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.”

Cross-posted at The Optimistic Conservative.