Burns fading fast: the Butte debate

You’ve read what I wrote at the debate, and might have already heard or seen the debate on the radio or television. (If you haven’t, it’s still not too late.) So unless you live under a rock – and you don’t if you’re reading this – you know that Tester spanked Burns in Butte. Even the newspaper reporters couldn’t help let snark creep into their tone when reporting on the debate:

“He wants to weaken the Patriot Act,” he said of Tester.

Tester sought to clarify:

“I don’t want to weaken the Patriot Act, I want to repeal it. What it does, it takes away your freedom … and when you take away our freedoms, the terrorists have won,” Tester said.

He came back to the subject near the end of the debate, when Burns tried to link him to New York Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer, who is, Burns said, pro-gun-control.

“With things like the Patriot Act,” Tester said, “We’d damn well better keep our guns.”

So forget about debate impressions. Tester came out looking like an independent-minded Westerner to Burns’…well, actually, that’s what I wanted to talk about. Burns.

I’ve heard this around town, from Republican supporters of Burns at the various debates. He just doesn’t look or act the same. He’s…I dunno…meaner? More out of control?

On stage at Hamilton and Butte, a number of times Burns looked lost. Fumbling for words, repeating the same talking points over and over again. Getting in-your-face negative with Tester, stalking the stage and pointing fingers.

After all, every Burns debate appearance has been run as if it were a national campaign. He’s heavily made up on stage, he stands for the camera, even his statements are tailor-made for television sound bites. Political suicide. This is Montana. Your neighbor’s word of mouth still means something here. The talk across the backyard fence (barbwire, in many cases) still means more than a slick politician’s sound bite. That Burns doesn’t get this should be yet another reason to send him away.

And that attitude permeates his whole campaign, the attack ads, the ridiculous statements from his campaign staff, the removed-from-reality delusions of his on-line supporters. The continued speaking gaffes and ethical improprieties even as he’s lambasted about his small-mindedness and Abramoff. It all adds up to a disturbing portrait of a man out of control.

But why? I’ve heard people suggest he’s going senile. Could be. Or it could be his heart’s not in it, he’s just letting loose, acting like his true self. Mean-spirited, disinterested by his constituency and electioneering. Or maybe the Abramoff scandal is getting too close, and he’s losing it. Getting desperate. Maybe he feels unfairly singled out – after all everybody’s on the dole in DC! That’s the way it works!

But that’s not the way it should work, Senator, and if you don’t understand the difference it’s time you were sent home to Missouri and fitted out for an orange jumpsuit.

The only time he lit up during the debate was when he was describing the myriad of interests surrounding him. (“They were lobbying me. I loved it!”) And they way he describes the appropriations for Montana, saying it’s his money he’s doling out for the state, they’re his hospitals and his labratories, his this and that, like the federal budget is his personal checking account, and the buildings erected by the dint of his personal labor.

On a similar note, wasn’t it amazing the chutzpah of Resondyn and the Burns camp to try to get away with packing the front stage seats with Burns’ supporters? Little did I know that a quick comment during the live blogging at Butte would end up as a blogswarm.

If you haven’t already, check out the details. They’re quite sickening. Shane ran with my comment and looked up the donations made by the company and its executives to Burns’ campaign and the Montana GOP. To the tune of some $30K in the last ten months. Big Sky Dems was there; relates an anecdote whereby a couple of undecided voters were booted for refusing to wear Conrad Burns stickers while sitting in the Resondyn section. Matt ran with these facts, and realized that Resondyn’s support of the debate and a Burns section likely runs counter to state election laws. Pogie sticks it to Lee Enterprises, who has the nerve to criticize raucous crowd behavior, but knowingly co-sponsored an event with an ardent Burns supporter, thus abetted their illegal activity. State newspapers have thus far failed to say “boo” on the subject.

My question: who gets to bring up charges against the Burns campaign and/or Resondyn? Should this at least warrant an investigation?

The real story is, of course, the fact that Burns is still playing the lobbyist game…this time in full view of the public. He scratched Resondyn’s back with some appropriations, Resondyn scratches his back by paying an undisclosed sum of money to, in effect, reserve a bunch of prominent seats so it looks like Burns actually has supporters in Butte.


Had enough?

Update: Missoula Justin does the legwork and has figured out how to file a complaint for the Resondyn/Burns Butte alliance!

  1. 1 MISSOULA dot NET » Blog Archive » Conrad Burns, Resodyn and how to file formal complaints against them

    […] Touchstone recently brought up the question: who gets to bring up charges against the Burns campaign and/or Resondyn? Should this at least warrant an investigation? […]

  2. 2 MISSOULA dot NET » Blog Archive » Burns/Tester Butte debate coverage roundup

    […] Burns fading fast: the Butte debate +++ […]

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