Michael "Go F--k Yourself" Baumgartner's Position on Afghanistan Probably Won't Get As Much Play as Todd Akin's on Abortion

Michael Baumgartner is a state senator running against the Democratic incumbent Sen. Maria Cantwell in Washington. Baumgartner  is making some news for shooting a “vulgar” e-mail off to a reporter after a story hooked to rape comments made by Missouri candidate Todd Akins. With an attached photo, the full text read: "Josh, this is Pat Feeks, a Navy SEAL killed last week in Afghanistan. Take a good look and then go fuck yourself."

In the article, Josh Feit, the recipient of the e-mail, reported:

Concluding that he wanted a truce in the culture wars and his campaign was about jobs and ending the war in Afghanistan, he said: “The culture wars are not why I’m in the state senate or running against my opponent. I’m pragmatic. I objected to the expansion of abortion services, but I voted for two budgets that funded [family planning] services.”

Baumgartner actually has a background in America’s 21st century land wars and continues to advise the military periodically. From a June press release:

Baumgartner, who holds a Masters degree in International Development from Harvard, served as an economics officer at the US Embassy in Iraq from 2007 to 2008 and worked as an embedded advisor to an Afghan counter-narcotics team in 2009.

Since then he has frequently been asked to advise members of the US military on issues related to counter-insurgency, lecturing on more than 30 occasions at military bases around the country.

“I was first asked by the US military to lecture on economic development when I was with the State Department in Iraq, and regularly spoke at the Counterinsurgency Leaders Course at Camp Taji. Since then the requests have kept coming. It will be a great day when it’s no longer needed.”

Baumgartner, who has called for an end to the Afghan War as part of his political campaign, does not advocate that policy position in his lectures, instead focusing on economics and civilian engagement in the effort to erode Afghan civilian support for the Taliban insurgents.
“Many of these servicemen and women are on their third or fourth deployments," Baumgartner said. "While I believe that we need to bring the war to a responsible close, that’s a political decision outside their control. My goal during the lectures is to provide the best support I can to the soldiers preparing to head into an enormous challenge."

On his campaign site, Baumgartner says he supports “ending the wars” and a “smarter foreign policy.” This Bellingham Herald article quotes the candidate pointing out the Senate is supposed to advise on foreign policy and that too few Senators are capable of that. From the Herald here’s Baumgartner on Iran:

Asked if he favors military intervention to shut down Iran’s nuclear program, Baumgartner was skeptical.

“The reality with Iran is that we have a lot of bad options,” he said. “If something’s going to be done, it has to have more chance of success than failure.”

Although — like Barack Obama — he believes that intervention should not be ruled out, he also observed that those who are calling for a U.S. military strike may not have thought it through.

“Presidential candidates have a natural impetus to look tough on these things,” Baumgartner said.

Democrats, meanwhile, went to work painting him as an extremist immediately after his announcement. From the Spokesman Review:

Democrats were quick to brand Baumgartner as a far-right extremist for signing the 2010 Spokane County Republican platform which calls for such things as withdrawing from the United Nations, eliminating the U.S. Department of Education, returning to the gold standard and repealing the Endangered Species Act.

The Republican is polling well behind Senator Cantwell. The article that spurred his news-making response was part of a “one question” series. Being more interested in a self-consistent attribute of a ”pro-life” stance than in asking a question like “what would you do about Afghanistan policy?” to a candidate whose strand of foreign policy politics might stray from bipartisan establishment orthodoxy, and who’s expressed a desire to call attention to an issue as important as the war in Afghanistan, one even the Defense Secretary is trying to push into the news cycle, suggests political interest in the culture wars remains much higher than on the issues that actually determine the course of the country.

Ron Paul’s continued fight for delegates and Gary Johnson’s campaign to get into the presidential debates notwithstanding, with less than a hundred days left in the election the window for the muddled decade-long war in Afghanistan to enter the forefront on the campaign trail continues to close.

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  • Xenocles||

    Unless every reporter in a Democratic district asked his congressman for comment on Hank "Guam might capsize" Johnson, I'd say a "Go fuck yourself" is warranted. Maybe I will vote for someone for Senate this year.

  • The Derider||

    Suggesting Guam could capsize is incredibly stupid but has zero policy implications.

    Suggesting abortion should not be allowed in the case of rape, on the other hand, has immediate policy implications for women.

  • Xenocles||

    It has infinite policy implications, because stupidity has no limit.

  • ||

    KULTUR WAR is what fuels the TEAMs, Ed. It's what they use to pretend they're different. Look, we like arugula, and you hate it. See how we're not exactly the fucking same in effective policy?

  • ||

    The Republican is polling well behind Senator Cantwell.

    Yup Washington State sucks and is filled with Dems and Repubs who are more interested in culture wars then anything else.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    I understand the sentiment and desire to vent like Baumgartner did about banalities, and would probably have a similar reaction -- which is why I will never go into politics.

    Also, why Baumgartner won't win.

    Methinks that people like Baumgartner would be better situated as the brains and people behind the nice, pretty face that shakes babies and says things in the right way.

