Montana Politics

Brown-Schweitzer Debate Analysis

I really encourage anyone who can to watch this evening’s gubernatorial debate. In a world of media coverage that is often about tangential and incredibly superficial issues, this debate provides clear evidence that Roy Brown is simply not ready to be Governor, and that Governor Schweitzer has a much greater grasp of policy and research, two things that I consider important qualifications for the office.

What was most damaging to Brown? His absolute lack of specificity. His answer to the health care crisis? A Task Force. That’s not an adequate answer for Montana voters without insurance or those struggling to pay their premiums. Being governor is about leadership, and a pandering answer like that demonstrates that Brown doesn’t have a specific vision for the state. Even when asked a question that should have been in his area of expertise or at least interest, tax breaks, Brown offered absolutely no specifics. The nice editor from the Missoulian even had to give him a second crack at the question. If your campaign is based on the idea that you will best help the taxpayers of the state, you should know the answer to that question.

More troubling was a theme that I’ve addressed a few time: Brown’s insistence that Montana’s economy is not doing well. It’s hard to run against a popular, successful governor, but misrepresenting Montana’s economy in  a negative light is not the answer. Governor Schweitzer absolutely demolished Brown on this issue, with facts and strong statistical analysis showing that Montana’s economy is doing quite well, especially in a harsh national climate.

Brown may earnestly believe that Montana’s economy is in bad shape, just like he and Stan Jones earnestly believe that humans aren’t contributing to global warming. After eight years of the Bush Administration’s mismanagement of the nation, I think Montana voters are wise enough to realize that earnestly believing something that isn’t true is no substitute for doing the research and analysis necessary to uncover the truth. As for me, I’ll trust the Governor’s statistics and evidence over Senator Brown’s gut feeling about the economy.

So, tomorrow, when  you read the newspaper’s account of the debate, when it refers to a ‘heated exchange of ideas’ and selectively pulls quotes from the event, don’t let that be enough. Watch the debate in its entirety if you can. You’ll see that Governor Schweitzer has a much more impressive command of the basic facts and underlying issues that face Montana’s economy, students, and environment.

Side Note: Not one question about K-12 education? I told you so. 🙂

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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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