Guest Column: Kansas National Guard service goes unnoticed


By Steve Haynes, Nor’West Newspapers

Does it seem odd to anyone else that 270 members of a Kansas National Guard unit went to the Texas border with Mexico for a year without any mention to the press or public by any official of the state of Kansas, especially Gov. Laura Kelly.
That’s probably because it is odd. Either the governor’s office or the Guard itself, through the Department of Homeland Security office in Topeka, usually announces any deployment of Guard troops, whether it’s for snow-fighting and rescue work in Kansas, or to Louisiana for hurricane cleanup duty.
Even troops authorized to go to Washington early this year for security duty after the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol got an announcement. Not the 270 poor souls who spent most of the last year helping Customs and Border Patrol officers defend the Rio Grande.
And why would that be?
You’ve got to understand, the governor is in a bad spot here. On her right, Republicans have been demanding that she send “state resources” to help secure the border, and on her left, the “woke” wing of her own party does not believe the border should be secure.
A Democratic governor in a red state has to walk a tightrope on many issues, including immigration. She can’t satisfy either the close-the-border crowd or the so-called progressives whose idea of border security is a welcome wagon at every entry point on the other.
It could be hard enough to hold onto her current office, but if that governor wants to go places – as our last Democrat to hold the office did – she has to retain at least some liberal credentials with the national party.
Gov. Sebelius played that game and won, we guess; she became secretary of health and human services in the Obama administration. Laura Kelly might have her eyes on such a prize, and so she’d be loath to announce any support for border control. It might not even be that she’s pro-open borders as much as she just needs every Democrat’s support.
But the game is tougher today, much tougher.
And announcement or no, the truth eventually comes out. When that’s a year later, of course, it might look even worse, like you were trying to hide something.
If anyone was slighted here, it would be those 270 soldiers and their families whose year on duty wasn’t important enough to be recognized. These are military people, however, and they’ll get over it.
The public might ask what kind of shop the governor is running in Topeka, however, where her people are not smart enough to know that eventually, things like this come back to haunt you.
And then they might ask, “What else are they hiding? What else will they own up to?”
Good questions, those.
Editor’s note: Steve Haynes is publisher of Nor’West Newspapers in northwest Kansas and a past president of the Kansas Press Association.