Baucus and Alito

I’ve never really wanted to vote for Max Baucus. Every time I’ve had the opportunity, I’ve held my nose and voted for him–because I didn’t want to be responsible for helping elect an Allan Kolstad or a Denny Rehberg. I don’t think I’ll being doing it again. There’s only so much passion that you can muster for a candidate who is marginally better than the other guy–and Baucus, at best, is moderately better than a centrist Republican.
Tomorrow, Baucus will no doubt vote against Samuel Alito, a move that will exemplify his political pattern: managing to stand for two things while not believing in either of them. Don’t buy it; don’t let him off the hook for this one. While voting ‘no’ tomorrow might give Baucus political cover, he and the Liebermans and the Salazars lost any claim to caring about the reproductive rights of women, the legitimate claims of workers against corporations, or the unbelievable power grab of the Executive under this administration, when they refused to stand in support of the filibuster of a man who clearly does not belong on the Supreme Court.
Wiser heads might argue that it’s preferable to continue supporting Baucus, lest the Republicans gain another seat. But what is the point of regaining the majority if you lose the beliefs that define your party along the way?

I won’t be supporting Senator Baucus again. It’s time to clear the way for a real supporter of the rights of ordinary Americans, not a politician so afraid of being a Democrat that it’s often hard to tell he is one.

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba has been writing about Montana politics since 2005 and teaching high school English since 2000. He's a 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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  • Come on….I’m all for intelligent discontent, but Max has 100% with NARAL. You can’t tell me that he doesn’t stand up for reproductive rights of women.

    Refusing to stand for a filibuster doesn’t mean that he endorses Alito. It’s called being smart, and knowing your constituancy. Go ahead and vote for someone besides Baucus in the primary, and watch them fall on that ever-uncomfortable sword you’d like to set up for Max.

    Do I agree with everything Max does or says? Absolutely not. Do I recognize how much he’s done for this state? Betcher ass.

  • That’s just the point, though. Baucus may have preserved his 100% with NARAL by voting against Alito today, but that was a hollow gesture–and he knew it. How can Baucus claim to care about the rights of womyn when he lacked the courage to expend a tiny bit of political capital by standing with those willing to filibuster?

    Leadership is about principle. Leadership is about taking risks for the things you believe in. It’s certainly not about covering yourself with NARAL approval scores when you know that your actions will result in decreased access to abortion for poor womyn.

    When historians are writing about the Roberts-Alito-Scalia court and its assault on the rights of Americans, will lacking the courage to stand have been worth it?

  • Sure.

    Let me paint a freaking picture, then.

    Baucus jumps on the filibuster bandwagon. Nuclear option. Hells busts open. Alito confirmed anyway.

    Baucus, squirming on that ever-present “risk-taker” sword, is now labeled in his RED homestate as an obstructionist by the MAJORITY OF VOTERS IN MONTANA WHO ARE AGAINST A FILIBUSTER IN THIS CIRCUMSTANCE.

    Baucus, previously pretty safe but completely knowledgable of the state in which he lives and the voting demographic therein, having spent tens of thousands on really good polls, now gets beat by Roy Brown, or Bob Keenan, or Denny Rehberg, or some other equally as horrifying candidate that Rove hand picks and hand funds.

    Just where, exactly, do you think the Women’s Movement would be THEN? One ally shorter? You think?

    Listen, I completely get where you’re coming from. I want them all to take chances every day, because dammit, these causes are worth taking chances FOR. But I’m also a realist, and have been through far too many elections in this state to think that they actually CAN take those risks daily and KEEP THEIR JOBS.

    Don’t like it? Move to San Fran, or Mass., or Conn., or any number of great Senate districts that elect and re-elect idealistic Senators who are so comfortable in their idealism (missoula…cough cough…helena…cough cough…) that they just can’t wrap their minds around someone who actually has to play politics once and a while.

  • So the argument you really want to rely on here is “Love it or Leave it”. Seriously?I thought those kind of arguments were best left to the other side.

    Here’s the thing. This isn’t a small issue. This is a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court. If Baucus’s position is really so tenuous that standing for his principles ALMOST THREE YEARS before his next election will cost him the election, maybe it’s time to move on. I might also suggest that if Baucus truly had the influence party hacks ascribe to him, perhaps he could have worked to persuade more Senators to work to block Alito.

    Play politics once in awhile? Once in awhile?

    I think instead of pointing fingers at idealists ( you know, the people who support the ideals that this party should stand for) in Helena and Missoula, maybe party people (cough cough) ought to stop being more concerned with the D behind someone’s name than with the ideals they stand for.

  • Good to know.

    So there are a total of 4 Senators who stand up to your idea of a person worth a vote.

    Good to know.

    Hmmm…I wonder just where folks get the idea that Democrats are elitist?

  • Hmmm, I wonder where people get the idea that the Democrats can’t fight back and don’t have principles. (See, that’s an easy game to play).

    What about the substance of my remarks?

    Isn’t this a critical issue? What would be important enough for Baucus to stand up for if not this?
    Is Baucus so weak that he can’t afford this three years out?

    Four Senators?
    According to the e-mail I got from John Kerry today, there were more than that. 🙂

  • True Blue,

    Do you blog? Do you have a name? Care to share who you are?

    I am not sure if you are answering the substance of Don’s post but I find it amusing that you use the same argument to support Max that Conrad uses to support his reelection campaign: “Do I recognize how much he’s done for this state? Betcher ass.”

    Ignoring Alito, a nominee that I believe will be a disaster for choice, I think that Senator Baucus has been less than aggressive about standing up to the Republicans in the past several years. He seems to have bought into the idea that working in the other side means doing whatever the majority says.

  • Jason.



    No. Sorry.

    I think that you may be misinterpreting what my intent is. Or was.

    I would love, absolutely love, for each and every Democratic elected out there to stand up and fight and fight and fight for each and every good cause. I know that can’t happen. I know this because I live in a state that doesn’t let it happen.

    Please note:”Listen, I completely get where you’re coming from. I want them all to take chances every day, because dammit, these causes are worth taking chances FOR. But I’m also a realist, and have been through far too many elections in this state to think that they actually CAN take those risks daily and KEEP THEIR JOBS.”

    Perhaps my idealism has to take shape in late night arguments with Republicans, and perhaps some of it is in a drawer somewhere with the Birks I wore to rally after rally in college. That’s something I have to reconcile personally. The reality is that we live in Montana. Montana is red. We have to take baby steps to get it back to blue.

    It can happen. It will happen. I’m working to help it happen. So are you. However, until then, I am not going to kick Max in the nuts for acting in a manner that allows him to keep his job. Because his job is too important to Montanans.

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