Ax Max?

by Pete Talbot

Montana’s Sen. Max Baucus isn’t all bad. He’s pro-choice, advanced good legislation on the Rocky Mountain Front and secured funding for the housing, education and medical needs of Montanans. He’s also been instrumental in helping many good Democrats get elected to office in our state.

So it is with some trepidation that I’ll be attending the Ax Max Campaign being presented in Missoula by Progressive Democrats of America. After all, “Ax Max” was the rallying cry of conservatives trying to unseat Max in his numerous, successful bids for the U.S. Senate. And compared to our Congressman Denny Rehberg, Max is a hardcore left-winger (but that isn’t setting the bar very high).

Now I’ve been a very vocal critic of our senior Senator. IMHO, he botched health care reform. He voted for W.’s tax cuts and an abysmal bankruptcy bill. He’s one of the top recipients of insurance, pharmaceutical and finance industry dollars. He … well, most of you readers know the list so I won’t repeat it here.

If he runs again in 2014, I’d love to see a strong primary opponent.

My friends on the left are going to say I’m being namby-pamby for failing to aggressively pursue the Ax Max Campaign. (I haven’t made up my mind, yet.)

My more centrist friends are going to accuse me of colluding with Republicans by giving them ammunition to attack the Senator.  After all, they’ll say, we could do worse than Max.

Be that as it may, here’s the info:

5-8 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 28, Missoula City-County Library, 301 E. Main St.

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  1. problembear

    Best thing to do with max is ambush him in 2013 with a strong independent.

    But after health fail 2010 I expect he will retire in ignominity and dissolve into the mediore mist that spawned him.

    Sounds like a Silly waste of time.max will simply laugh at these folks.

  2. I don’t think that’s quite fair, pbear. It isn’t that Max is mediocre so much as it is that he thought too much of what he could accomplish. He sees himself on par with Mansfield, and sought to do everything with the HCR bill the Senate Finance committee passed. He wanted to be the bi-partisan hero. But Mansfield was the Senate Majority leader, and Max is not. Mansfield had to wrangle Republicants that didn’t worship the mantra of “no”, and Mansfield didn’t have to deal with the current economic climate. I’m not excusing Baucus; far from it. Max saw his role and importance in it, poorly. He wasn’t mediocre half as much as naive and willing to serve a failed idea of ‘getting along’.

    Now I’m certain that some will come poncing in here to say that Max is a wholly purchased and programmed robot of his campaign contributors. Seriously, does anyone believe that humans are that simple? Baucus has failed; of that there is no doubt. But it wasn’t some invisible hand pulling his strings, nor was it that he is a moron or automaton. He appears wedded to an antiquated idea of what it means to be a “leader”.

    • problembear

      Something a coach taught me a long time ago when I was lineman. There is no excuse for can’t. If you accept the position, then execute the play…

      Max lost this the day he was born. Some catch the pass in the end zone on fourth down. Most can’t.

      Max is a mediocre player. And there are far too many of those these days.

      • problembear

        before the S.O. chimes in with an e-mail to me about mixing my metaphors let me edit the above to ….

        … some centers can hike the ball and protect their quarterback. max folded and allowed the republicants to sack his quarterback and recover a fumble.

        max did more good for the opposition than he can ever imagine with his skill-less, ham-handed and ill-advised scuttling of this bill from the start. almost single-handedly, max is responsible for bringing a demoralized and defeated republicant party back from the brink to once again challenge for majority of the house and senate.

        whether obama is in trouble in 2012 remains to be seen, but baucus has certainly played a part in making reelection much more competitive than it needed to be.

        i think calling baucus mediocre is much too fair- history will most likely judge him as one of the worst strategic politicians of all time.

    • Here’s the funny part:

      Mansfield was regarded as LBJ’s rubber stamp. Lyndon forced the senate to put Mike in the leadership position because he was so weak and malleable.

      I distinctly remember listening to the LBJ tapes one day as I drove the highway to Bozeman. Lyndon has a conversation with Mike, and after hanging up says something to the effect that “the man has no spine at all.”

      Anyway, it is because of your inability to understand the nature of humans that you don’t understand politics or Max. The CEO of Wellpoint cannot simply decide one day to man up and stop rejecting people with preexisting conditions. He does not control what is under him so much as what is under him dictates his behavior. If he were to do as I said, he would be fired.

