To answer Anne Laurie’s question about my views towards Max Baucus, there’s a difference between holding one’s nose in order to tolerate a blue dog like Stephanie Herseth, and putting up with a larcenous, obstructionist, prima donna like Baucus. Good riddance to the egotistical fool who almost killed and certainly impeded Obamacare, to the money grubber who launched a hundred K street consultants, and to the “Democrat” whose voting record was almost indistinguishable from a Republican in far more areas than was necessary to win a state that has a few more Democrats than the Dakotas, Wyoming and Idaho.
The other nice piece of news is that Baucus’ retirement opens the way for Brian Schweitzer. Schweitzer is an interesting study in the strategy that all the northern prairie and mountain state Democrats use to get elected and stay in office, which is to get voters to tolerate a liberal by bringing home the bacon, and lots of it, and adopting Republican positions on the real hot-buttons. As governor, Schweitzer fought hard to use Montana’s coal resources (bacon), he criticized GM when they stopped buying precious metals mined in Montana (more bacon), and he out gun-nutted the gun nuts (hot button). To balance that out, he also was a major proponent of wind energy, has a great record on education, and supports single-payer healthcare.
Schweitzer is a bit of a progressive darling because of his single-payer position, which isn’t as big a push as you might think. First, the Republican base is energized to hate Obamacare, and single-payer isn’t that, so the great irony is that the more liberal position actually deflects a lot of the criticism that is thrown up about Obamacare. Second, “single-payer” is a term that shows that Democrats are so terrible at political branding that if they were giving away gold they’d call it “shit” — the obvious and far better brand is “Medicare for all”.
Like all mavericky types, Schweitzer has a bit of the foot-in-mouth disease. Calling Mitt Romney’s Mexican ancestors members of a “polygamy commune” was funny, but there are a lot of Mormons in Montana and a (very) few might vote for him. Schweitzer’s great blessing is that Denny Rehberg, his probable opponent, already lost to Tester and is a dumbass. After Schweitzer is elected and votes a few times for Montana interests, he won’t be addressing Netroots Nation and Kos won’t want to have his love child, but he’ll be about as good a Democrat as we could ever expect coming from that part of the world.