Montana Politics

Time for the Bohlinger Campaign to Stop Using GOP Talking Points

If I were supporting a candidate who recently switched parties to run for Senate, I might be careful about copying the exact language of the party my candidate has recently forsaken. Bob Brigham has not done so.

“Bob Brigham [email protected] Jan 29

Everyone with integrity should decry “back room deals” – just let the voters decide. ”

The website , which paid for me to see their Facebook ad:

“Tell Governor Bullock: No Backroom Deals!”

Now, of course it’s impossible to actually let the voters decide who will replace Max Baucus before the next election – that is constitutionally the governor’s job. But when Bob Brigham says ‘let the voters decide’, what he means is to pass up a chance to have a Senator effective on day one in Washington and to give our (and supposedly Brigham and Bohlinger’s, as well) party a chance to retain (or reclaim, depending on your view of Max’s ideological purity) Baucus’s seat.

I’m not saying Bohlinger, or much less Brigham, is a secret Republican. They undoubtedly want to accomplish progressive goals, and believe that Bohlinger in the Senate is a better path to that goal than Walsh in the Senate. And maybe they are right; maybe Bohlinger has completely reformed his pro-life, anti-union stances. But the claim that the best chance for Democrats to win the election is to appoint a caretaker interim Senator is rather contradicted by the fact that Republicans are openly campaigning for that same outcome, because they believe (with somewhat more plausibility) that an open seat in 2014 will be easier to win than one occupied by John Walsh. What this looks like, as a result, is a case of a politician and/or his strategists putting their personal careers above the greater goals of the party and the movement they support.

It’s the oldest story in politics, and honestly probably an impossible one to recognize when your inside it, and I certainly don’t bear Bohlinger any ill-will, and will support him if he’s the candidate facing off against Daines. But when a strategist like Bob Brigham sees himself parroting the lines of the party he’s about to run against, he needs to step back and re-evaluate his priorities.

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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  • “What this looks like, as a result, is a case of a politician and/or his strategists putting their personal careers above the greater goals of the party and the movement they support.”

    Good point. Now substitute the word “Army” for “party” and it sounds like what John Walsh did when he coerced and bullied his junior officers to join a private organization so he could win a position on that same private organization to enhance his career.

    If Walsh and his defenders want to continue to talk about ethical behavior and leadership in this Senatorial campaign, then they should check out the Missoulian Letter to the Editor by Dan Tarter a retired U.S. Army colonel who lives in Missoula. It is not often one military officer publicly criticizes another for failed leadership and poor ethical judgment. Tarter clears up some of the legal background questions surrounding this case and takes Walsh to task on a number of key issues. Here are the highlights of his criticisms:

    “Walsh and his backers are trying to inoculate him against political damage by portraying the Army’s investigation and the reprimand Walsh received as Montana’s Adjutant General as “no big deal.” Do not buy it.”

    “. . . . .every soldier – active, reserve or ARNG – is subject to the Standards of Conduct. Every soldier, Walsh among them while he served, is required to review and acknowledge the Standards of Conduct annually. . . . . .These are not complex rules – they are not even particularly restrictive unless one aspires, as a uniformed officer, to indulge in overtly political or self-serving behavior. These straightforward guidelines are designed to prevent precisely the kind of behavior for which Walsh was disciplined.”

    “As the Adjutant General, it was Walsh’s duty to advise his governor that what he was doing – perhaps acceptable in a civilian context – is unacceptable in the military. His kick-the-can reasoning appears to be, “I told my boss; that washes my hands of it.” But it doesn’t. The dilemma, which isn’t really a dilemma at all, always was and remains Walsh’s to own.”

    “. . . . . in the relatively uncomplicated moral landscape of a state National Guard organization, John Walsh’s ethical judgment has been weighed, measured and found sorely wanting. Is this the kind of official that Montanans want to represent them in the miasmatic swamps of Washington, D.C.?”

  • For once Pogo can you stay on Point. This isn’t about Walsh! Its about Bob Brighams hapless understanding of American constitutional Law, Which gives Bullock the right to choose Max’s Successor…. kinda just like you. No such thing as a back room deal is going on here.

    Lastly, None of what you think Walsh did, matters at this point. It didn’t rise to any criminal Action on the part of the Military or Civilian law. If it did he would have gone to trial. What Part of this do you not understand? Spoiler Alert: Not a crime

  • Whether or not Walsh is appointed to the Senate to finish Baucus’ term, I doubt that Bohlinger will actually file for the senate. He’s running a “Hey, listen to me, I’ve still got something to say” campaign that varies in coherency, but I don’t think really intends to pony up a four-figure filing fee and spend the best days of the fishing season casting for votes in unfriendly waters.

  • Appointment of senators to fill expiring terms is an anachronism. But it is used effectively – Obama pushed for an Anschutz man, Michael Bennet, to fill the term of Salazar in Colorado, and headed progressives off at the pass. Bennet’s greatest achievement had been to lead the school district into financial derivatives that cost Denver at least $25 million. When Bennet was flailing in the primary in 2010, Obama personally intervened to head progressives off at the pass. Again.

    As used, appointments are a way to boost the careers of those otherwise unable to generate their own traction, but who toe the party line. Walsh seems to fit that bill. I’ve heard nothing about him in terms of guiding principles. Rather, he seems like a guy who plays well with the big guns, who is chosen to lead from above, and when he can’t get support from below, gets a hand up.

    Is he your typical suck-up piss-down party guy? Sounds like it. Another Democrat of questionable character and ethics has blind support of the just-win-baby crowd.

  • I suppose Bohlinger could always campaign on the success of Obamacare to creat jobs.

    The Affordable Care Act will reduce the number of full-time workers by more than 2 million in coming years, congressional budget analysts said Tuesday, a finding that sent the White House scrambling to defend a law that has bedeviled President Obama for years.

    After obtaining coverage through the health law, some workers may forgo employment, while others may reduce hours, according to a report by the Congressional Budget Office. Low-wage workers are the most likely to drop out of the workforce as a result of the law, it said. The CBO said the law’s impact on jobs mostly would be felt after 2016…

    The agency predicted that the number of Americans who buy private health plans through the new insurance exchanges before a March 31 deadline for coverage in 2014 will be 6 million, while the number of low-income people who join Medicaid this year will be 8 million.

    Both figures are one million fewer people than the CBO had forecast the last time it issued such a prediction, nine months ago.

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