      In the same manner, if Max did not behave as he does, he would indeed face a strong primary challenge and a well-funded Republican opponent. Max is the product of natural selection where weak men are put in power and kept there by people more powerful.

      Thus endeth the lesson.

      • JC

        LBJ got things done, and that with his handling of Mansfield, the nation accomplished much legislative goodness.

        The lesson to be learned here is that if Obama were more like LBJ, enacting his agenda would be much simpler, and far more successful.

        Harry Reid, while spineless, has the ability to get the job done, if he is given no other alternatives. Unfortunately, Obama has deferred to the “wisdom” of his elders in his former chamber, and has left them wandering in the wilderness.

        • Mark once again spectacularly misses the point, because he’s too interested in ragging on me for shit that spontaneously appears in his head. It doesn’t matter what Mansfield was, but what Max thinks of that role in the current environment.

          The lesson to be learned here is that if Obama were more like LBJ, enacting his agenda would be much simpler, and far more successful.

          A Texas bully centrist, favored even by his Republican ‘opposition’ because he gave them an escalation of the war against communism? Well, if we had a time machine …

          That’s my problem with “if” scenarios, JC. Obama can’t be like LBJ. He’s from Illinois via Hawaii, he’s black, he’s not a hallmark of capitalist wealth, and he isn’t serving the needs of those who want a holy war against ~fill in blank, but Muslims will do for now~. And kindly remember that LBJ gave way to Richard Nixon, based almost exclusively on Democratic dissatisfaction with their candidate, and with the rather pivotal change of the “Southern strategy”. LBJ got things done because it was a different country then. I’m sure you wouldn’t prefer more ‘Gulf of Tonkin’ or 9-11 to boost Obama’s ability to “get things done”.

          Harry Reid is toast, you know that and I know that. That would be in large part because he can’t get things done, even when cornered.

          • Bush got things done. Anyone who wanted to could take the numbers Democrats have and get things done.

          • Bush got things done.

            No shit, dumbass. I think I pointed that out. Do you have a point to make?

            Anyone who wanted to could take the numbers Democrats have and get things done.

            Prove it, asstard. What are the numbers of which you speak? 10%+ unemployment? 40 Republicants +LIEberman in the Senate? 10+ Trillion in debt? Show me anyone else who ‘got things done’ under those circumstances or shut the fuck up with your conspiracy theories. I’m tired of you stalking me all over the intertubes with your wild fantasies of what I’ve said or what I think or what I believe. I’ve already shown you to be a moron once this past week. How many more times do I need to do that before you just piss off?

          • JC

            Maybe it would be clearer to say that if Obama could look to LBJ for some inspiration, instead of Reagan, he would be more successful.

            I don’t think anyone of us wants LBJ in office, for precisely the bad points he had.

            But LBJ honed well his legislative skills after 12 years in the Senate, including being Majority leader, and 12 years in the House. And he put them to good use.

            I still think LBJ would have had Harry Reid fetching him coffee and milquetoast (“No, I said get me some “coffee”, milquetoast”).

          • Though I’m likely going to take some heat from the stalker for writing this, I think that’s what Obama started last week (on Thursday). Meeting with the House Reps in front of cameras, was an unprecedented move. He showed clearly, based on public reaction, that being the party of NO is not politically or socially viable.

            If there is anything that depresses me about this, it is that he still has to corral the Senate.

          • JC

            I’d like to see him repeat his performance in the Senate. With both dems and reps, separately. That would be illuminating, to say the least.

          • problembear

            maybe obama and the senate just need to smoke a little weed with willie…

        • Wulfgar – if I quoted Max here, would it begin to sink in a bit? “In politics, perceptions are reality.”

          That’s a little abstract for you in that it can’t be put in the form of a syllogism for a simple linear thinker, so I’ll translate:

          In politics, they make things appear to be a certain way, when they are really another way. They are really, really clever negotiators.

          JC – I do not believe that scenario, I do not believe that Harry Reid is weak or that Obama, who now openly admits to belonging to the DLC, shares your agenda. His job is to contain that agenda. He, like both parties, sits far to the right of the American public.

          It’s a matter of managing your perceptions.

          • Blah blah blah, Mark. Once again, you find yourself having a conversation with yourself because you’re too fucking stupid to discern between what another is saying and what you want to believe they said. You are delusional. Seek help.