  • Chupacabra||

    "shakes babies"

    WAR ON CHILDRUNZ!!!!"

  • Fluffy||

    Strange that a guy who had been assigned the task of trying to economically develop Afghanistan and then the task of trying to eradicate the drug trade in Afghanistan looks at our efforts in Afghanistan and says, "Let's get the fuck out of here, guys."

    Very strange.

  • Paul.||

    In a saner world, it would make perfect sense.

  • Enough About Palin||

    The world is saner than you think.

  • Paul.||

    Now you're talkin' crazy.

  • ||

    That's insane.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    While I believe that we need to bring the war to a responsible close, that’s a political decision outside their control.

    He would never make it as a public school teacher if he's unwilling to take an indoctrination advantage of a captive audience.

    His fuck you to a journalist, I am guessing, was a calculated move, and perhaps a smart one. It got them to, at least tangentially, talk about his position on the Afghan war.

  • ||

    I live in Washington and knew nothing about him or his stance on the Afghanistan war until this happened.

    If this improves his poll numbers it would be the awesomest thing ever.

    It will give him 15 min either way.

  • Paul.||

    Ditto that.

    His name rang a vague bell to me, but that was about it.

  • Xenocles||

    I vote in Washington and I'm at least going to look at him now. That's probably better than he was before this article.

  • The Derider||

    Thousands of women are now also realizing he wants to force them to bear their rapists' children.

  • ||

    The naked fear of an anti-war Republican is too much huh joe?

  • Beowulf||

    "Being more interested in a self-consistent attribute of a ”pro-life” stance than in asking a question like “what would you do about Afghanistan policy?” to a candidate whose strand of foreign policy politics that might stray from bipartisan establishment orthodoxy, and who’s expressed a desire to call attention to an issue as important as the war in Afghanistan, one even the Defense Secretary is trying to push into the news cycle, suggests political interest in the culture wars remains much higher than on the issues that actually determine the course of the country."

    That is a very impressive single sentence...i think... I need to finish reading it before I can make a definitive judgement

  • popo.jay||

    At least I'm not the only one...I had to read it 3 times to make sense of the damn thing and find out where it was headed...

  • ||

    Anonbots have grown cynical...

    I think this will give us at least 2 extra years until they decide to get rid of us.

  • ||

  • BakedPenguin||

    I don't think so. The "restored" version looked like a demented cartoon koala Jesus.

  • Virginian||

    Good for him. I seriously am tired of bullshit culture war issues making the news while the economy continues to deteriorate and American soldiers continue to kill and die for no fucking purpose whatsoever.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Is marijuana legalization/medical MJ a culture-war issue - and if so, should that issue be ignored, too?

    Or so some culture war issues turn out to be important after all, depending on one's preference?

  • ||

    Would you say that you're obsessed with abortion, or extremely obsessed with abortion?

    Mac: [yelling outside an abortion clinic] Pro-choice is pro-death!

    Megan: Wow! Great rhetoric!

    Mac: Thank you.

    Megan: Hey, you're really hardcore, aren't you?

    Mac: Oh, well, you know. I mean, if you really want to see hardcore...[pulls out a paper and gives it to Megan]

    Megan: What's this?

    Mac: That's the list of doctors I'm gonna kill.

    Megan: There's two already crossed out.

    Mac: Yeah, I know.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Pro prohibition is pro-death!

    Wanna see my list of DEA agents?

    (Note: This is strictly a joke, responding to Epi's comment)

  • ||

    So it's extremely obsessed. I already knew that, but wanted to see what you'd say.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    You may have noticed that I responded to your joke with a joke about the average HampersandR denizen's obsession with MJ. NTTAWWT.

    But, alas, you seem to have missed the point.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Is Megan a character on *Family Guy?*

  • ||

    Talk about missing the fucking point.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    All I have to say is that atheism is clearly a religion and there's nothing wrong with circumcision.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    "Democrats were quick to brand Baumgartner as a far-right extremist for signing the 2010 Spokane County Republican platform [link]"

    Well, look what's the first item on that platform:

    "1) Life: Nothing is more important than the protection of those least able to protect themselves. Without Life, there can be no enjoyment of Liberty or the Pursuit of Happiness. Thus, Life is from conception until natural death."

    Was he yanking everyone's chain when he voluntarily signed that platform?

  • ||

    If he is such a foaming at the mouth extremist pro-lifer then why is he trying to ignore it and instead emphasizing his position on the War which every political candidate and party is trying their hardest to ignore?

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    I don't know *why* he signed that platform saying "nothing is more important" than life. Why don't you ask him?

  • Ed||

    Opposing the war in Afghanistan is pretty pro-life

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    I quite agree. The platform plank was broad enough to take in war *and* abortion, if read correctly, don't you think?

  • Ed||

    It's as self-consistent as it gets!

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    The specific provisions of the platform re abortion are in Section 1, saying that

    "Republicans

    "...c. Advocate for the sanctity of life from conception to natural death;

    "d. Demand that no public funds be used to fund abortion here, or anywhere else in the world"

    Is he boasting about going back on d?

  • ||

    Why don't you ask him?

    I know why he signed it.

