New Ads from Steve Daines and Matt Rosendale Preview How Grotesque and Dishonest Their Campaigns Will Be

Two new ads on Facebook demonstrate quite clearly that Montanans can look forward to Steve Daines and Matt Rosendale deploying two campaigns that will say anything—no matter how dishonest or repellent—to get their candidates elected in November. While Rosendale hit the web with a laughably untrue ad, Daines went with standard-issue xenophobia against China that ignores Daines’s own, long record of supporting the Chinese government.

First, the Rosendale ad, which honestly had me wondering at first why he was attacking Greg Gianforte, the only person in D.C. who has a real record of putting up gates on public lands.

That Rosendale is claiming to support expanding access to public lands is just about as phony as his contention that he’s a Montana rancher because once he fixed up some fence. Rosendale’s public land record is worse than any major candidate in Montana history.

In 2014, he supported the transfer of federal lands to the state, an extremist agenda that would bankrupt the state of Montana and force it to transfer millions of acres to private hands. While he said that he had changed his mind just in time for the 2018 Senate campaign, Rosendale has worked for the American Lands Council, and outfit that condemns federal ownership of public lands, including our national parks. He even went on militia radio in 2014 to demand that the federal government turn over the public lands we all enjoy.

And who can forget the moment in the 2018 campaign when he staged a “public lands” hunting photograph on very private land owned by someone from out of state?

I’m not sure I’ve ever met anyone gullible enough to trust Matt Rosendale to protect public lands.

While Rosendale is just lying, Senator Steve Daines is taking a darker, xenophobic approach, running an ad blaming China for the COVID-19 outbreak.

While one can certainly criticize the response of the Chinese government, I’m not sure that Steve Daines is the person to do it. I’m fairly certain that the Chinese Communist Party was reprehensible back in 2017 when Daines “compromised American values and helped perpetuate the suffering of innocent people abroad” when he abetted the Chinese effort to undermine the Tibetan independence movement and silence criticism of the oppressive government of China and when he helped block renaming the street in front of the Chinese embassy after a prominent dissident who died in Chinese custody.

I’m also pretty sure that the Chinese government was “reprehensible” in 2019 when prominent conservatives accused Daines of undermining the President’s trade agenda in China after taking a visit there.

And I’m pretty sure that the Chinese government was “reprehensible in the 1990s when Daines was working there for Procter and Gamble between 1991-1997 just as the company was massively expanding its operations there while cutting jobs in the United States.

There are a lot of people in American political life well-positioned to criticize the Chinese government, but someone who made his corporate career there, downplayed the ongoing atrocities against the Tibetan people, and who let the Chinese government use him for propaganda like Steve Daines has surely isn’t one of those people.

More important, though, is the simple fact that Daines’s xenophobic pandering ignores his real job. As a US Senator, shouldn’t he be demanding answers from the Trump Administration, who knew in January that COVID-19 could kill two million Americans and did nothing?

Any—and all—of those would be appropriate actions for a United States Senator to undertake, but for Steve Daines, the most junior member of the Senate in Montana history, the COVID-19 crisis isn’t about saving lives or demanding accountability from the incompetent, dangerous, and corrupt Trump Administration. It’s about scoring cheap, xenophobic political points, even if that means pretending to attack a country Daines has offered support to his entire career.

Moral rot. Cowardice. Craven deference to autocrats. Those are the sicknesses that should concern Steve Daines, given his abrogation of responsibility when it comes to looking for the people of Montana.

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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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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