          • I think I hit on it – you are a linear thinker – you can’t fathom misdirection. You’re losing it too. This is rather enjoyable.

          • Go ahead and giggle in your padded room, asshole.

          • JC

            I can manage my perceptions by myself, thank you very much, mark.

            Someday in the future, someone will write a book about the Senate, and its Majority leaders. I look forward to the comparison between Reid and LBJ. Reid is a caretaker Majority leader. A simple manager. LBJ succeeded because he got things done. Reid looks for the path of least resistance to his next reelection.

            You can make conspiracy talk all you want about “the fix,” but that doesn’t allow us to deal with the politics at the surface. Politics has always been about the fix. That’s not news to many of us. And it doesn’t stop us from following politics or commenting on it. If I started to think and write about politics like you do, I’d probably burn my computer and go live in the woods without a tv, newspaper or radio, because I’d go stark raving mad otherwise.

            As to agendas, I have many. Not all of them political. As to my political agenda, I think there is more overlap with say, Obama’s than McCain’s. I have no illusions about the depth of Obama’s political agenda, and where it goes. I think he is a good man with good intentions, unlike his predecessor. But good intentions does not a good leader make.

            But what I do know, is that when you speak about my, or any others’ agendas here, you are really looking at our motivations for saying and doing the things we do.

            And I always have said that trying to second guess my, or anyone else’s motivations is misguided and will lead you into false conclusions.

          • JC: This had better not be what I think it is – you had better not be saying that we should not be second-guessing the motivations of a politician. If you are, then I am like a doctor who opened up a patient and found massive cancer – there’s nothing I can do but sew yo back up and talk to you about the quality of your remaining days. You are beyond hope.

            Remember, and this is key and critical: While you vote for him, someone else finances him.

            But if I have to explain that, well, think about traveling, seeing your grand kids, getting your will up to date. You know, quality of life.

            Wulfgar, I am not stalking you. I am responding to your stupidity. You are a man who thinks that the complexities of politics can be reduced to syllogism. Did no one explain to you that politics is not a linear process? It is complex, like chess. Max is not the best chess player. Obama is quite good, something you might want to think about as you drool all over him for talking tough to Congressman. Maybe they weren’t the object of the peformance. Maybe it was intended for you.

            But that’s complex, you know, like perception management – people don’t really ever think beyond simple ideas in politics. They just tell you what they want to accomplice and how they want to do it, and you comment on it and they listen to you. They never game you. Idiot.

            Wanna play poker some time? Obama is a good poker player, I am told. I really want to play with you guys! For money.

            But I remember when I first got involved in Democratic politics in the early nineties. I very quickly figured out that Max was disingenuous, and noticed that his followers were very loyal to him naive. The loyalty was easy to figure out – the ones I met were bugs around the porch light. Then I tried to figure out his motivations. That’s a little more complex, but I concluded this, and have seen nothing to make me think it is wrong:

            He is surviving. He’s not strong enough to lead. He can’t fight the money people- they will easily destroy him in state like this. SO he gave in, and works for them and with them. He has rationalized all of his cowardice down to the point where he believes he is doing good – its kind of like the Stockholm Syndrome.

            If I explain anymore to you guys, it will stop being fun for you. Just remember, Obama’s stint before the Congress could have been a perception device, probably was. After all, behind the scenes, he has worked with the Blue Dog and false flag Democrats, and that he is a member of the DLC, and that politics is perception management. And that after he left Congress that day, nothing had changed but your perceptions.

            Thus endeth the lesson. Again.

  3. Big Swede

    Ya left out the link to paypal, Pete.

  4. petetalbot

    As I said, Swede, I’m still forming an opinion about this Ax Max campaign. I’ll have keener insights after tomorrow night’s meeting.

  5. Lizard

    does it really matter, one way or the other? will axing max create jobs in our state? will it reverse the frenzy of bipartisan deregulation of the past 30 years? will it “send a message to washington”? or will it reinforce the illusion that we live in a participatory democracy?

    personally, i don’t think it matters, one way or the other. we still have a unitary executive flouting the constitution and a fiat currency manipulated by the fed. we have a military fighting illegal wars on behalf of corporations alongside privatized mercenaries fucking shit up wherever they go. and we have civil liberties disappearing faster than ice caps and a police state ready to roll out when the serfs get restless.

    opinions about max and the job he’s done in washington are about as meaningless as the words that will come out of obama’s mouth tonight. i hope i’m wrong. i fear i’m not.