    He is pro-life/anti-war and he has said as much.

    I also know why you are emphasizing his pro-life stance over his anti-war stance. (which is contrary to his record and his statements)

    Because you are a hack.

  • ||

    Life is from conception until natural death.

    Sounds like he is also against euthanasia...perhaps you should be pointing out his "extreme" ideology on that position as well Eduard.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Euthanasia could well be coming to a hospital near you in the future...unless of course people like Baumgartner oppose it. So please take Baumgertner's advice.

  • ||

    Pretty sure Baumgertner is not all the interested in Euthanasia and very interested in ending the war in Afghanistan.

    I am guessing that is why he told a reporter "The culture wars are not why I’m in the state senate"

    But yeah mr hacky hacky keep up the good work of culture warring.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    You just outed yourself as a culture warrior below, although on another issue.

    This should be your sig line: "Abortion is a culture war issue, but pot totally isn't, man!"

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    "I also know why you are emphasizing his pro-life stance over his anti-war stance."

    Wait, what? In what way am I downplaying his antiwar stance? I was responding the the claim that abortion is a nonissue, a cultural distraction, unlike marijuana which is a matter of vital concern even in the midst of a recession.

  • ||

    unlike marijuana which is a matter of vital concern even in the midst of a recession.

    Pot is not a culture war issue. There is a culture that wants to keep it illegal sure...but the ideology that wishes to legalize it is not informed by cultural aspects.

    Legalizing pot should be legal because the government should not be in the pot regulating business.

    Polls show 52% think it should be outright legal...pretty sure all 52% isn't saying they want it legal so they can smoke up.

    I guess you could argue that the size and scope of government is a cultural issue...but then you would also have to concede that the economic policy (recession) is cultural as well.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    "Pot is not a culture war issue."

    Holy shit, I almost bust a gut laughing.

    "Legalizing pot should be legal because the government should not be in the pot regulating business."

    Yes, I want MJ to be legal, which means that share your view on this particular culture war issue. But I won't pretend I'm not taking sides in a culture war, or that it's only culture war when the other side does it. That is simply...mentally challenged.

  • ||

    How exactly is pot, or any drug for that matter, a culture war topic?

    If the government can tell you what you can and can't use to get high, it can tell you what food to eat and how big your soda cup can be. That seems like a pretty broad attack on liberty.

  • ||

    Which story is underreported:
    1. Baumgartners stance on Afghanistan
    2. Akin's rape comments

    What is a reporter's job:
    A. To report facts that people don't already know
    B. To report the same thing that everyone else is reporting on
    C. To get Republicans to say things that we don't like.

    ???

  • popo.jay||

    All of the above?

  • Emmerson Biggins||

    Yo, Reason:

    Google Brandon Raub. I think it is worth covering more than you have.

  • Enough About Palin||

    Tank god I'm at home.

    DRINK!!!

  • Enough About Palin||

    Just finished RTFA; Whoa!

  • Enough About Palin||

    This one (I forgot that I had to Google for it; please post a link next time, Emmerson.):

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Having read the article, I can see how Baumgartner got pissed. Baumgartner had *already* issued a statement denouncing Akin, and the reporter basically called him to taunt him about linking his own "extreme" position to Akin's. I'd tell the reporter to fuck off, too, especially if he's missing a very newsworthy article about a Republican candidate opposing the war.

    "Never mind how you go against your party's kneejerk militarism to promote a consistent culture of life, why don't you issue yet another statement about Akin in addition to your existing denunciation? Aren't you really a rape-supporter just like him?"

  • The Derider||

    He asked "How is your position on abortion different than Akin's?"

    And his answer was "I have empathy for the victims of rape. Rape is a tragedy. It’s a terrible thing. Certainly, we need to give victims all the help we can. There is no place in politics for uttering something so ignorant about pregnancy and rape"

    Which is saying "I also want to force women to bear the children of rapists but I have empathy." He's mad a reporter asked him a question that he wanted to avoid. Condemning Akin means nothing when your policy positions are identical.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    They're not identical because Akin suggested you can't get pregnant from rape. Baumgartner was disagreeing with that, not with the protection of the unborn.

    And he was pissed that the reporter was so into gotcha questions that he left out the key issue of the Afghanistan war, and its hemhorrage (sp?) of blood and treasure. Why not ask his opponent how long she wants to continue the war, and whether it's OK to rape the taxpayers to make them pay for a conflict which has passed the point of diminishing returns.

  • ||

    He's mad a reporter asked him a question that he wanted to avoid.

    It is not unreasonable to want to avoid stupid questions.

    Of course what you claim never happened. He did not get pissed until after the article was published. My guess is he talked more about Afghanistan and other issues that the reporter choose to avoid in his article by focusing on the culture war garbage.

    It does not surprise me at all that you of all people would not want an anti-war republican talking about the Afgan war.

  • ||

    The reporters job ought to be to report on more than one story, and it ought to be about more than harassing Republicans to get them to say things that voters don't like.

    You really think a journalists job is to ask questions Republicans don't like versus, say, covering as many stories as possible from as many different perspectives as possible?

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