Max Baucus has represented Montana in the U.S. Senate since 1978, and has been re-elected six times. He plans to run again next year.
Baucus has overcome a slew of criticisms to maintain his grip on the biggest pot of money on planet Earth. Critics say Baucus has lost touch with Montana, doesn’t live there, and rarely visits the state he represents. I believe voters cut him some slack on that one. His work is in the nation’s capital, and it makes sense that he should have a home there. Still, many Montanans are concerned that 91% of his previous campaign funds came from out-of-state sources.
Max’s personal morals have also been called into question, including lurid stories in the national press of divorces and infidelity, jobs for girlfriends, and crony capitalism. The video of Baucus’ apparently-inebriated speech on the Senate floor has 2 million YouTube hits. Defenders say he was just “tired” – watch the video and judge for yourself. But Bill Clinton lowered the threshold of voter pain on skanky behavior, and Barack Obama has established crony paybacks as an acceptable primary fundraising strategy in the expensive world of national politics. The “Foster Brooks” impersonation was avoided by the mainstream media. Montanans might believe lapses in personal ethics can be overlooked if their congressman votes right.
Montanans should be alarmed, however, when Baucus’ votes and considerable influence run counter to their principles. Responses from the last five years of Montana Chamber of Commerce surveys indicate:
- 64% (5-yr. avg.) of Montana voters say our national economy is on the ‘wrong track’, versus 23% ‘right track’, with chronic unemployment, anemic GDP growth, and irreparable debt and deficits. All that time Senator Baucus has been at the helm of Senate committees including Finance, Taxation, IRS Oversight, Long-term Growth, Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Growth, and Deficit Reduction. The Senate has not passed a budget for four years, and looks as if they never will.
- While Montanans’ top financial concern continues to be health care costs, Senator Baucus led the charge for ObamaCare, despite knowing it would raise taxes on Americans, damage Medicare, and add to the national debt and deficits. He has always been tight with “Big-Pharma” lobbyists, and remains one of the leading recipients of political contributions from health insurance and pharmaceutical companies.
- A solid majority of Montanans have unfavorable opinions of environmental groups, labor unions, and trial lawyers. Baucus supported unpopular global warming legislation, the unions salivate over the millions of new members they will gain thanks to his health care reform plans, and trial lawyers shovel endless money to Baucus campaigns in exchange for avoiding tort reform in Max’s health care bills.
With all of this baggage, and Baucus’ apparent disdain for Montana voters, how does he keep getting re-elected?
Is it the huge sums of money required for an opponent to even consider going toe-to-toe with the well-connected incumbent Senator? (He has already amassed a $3 million war chest for the the next go-around.)
Is it the decades of pork he has funneled to his state? (Montana receives $1.47 back from the federal government for every dollar it pays in taxes.)
Is it his personal charm and boyish good looks? (Women do tend to vote for Democrats.)
It’s time for good conservatives (some of whom are Republicans) to start a serious search for a Senate contender who does not have personal baggage, who can win the hearts and minds of those with financial means, and who is serious about a calling higher than re-election.
Can anybody displace Max Baucus? It just doesn’t seem like it should be that hard.
Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side
How do you do what you do to me?
I’m feeling blue.
Wish I knew how you do it to me,
But I haven’t a clue.
How Do You Do It? – Gerry and the Pacemakers
(also recorded by the Beatles)
Here’s a great video of one of the most under-rated musicians (Gerry Marsden) and bands (the Pacemakers) of the sixties and the British Invasion. Enjoy!