Archive for June 26th, 2006

By the way, Intelligent Discontent has been amazing in covering the Burns-Tester debate. In fact, I’d argue too amazing.

That is, I didn’t see Pogie’s three “Fact check” posts until now, because they were buried under additional commentary. I had planned on doing some of this stuff, but Pogie not only beat me to it, but did a better job on it than I ever could.

So, for the two people that don’t regularly visit Intelligent Discontent, you can read Burns’ misstatements in three posts, Fact Check on Conrad Burns part 1, part 2, and part 3.

You can tell a candidate is poorly prepared for a debate when you need three separate posts to show all his errors.

Pogie neglected one area of Burns-ian misstatements, though, and that’s on illegal immigration. While Burns came down firmly against amnesty, as did Tester, the junior Senator implied that Tester gravitated towards his position. Oh, dear GOP readers, were it only so!

Luckily for me, Matt Singer has already written a post about the multitude of positions that Senator Burns has held on the issue. In March, he was in favor of amnesty for undocumented workers. Then again in his infamous Marianas Islands vote, he opposed tougher border control.

Tester, on the other hand, has as far as I know always opposed amnesty for undocumented workers.

(Please note that 4&20 blackbirds favors amnesty. Just because I’m voting for Tester – and urging everyone else to do so – doesn’t mean I agree with all of his views. But he’s honest, and I trust him to do the right thing. So…I’ll give up amnesty. Although I still think it’s inevitable.)

Update: Now you can find all the misstatements in one handy post over at Intelligent Discontent!

Thinking more about Tester’s comment that Burns is spending like “a drunken sailor”…That comment really sticks, doesn’t it? Not just because it’s…well…accurate for the particular issue – Burns’ habit of stocking bills with fat appropriations earmarks – but it also touches on something about Burns that nagged at me the entire debate.

Burns acts like an addict.

His addiction isn’t women, drugs, or alcohol. His addiction is ethical impropriety. He’s a bribe-aholic.

The endless back-scratching and quid-pro-quoing Burns has done for the past 18 years has altered him (assuming it wasn’t part of his nature to begin with). It’s his world, it’s his universe. You see it in his campaign claims, his body language, his statements, especially during the recent debate. Burns’ campaign is all about justifying his habits and drawing you into sharing his addiction.

First, there’s the talking point Burns has been using since Day One: that he’s the man bringin’ home the pork for Montana. You can see this strategy at play on his campaign website under the link, “accomplishments.” Once you click the link, you’re taken to a page entitled, “What Conrad Burns Means To You!” (The exclamation point turning a simple statement into an in-your-face shout.) The page features an interactive map of the state: click on your county and find the pork Burns doled on your hometown.

What this is, of course, is a tacit confession that he’s dirty. He avoids discussing his votes on Iraq, health care, and contributions to the national debt. He avoids the accusations of his dealing with Abramoff. He avoids discussing the topics that actually mean something to Montana voters. Instead, he gives us this list, this sordid laundry list of all the favors he’s done for you, dear voter.

And he’s asking for your vote in return. As if we owe him.

In this rhetoric, we see classic signs of the addict. The justification of his behavior. “I’m doing it for you.” The attempt to draw us into his behavior. “You owe me.” And by voting for him, you’re not only approving of his behavior, you’re participating. You’re giving him the green light to pursue “business as usual,” which means making “deals” with lobbyists, voting against labor rights and increased border security, for example, on a group of Pacific Islands or diverting federal grants to groups that don’t really need them, in exchange for a little campaign money and fat-laden appropriations for Montana.

That rhetoric appeared again in Burns' closing statements during yesterday's debate.

During the debate, too, you could see the outrage in Burns when he was challenged by Tester on issues, like border security. What an outrage! How dare he challenge me! And even in campaign commericials that high-pitched outrage creeps into his voice: the man won't even consider his fallibility. He's so locked into his world view, one slip outside and blam! He's a goner. In other words, he can't challenge or question his own behavior. The only way Burns wins this race is if he admits to being swayed by lobbyists — maybe saying that DC is a crazy, corrupt place and he only wanted what was best for Montana — and throwing himself on the mercy of the state's voters. Don't hold your breath. Admitting that means admitting to himself that he's flawed.

(Even DeLay, who resigned under controversey and tacitly admitted he's guilty as sin, has a defiant attitude that says it's not him that's corrupt, it's those pesky rules hemming his greatness in that are corrupt.)

If you, like me, believe legislators are supposed to be honest and competent, you’ll be sickened by Burns’ campaign tactics. If you, like me, want someone in office who’ll not only fulfill his duties to the state, but also will seek to protect the Constitution, make our borders safer, stand up to the President on Iraq, work towards energy independence, and balance the budget, then you’ll vote for Jon Tester.


Pogie Jason finds some reactions to the Senate debate from around the ‘Net. My fave: “Conrad Burns debates like my mom.” Pogie found video of the debate.

Joe Klein was at the debate? So…who exactly got to attend the debate?

Jeff Mangan on Net Neutrality.

The Slog and The New Republic on Net Neutrality.

California’s Contra Costa Times shocked — shocked — that Montana Democrats oppose gun control.

The Existentialist Cowboy notes there is no course to stay in Iraq.

SCOTUS to consider if the Bush administration must regulate carbon emissions. Best quote of the story: “’Fundamentally, we don't think carbon dioxide is a pollutant, and so we don't think these attempts are a good idea,’ said John Felmy, chief economist of the American Petroleum Institute…”

In other news, global warming is actually worse than we thought.

Surprise! The GOP isn’t interested in lobbying reform!

Feds busted a would-be terror group in Miami, more pathetic than dangerous, but lets real Florida-based terrorists go unmolested.

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