Will there be another organization called the VDW to represent the soldiers and marines from that war?? Haha!

  4. Unbelievable?

    You can try to gin up enthusiasm for a thing like O’Donnell and call endorsement of Reid or Pelosi or Boxer…. “unbelievable.”

    That’s pretty odd. You can certainly disdain the three, but they’ve proven themselves repeatedly electable and nearly as respectable as politicians usually are.

    • The fact that an elongated cylinder on the sidewalk has turned white and no longer clings to your shoe when you step on it doesn’t change its essential nature.

      • Try reading what the elongated O’Donnell has to say, Sully.

        “Where in the Constitution is the separation of church and state?” O’Donnell asked Coons as the audience laughed.

        He said it was in the 1st Amendment.

        “Let me clarify,” O’Donnell continued. “You’re telling me that separation of church and state is in 1st Amendment?”

        “Government shall make no establishment of religion,” came the reply.

        “That’s in the 1st Amendment,” she asked.

        Later when questioned about other constitutional points, O’Donnell said: “I’m sorry I didn’t bring my Constitution with me. Fortunately senators don’t have to memorize the Constitution.”

        That’s the level of ignorant and stupid that the opticon wants to support.
        Ya gotta wonder why.,0,1959365.story

        • If you actually take the time to read the Constitution and the First Amendment, you will see that Christine O’Donnell is quite correct. THERE IS NOTHING IN THE CONSTITUTION OR THE FIRST AMENDMENT ABOUT THE SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE! The first amendment guarantees the free exercise of religion and forbids the Congress from establishing a “State”religion. Don’t forget that most of the original colonists came here because of religious persecution, and the Founders wanted to make sure that did not happen here. The “separation of church and State language actually was derived from a court decision. (We’ve actually had activist judges for some time!). The really sad thing is that the audience of law students didn’t know this!

          • and how is that distinct from separation of church and state, Betty?

          • BTW, the phrase…….

            I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between church and State.
            -Thomas Jefferson, letter to Danbury Baptist Association, CT., Jan. 1, 1802

            • Among the rights that were heaven sent,
              The founders forbade the establishment,
              Of a church that all must sure frequent,
              Or suffer government punishment.

              Sure Jefferson later posted a notation,
              Stating it meant there was a separation,
              But respect for that letter is mighty odd,
              From quarters that scoff at original intent,
              And laugh at the idea that there is a God.

              • Yes, we can all have our own opinions about what Jefferson meant, but that has nothing to do with the relation between Church and State.

              • Madison had the same idea about the First affirming separation, Sully.

                I’m not sure that Madison laughed at the idea of god

  5. Interesting! I wasn’t aware of this, which says a bit about how effectively the VFW PAC communicated its endorsements

  6. There seems to be a little establishmentarianism going on here.

    At least the NRA did not make an endorsement in the Reid/Angle race. They have in the past endorsed Reid, who placed anti-Second Amendment judges on the Supreme Court, and an anti-Second Amendment nomination to Attorney General. And Reid still has the chutzpah (that’s a Mormon word, right?) to claim in his election commercials to be a big gun rights advocate. Oh, yeah, he did get LV a nice shootin’ range.

  7. quite right, adam, the separation of church and state is mandated in the words of the First Amendment as interpreted by our courts.

    • And the courts can interpret them differently.

  8. Well the Courts have interpreted the 1st Amendment
    wrongly starting around 1947, with former Klansman
    Hugo Black, they used the ill advised precedents of
    the Pierce case in the 20s, and applied it broadly

  9. I doubt that Madison or Jefferson would have objected to a prayer at a football game offered by the team captain; or at graduation, offered by the valedictorian. This is the kind of thing people object to–interfering in such situations because someone is presumably imposed upon by having to listen to such a prayer, or having their tax money indirectly supporting it. If the courts stayed out of these local situations, and the ACLU wasn’t around to ambulance chase them, we probably wouldn’t be having discussions like this anymore. Even something like prayer in school, which would be contentious by now at any rate, could be settled on a case by case basis, with creative solutions for addressing the sensitivities and rights of religious minorities. Dragging in the 1st Amendment at every moment makes this impossible, and refers everything back to the Feds.

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