Let Them Eat Snark: The Daines Comms Staff Gets Cute While He Votes to Kill People

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I get it. It must be incredibly difficult to work Communications for Steve Daines, a one-term Senator-by-accident who is so chicken shit afraid of his own constituents that he not only refuses to meet with them in person, but is also so lacking in integrity and fortitude that he refused to disclose how he would vote on a series of bills that, if passed, will cost one million jobs, kill 25,000 people, and drive 70,000 Montanans from health care coverage.

Working for someone like that has to be frustrating, but it’s hardly an excuse for obtusely trying to be amusing when discussing critical legislation. Earlier today, I took to Twitter to express my frustration with the position Daines has taken, that tax cuts for the wealthy are worth more than human lives. I was scolded by one Katie Rose Waldman, who works Comms for Senator Daines, who found my “rhetoric” unacceptable.

Pretty rich for the party of Donald Trump and the party of devastating health care to take someone to task for rhetoric, but so be it.

When I pressed, Ms. Waldman asked me to show where in the bill text it says that Senator Daines and/or the bill will kill people. It’s not entirely clear what she meant, but let’s assume the bill’s passage.

The evidence is actually quite clear. The Los Angeles Times says tens of thousands of people a year will die.  Vox says 24,000 annually, even more than die of gun violence in the U.S. Those leftist physicians at the New England Journal of Medicine say 43,956 annually.

Now the bill, I’ll admit, doesn’t explicitly state that people will die. The only kinds of bills that literally spell out each of their consequences in the text are bills to rename post offices, a power that Senator Daines dreams of some day achieving in a body where he is regarded as one of the least effective and least influential members.

I don’t point out Ms. Waldman’s childish response to mock her as a person, but to highlight the absurdity of the Republican position on health care reform. Given six years to write a reform bill, they’ve failed. Given unchecked power over all three branches of the federal government, they’ve failed. After deriding the Affordable Care Act for not having been transparent enough, despite hundreds of hearings, Senate Republicans couldn’t even tell the American public the day before the vote what the bill they’d be discussing would even be.

And Ms. Waldman’s foray in Twitter is the embodiment of the Republican effort to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. Instead of an honest debate about the subtance of the bill, they chosen obfuscation and childishness. I’m not concerned about dangerous, or even empty, snarky rhetoric, but I am deeply concerned that the Republican Party (and Montana’s Steve Daines) don’t have the respect for our democratic institutions and process necessary to honestly discuss their bill nor the decency to care about the lives of real people, lives that will be lost if the vote goes the way Senator Daines wants it to.

The Daines staff can lecture me about responsibile rhetoric all they like. Perhaps, though, they can also take a moment to advise their boss that his job involves speaking to the people back home and facing their legitimate fears and worries.

That the Senator won’t do that on a bill that is a literal matter of life and death suggests his staff has a bigger problem than the rhetoric of constituents.

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an eighteen-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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  • Our declaration of war against Japan didn’t contain the word “kill,” but no one on Earth thought we intended to do nothing more than play slappy face and hurl refined imprecations at Tojo and Hirohito.

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