11 October 2010

VFW's PAC Warfare on Boxer Endorsement

I was stunned to see the news peg that the Veterans of Foreign War (VFW) endorsed incumbent Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) in her bid for fourth term in the Senate. This seemed amazing especially after Boxer’s dressing down of a Brigadier General who politely called her Ma’am during a Senate Committee hearing last year. A little bit more searching revealed the campaign trompe-l'œil. While it is true that Senator Boxer did have a campaign event at Pasadena Community College on October 10th, the endorsement that she received was from the VFW-PAC.

Due to campaign finance laws, the VFW-PAC is a separate legal organization but its endorsement leads the public to be that the VFW is making that decision. The VFW HQ was that this mistaken perception was jaundicing the public perceptions of the VFW’s positions. To wit, VFW National Commander Richard Eubanks stated:

Obviously, an organization's political positions have to reflect the opinions of its members. But those opinions can't be perceived as ‘off the wall,’ and the methodology used this year to grade candidates obviously is skewed in favor of the incumbent. That isn’t fair, and it actually subverts the democratic process.

The VFW HQ is livid to be perceived as endorsing an incumbent like Boxer who shows little respect for those serving in the military and a politician to wants to cut the military budget in half.

Perhaps it is smart politics for the VFW-PAC to back a three term junior Senator who chairs several important Senate Committees. It may be that Boxer is good at constituent services or vying for Veterans benefits as a political panacea for virulently opposing those in the field. I question this bet as Boxer has shown difficulty polling 50% support, which is surprising for an entrenched liberal incumbent in a liberal state. Allowing the Boxer campaign to prominently feature the VFW-PAC’s support rather than quietly take the fund-raising works prominently puts the PAC against the will and overall interests of the parent organization.

Is this kerfuffle all just a distinction without a difference and allowing the VFW to save face?. Based upon the cri-de-coeur issued from Eubank’s office, this endorsement assault is serious. The VFW will conduct an agonizing reappraisal of the continued existence of the VFW-PAC next year.

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