Montana Politics

Lazy Commentary in Salon About the Montana House Race

Glenn Greenwald peered down from Mt. Beltway today to offer this lazy assessment of the Montana Democratic primary for the House, when identifying Franke Wilmer as a candidate to support:

Each faces a primary race, and none is the favored candidate of the Party apparatus or its leadership (those challengers favored by the Party machine are invariably corporatist types or poll-shaped, soul-less careerist politicians expected to be loyal Party foot soldiers if they win). For obvious reasons, none of these three candidates is going to receive any real support from the lobbyist and corporate class that typically finances these elections. But polling and other indicia demonstrate that victory for all three is realistic (though far from certain).

I’m not exactly sure how long Mr. Greenwald spent on Google before writing that nonsense about Ms. Wilmer’s opponents, but while he’s certainly right that she’s an independent, progressive candidate, he’s equally wrong about her opposition.

While I certainly have some reservations about Diane Smith’s candidacy, given her previous support for Republicans and her perspective that seems to put the interests of business ahead of workers, to suggest that any of the other Democratic candidates are “corporatist” or “careerist politicians” is not only a lazy characterization, but entirely dishonest.

Both Kim Gillan’s record and the list of people endorsing her make it clear that she’s absolutely on the right side of  issues critical to Montana families.  To suggest that Gillan, Dave Strohmaier, or Rob Stutz are somehow more interested in corporations than people or that they will put party politics ahead of doing what’s right for Montana families demonstrates a fundamental absence of knowledge about their records and values.

While it’s certainly nice to have the attention of nation’s political elite on the Montana House race, it would be even better if they knew something about it before writing. The candidates he attacked—and Ms. Wilmer—deserve better.

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.


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  • Damn.. there are SEVEN Democratic Candidates for the House? I knew of only four (and frankly, I just found out about Rob Stutz today while discussing Health Care over at Cowgirl's blog.

    This should be an interesting race to say the least. I just hope that the rancor usually associated with the Republican Primaries doesn't raise it's ugly head like it is in the AG race.

  • Greenwald sent out questionnaires and found among all those that answered, there were three viable progressives. I doubt that any of the other Montana Democrats bothered to answer. His writing on Wilmer, along with Norman Soloman and Bothwell in NC, pretty well sums up the sad state of affairs for progressives in US poltics. There aren't many of us, and a whole lotta corporatists and Democratic followers.

    It was not a result of Google or slim research. Did you even read the piece? Wow, what a cheap shot.

    Gillan? I thought when I ran with her in 1996 in Yellowstone County that she was in the wrong party. She seemed like a plant. Blue Dog is an appropriate description. Glenn is wrong in suggesting that she'll toe the line for Democratic leadership down the right wing as they normally travel. She'll more likely follow the Republicans. You've got yourself another Ben Nelson.

    • He didn't even know how many candidates were running in the race and he dismissed the "two" other than Wilmer without a single shred of evidence.

      Just because someone agrees with your viewpoint doesn't mean he's right–or that he used any diligence when coming to his conclusions. In fact…

      • Just because someone disagrees with your viewpoint does not mean that they are wrong. Greenwald is a civil libertarian. As such, he supports candidate who support such views. They are few. Wilmer is one.

        If there were others in the Montana fold, he'd kow about them. As it is, you're going to give us Max Gillan. Lord know we don't need another right wing Democrat.

    • Just because someone disagrees with your viewpoint does not mean that they are wrong. Greenwald is a civil libertarian. as such, he supports candidates who oppose Obama's killing of an American without due process, and Obama's signing of the bill that allows the executive to disappear Americans. Parties be damned, those candidates are few.

      And this is where you Democrats are so exasperating. If Bush were doing this you'd oppose him. Because it's Obama, you support him. You are not thinking. You are following.

      Offer up one Montana candidate that has spoken out on Greenwald's issues., who has dared oppose the executive. Wilmer has. We're talking moral courage here. We need Tom Towe, not Kim Gillan. We need principled people, not followers. What have you got?

      Give some evidence of principled stands. .

      • Wrap your brain around this complex concept: I generally support Obama, but oppose his policies when it comes to dealing with the "terrorist threat." I know that's complex, because it doesn't rest in your self-assured world of black and white certainty, but there it is.

        As for Greenwald, check back when he actually knows how many people are running for the office and I'll take his assessment of the candidates seriously. For now, he's just you with a bigger platform–dismissing people he knows almost nothing about, without even troubling to provide accurate information or evidence.

        • It's not complex at all. It's quisling. You don't fight him on some really important stuff because you "generally support him."

          The stuff you overlook is really, really important to some of us. You really need to fight him, but fear of Republicans and lesser evil thinking stops you. But the issues are so important at we know that you would be with us except that …Obama is a Democrat.

          And it's far more than that. Obama has achieved massive gains for the right wing in general. It's not just civil liberties, or as you call it, "terrorism." It's taxes and environment and health care and support of Wall Street, failure to enact financial reforms or protect consumers, keeping Elizabeth Warren out of office, interfering in a primary to support right winger Michael Bennet, putting Social Security on the table – he's been the Manchurian, and you "generally support him" because he's a Democrat.

          It is indeed exasperating. You'd never support a Republican who did what he has done. I remember the line from Star Trek … "Jim, he's not just dead. His brain is gone."

