Thanks, Max

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I am as critical of Max Baucus as anyone, but I want to express my appreciation for his heartfelt remarks on the floor of the Senate today about the Iraq War. Senator Baucus demonstrated real courage today, admitting that his vote in support of the war was wrong, and calling for a change in strategy that will bring our troops home. His entire remarks are available here, and I have excerpted this section.

I understand and sympathize with Americans who continue to support this war because they do not want their family and friends to have died in vain. I know what they feel. I struggled with that last summer when my nephew Phillip died in Iraq.

On July 29th, Marine Corporal Phillip Baucus, my brother John’s son, was killed during combat operations in the Al Anbar province. He was just 28 years old.

Phillip was a bright and dedicated young man. He was like a son to me. He had a loving wife and a bright future. His death was devastating.

I know what it’s like to wait on the flight line at Dover Air Force Base. I know what it’s like to greet the body of a fallen soldier and family member. I know what it’s like to pray for a reason, and to become determined not to lose.

I’m not the only Montanan who has grieved. 14 Montanans have lost their lives in Iraq. We grieve for them all.

Those men and women who have lost their lives have served a noble purpose. They have taught us lessons in courage.

We honor that courage by speaking up. We honor that courage by admitting that what we are doing is not working. And we honor that courage by finding a new direction.

Senator Baucus’s speech matters. His heartfelt, personal story and willingness to admit that he was wrong about the war demonstrate the kind of leadership he is capable of. The people of this nation and now, finally, its Senators, are challenging the logic of this absurd, hubristic war. Thank you, Senator Baucus, for representing what Montanans feel.

Note: See Matt’s take at Left in the West, as well.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a seventeen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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