Montana Politics

Dennis Rehberg: the Kardashian Candidate for Congress

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Those of us from a certain generation occasionally are heard bemoaning contemporary culture’s fascination with fame for the sake of fame. Celebrity is increasingly earned by notoriety rather than achievement, with a popular Twitter feed having more cultural significance than real impact on the nation. No modern politician better embodies this than Representative Dennis Rehberg, who is

Rehberg’s the Kardashian candidate: known by everyone, though no one seems to have any idea why he’s in the news all the time.?

 tweeting his way through another election, 140 inane characters at a time.

While Montana Republicans complain ad nauseam about the media attention that Governor Brian Schweitzer receives, has any politician in Montana history been in the news more for having done less than Dennis Rehberg? Schweitzer has balanced the budget in difficult financial times; Rehberg has commemorated the Billings Post Office. Schweitzer has increased energy production in Montana; Rehberg has honored the Carroll football team. Schweitzer has increased access to health care for children; Rehberg has co-sponsored resolutions in Congress and fired off tweets plagiarized from Rush Limbaugh.

Agree or disagree with the decisions, but Schweitzer has accomplished  a great many things. Rehberg, in ten years, has done absolutely nothing but self-promote and add to the noise.

Rehberg’s the Kardashian candidate: known by everyone, though no one seems to have any idea why he’s in the news all the time.

He’s even had his sex tape moments: suing firefighters for protecting his property, falling drunken from a horse and breaking some ribs engaging in , to name a few, but in terms of substance, what has he created? What’s his legacy, after ten years in Congress?

It’s the perfect recipe for the post-modern political campaign. Simply blending these ingredients explains why Rehberg keeps winning re-election.

  • One clueless, bloviating politician marinated on privilege and right wing radio for a few decades.
  • An understaffed, often inexperienced media desperate to fill column inches with any content, no matter how self-serving.
  • A public often more interested in triviality than substance.

Why does all of this matter? It’s frustrating because, once again, Montanans will be deprived of a Congressional campaign about issues—it will be about “listening sessions” and “San Francisco trial lawyers” instead.

Wouldn’t it be refreshing to vote for a representative who acts like his job his passing legislation and improving the lives of his constituents?  Senators Tester and Baucus understand that’s their role; why can’t Rehberg (R-Twitter)?

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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