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Not so funny

Zinke's Draft America's Daughters Act fails to make his point



I am a war guy now. I have strong opinions about ISIS, which the president is not doing enough to stop, and about the war in Afghanistan, which the president is not doing enough to win. We need to let our troops do their jobs. They are America's heroes. We should ensure a steady supply of heroes in the future by reinvading Iraq, plus Syria and maybe Iran.

My policy on global warming is that it is not as important as ISIS. My policy on jobs is join the army. If you disagree with these positions, I invite you to engage with me publicly in a push-up contest.

Longtime readers may be surprised or even offended by my new personality. I don't like it any more than you do, but Rep. Ryan Zinke has left me no choice. I have to be a professional war guy now, because with the Draft America's Daughters Act, Commander Zinke has become a satirist.

The DAD Act would require women between the ages of 18 and 26 to register for the draft, just as men do now. Rep. Zinke cosponsored it with Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., a former U.S. Marine. Both men have told reporters the DAD Act is a response to Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter's decision, in December, to open all military combat positions to women.

"It's unfortunate that a bill like this even needs to be introduced," Hunter said in a statement from his office. "And it's legislation that I might very well vote against should it be considered during the annual defense authorization process."

Do you see what he's doing there? Hunter and Zinke are pretending to support something they don't actually like in order to make a point. Both men publicly oppose opening combat specializations to women "without regard for the research and perspective of the Marine Corps and special operations community." They argue that if you let women fight on the front lines, drafting them is the next logical step.

Here we see that Zinke and Hunter bring to satire roughly the same precision I bring to automatic weapons. There's a big difference between allowing women to become combat specialists and conscripting them. Conflating the two is like saying that if you're going to allow women's boxing, you might as well go home and punch your daughter in the face.

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We're not talking about what we make all women do. We're talking about what we let qualified women do. If Zinke and Hunter wanted to set up a clean parallel, they might submit a bill allowing women architects to design government buildings or letting women astronauts go to space. Of course, those things are already legal. But maybe if Commander Zinke introduced a bill like that, he might finally sponsor a piece of legislation that passed.

Currently, his record stands at zero. He has introduced no bills to Congress that became law. For a freshman representative, that's to be expected. They don't let you design your own pie on your first day at the pizzeria, either. But Zinke's year of legislative irrelevance, combined with his ongoing public performance as a gung-ho veteran who happens to be in Congress, makes now a bad time to sponsor funny bills.

If Zinke doesn't want to pass the Draft America's Daughters Act, what would he like to do? You know, if somebody made him a U.S. representative?

If his answer is to go on TV and remind everyone that he used to be a Navy SEAL, mission accomplished. If we sent him to Washington to second-guess the president and pose for pictures holding a rifle painted to look like the American flag, victory is ours. But if Montana's voice in Congress is going to say something more than "hooah!" this session, Commander Zinke needs to stop screwing around. He should embrace his role as a lawmaker and make some laws, instead of putting on a show.

Satire is a tough business. Okay, it's not tough at all—especially compared to getting shot at in the desert or waterboarded in San Diego or any of the other awful things Zinke had to endure during his career as a Navy SEAL. That stuff is much harder than saying something is good in order to imply that it's actually bad.

But the hardest thing of all might be to work with the House of Representatives. Going to Washington and really doing something—not just puffing out your chest and saying the other guy hasn't done enough, but actually changing the course of the United States—is definitely harder than joking around. For all I know, it's harder than fighting a war. Sometimes I worry Zinke wouldn't know either, because he keeps taking the easy way out.

Dan Brooks writes about politics, culture and, yes, satire at


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