          • You're even less coherent than usual today, Mark.

            Nice deflection back to the same tired ground. Everyone gets it. You think President Obama is a bad, bad man. We know. Trust me. We all know, exactly what you think.

            That doesn't change the fact that you tried to defend an article that's even lazier than the analysis you tend to provide.

            • It needed some fixing. Auto correct on an iPad is tough.

              Yeah, I know, you get it. These nails do not pierce concrete. Greenwald called you out on principle. I asked you to give us evidence of principled stands from your Bauus leaguers, and you don't even try because evidence does not exist. They are second and third rate people.They sense where power is an know not to cross it. they are good Democrats.

              I read Greenwald regularly. I read you regularly. Need I say more?

              • Did you want to try to construct a defense of his article? You know, the one in which he couldn't name a single issue that defined unnamed candidates as "corporatists"? The one in which he couldn't even accurately number the candidates running for the office?

                In your world, it's perfectly acceptable to dismiss someone for not measuring up to your standard of ethics, because everything is black and white. In my worldview, you need to at least provide some evidence.

                There's nothing wrong with Greenwald suggesting Ms. Wilmer is a candidate to support. It's just too bad that he has to be so unethical in tearing down her opponents.

                But hey, the ends justify the means when you're right, don't they?

                • It's wrong to tear down opponents? On Mars? Greenwald said that she is opposed by two Blue Dogs, easy enough to name – Kim Gillan and Diane Smith. I doubt he knows more about any of the others, and don't care as he only set out to highlight three exceptional people. If your tent is so big that Republicans can run alongside Democrats and be given equal weight, perhaps you oughta fold it.

                  Greenwald doesn't spend much time on partisan politics, and said so, because he knows as well as I do that the horse races are time sinks with no wins for progressives. His objective is to highlight the careers of three very impressive people. There is no one in the Montana race with creds like Wilmer's, and if the nominee is either Gillan or Smith, then we've lost. So tear away, rip up the tent! (Hint: Greenwald is not a Democrat. He has no obligations to the party to be fair to your milquetoast field.)

                  Your attitude that are all equal until primary day and then we back the winner is non-starter. Issues matter more than people. Most people who run are third rate, and the party prefers third rate people, as the money behind the scenes is non-principled and only wants preservation of power.. Ergo, two right wing parties and men of low caliber, like Baucus, own senate seats for decades. Yawn.

          • "And it's far more than that. Obama has achieved massive gains for the right wing in general."

            No, in general, he simply hasn't done what you've wanted. He didn't lower taxes, he simply failed to raise them. He didn't create the healthcare crisis here, he just didn't fix it to your liking. He withdrew from Iraq…but, somehow you didn't like that either, because it was done with cooperation from the Iraqi government, I guess? He didn't invade Libya, or Syria, despite your predictions and despite the desire of the Bush administration to do so.

            I support Obama because he handled the crisis in Libya without losing any American lives, leaving Gaddafi in power, or increasing civilian deaths. I support Obama because he passed the stimulus package which helped employ me when I needed it most, and because he signed the end of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and because I've seen first hand the way he has improved our standing in the world.

            • Eesh! Obamabots. Can't change perceptions, even as reality goes its merry way.

              He promised to end the Bush tax cuts, and instead preserved them. Fact. How you alter your perception is indeed telling!

              He tried to keep American troops in Iraq, but the Iraqis, who (crazy as it seems) won that war, would not allow it unless American troops and contractors were subject to Iraqi laws and courts. US pulled back, though not out. Far from cooperating, the War Dept backed down. Call it "Obama" if you imagine such fantasies are real.

              NATO attacked Libya. I suppose if only American lives matter, you've got an imperialistic hubristic point. We don't know how many Libyan lives were lost, as we don't do body counts. We don't know what the future holds there other than violence continues and is spreading. We do know that Qaddafi was murdered, not because he was a bad guy, but because he knew shit.

              You can always go down a list of events over a period of years and give your hero credit – DADT was on its way out. Stimulus was underdone, too much tax cut, not enough infrastructure. We don't know how long this recovery will last as the structural defects have not been fixed.

              enuf. This is hero worship. No matter what he does, you will make it into something more than it is because he is your guy. He can do no wrong. It's idolatry. You're not thinking anymore, and I don't suppose you'll start again until a Repulican takes office. In the meantime, your guy is doing a yeoman's job .. for the right wing.

              Karl Rove predicted a permanent Republican majority. I did not understand what he meant, but he was right, it appears..

  • I find it easier to simply ignore Mark most of the time. His responces make no sense what so ever and he lives in a self centered fantasy world while decrying that we all are simply not enlightened. Let's look as some examples –

    Mark's first complaint was that the Bush era tax cuts were maintained. What Mark fails to realise is that A) at least some of those tax cuts remaining was the will of the majority of the American People and (more importantly) B) The Office of the President of the United States has ZERO authority to enact or repeal taxes. NONE. This ability and responcibility is entirely the pervue of Congress. If Mark did not live in a fantasy world, he would realise this.

    I would like to point out another major accomplishment of President Obama that should never be forgotten. Through direct action that HE does have authority over, a bullet was put in the brainpan of one Osama Bin Ladin. Do not disregard just how monumental that will be come November.

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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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