Today, after I called out John Bolhinger for parachuting in to the Medicaid Expansion debate with an ill-conceived and self-promoting call for a special session, I was lambasted by Bohlinger spokesperson/advisor/web master/svengali Bob Brigham, who wrote that he had never seen anyone so badly misunderstand a political strategy. Brigham, in a series of tweets and comments about Medicaid expansion, argued that the Bohlinger plan, was the best hope to achieve expansion. He wrote:
The Special Session is the best thing that could happen for the initiative campaign and the efforts of Democrats to win back the legislature. Special Sessions really are special.
The Democratic Governor of Montana doesn’t agree. Presumably the people who’ve done the work to pursue a ballot initiative don’t agree. And most interestingly, Bob Brigham doesn’t seem to agree. Here’s what he wrote about the idea of a special session for Medicaid expansion back in May:
#MTpol: @MTHumanRights is asking for a #MTleg Special Session on Medicaid?????
There is no theory of change for Medicaid being expanded in a Special Session. None.
The only valid theory of change for expanding Medicaid in Montana is via a ballot campaign.
Pushing for a Special Session distracts from the only valid method, it harms it. Having a Special Session would be the worst thing for expanding Medicaid, it’s most probable outcome would be the Arkansas model, either passing the session or getting traction as a competing citizen’s initiative.
For the life of me I can’t understand why MHRN is pushing something with zero upside but extensive downside.
Strategery like this is why Montana can’t have nice things.
I get that politics requires a certain willingness to engage in theatrics and even a bit of intellectual dishonesty, but this is perhaps the most egregious example of political opportunism over principle since Mitt Romney changed his mind on choice.
My point is not really to lambast Bob Brigham, but in the past few weeks, we’ve seen John Bohlinger attack most of the major Democratic political figures in the state, politicize a critical health question for 70,000 Montanans, and even make a fool of himself at a press conference where he inserted himself into the discussion when the press were asking questions about the ballot initiative.
He’s transforming himself from a respected statesman to something quite different—and I hope he’ll take a hard look at that change. It’s not good for the promotion of values and policies that matter to him, and I suspect it’s not good for him.
Come back, John. I think I’m not alone in saying I miss the guy who worked alongside Governor Schweitzer for eight years.