    • JC

      Mmmm… I think that the crux of Ax Max isn’t so much our opinions of him, and what he’s done. It’s that when you have ineffectual politicians sitting in Congress, there’s no possibility of change.

      Dump a sitting pol, and you create an opening. Hopefully for someone along the lines of a Lee Metcalf, Mike Mansfield, or a Jeanette Rankin. Politicians with integrity.

      Accept that some politicians think they own the seat, and don’t need to be accountable to their constituents (and this defines Max perfectly), and you have a recipe for the disaster–which defines the Congress we have.

      • Lizard

        JC, i alway appreciate your perspective, and i know creating openings for that once-in-awhile pol with integrity could shift things, change things a little bit, and that that is how this ineffectual, failing system of ours may get fixed.

        but right now, this evening, as i prepare myself to endure another speech, i can’t muster anything positive. i’m tired of being lied to by my elected leaders. i’m tired of getting my hopes up, only to have them obliterated like a some village blown to pieces by remote control drones.

        until we face the uncomfortable reality that we are a country of addicts consuming ourselves into oblivion, nothing will ever change. max is just an extension of that reality, not an aberration. and now the shock doctrine is coming home, with all the predictable austerity measures that have been imposed on developing nations (obama is calling it a spending freeze).

        at least we still make some great entertainment to keep ourselves distracted as rome burns, right?

        • JC

          “at least we still make some great entertainment to keep ourselves distracted as rome burns, right?”

          Talking about the SOTU, right? :-0

  6. Max isn’t going to run. He’ll be 72. I keep saying this. He’ll either sail off into the world of lobbying, just like old Conrad, or he’ll move back to Montana.

    My money is on him staying in D.C., what with the new girlfriend and all.

    • JC

      I think his approval rating are going to be so bad, that by the time campaigning time comes, he’s going to look at the uphill battle he’d have to fight–probably the hardest of his career–and conveniently decide to retire.

      • It depends on a well-financed opponent and not publc opinion.In a state like this senate seats are bought with TV ads. If Max continues to perform well, the money will be there and he will run again and win, and jhwygirl will vote for him as he will appear to be better than the Republican opponent.

        • You don’t know me. We’ve never even met, yet alone shared a private email.

          Do not speak for me.

          You are in my home. Be respectful or don’t come back.

          • petetalbot

            No one is going to appoint Mark to the diplomatic corps. I, however, appreciate his comments, as misguided as they sometimes are.

            But Mark, I do know jhwygirl and imagine she’d vote for a decent primary candidate instead of Max, if it ever came to that, and I hope it does. I’m betting a lot of people would. And I’d hold my nose and vote for Max in the general as opposed to, say, a Denny Rehberg. And if you wouldn’t do the same, then you’re an ass.

          • Mark t

            I may not know you but I know democrats and feel safe in speculating.

          • Mark t

            Pete: our problem is just that: in the end we are only given that choice – Denny or Max. The game is rigged.

          • Mark – if you’re such an expert in everything that is – especially, as it seems, in politics and government – why don’t you run?

          • Mark t

            If I were you at this point I would fold. You got nuthin’.

          • That’s rich.

            Pot. Kettle. Black.

  7. Chuck

    Is the Ax Max effort only for you libs or can a moderate kinda guy join the party?

  8. petetalbot

    You could be right, jhwygirl, about Max not running again, and for sure about him staying in D.C. However, 72 isn’t that old for a Senator — Strom Thurmond, Robert Byrd, Jocelyn Burdick — all served or are serving into their 90s.

  9. Chuck

    Couldn’t agree with her more but the folks just can’t kick the earmark habit.
    http://www.counterpunch.org/kidder12072009.html

  10. I think Pete, if I may be so bold as to reword your post, that you are saying that even though Max is pretty bad, he’s not as bad as Republicans, and we should therefore settle.

    Isn’t that the role of Democrats? To teach us to live in a drearily submissiveness? Max doesn’t need a primary challenge. Incumbents are only rarely unseated that way, and party faithful invariably lash out at primary challengers. Max needs a rebellious party that doesn’t put up with his shit. Unfortunately, all we have are Democrats.

    We are only allowed two parties: One that advances right wing change, and one that covers the other’s ass. We cannot affect meaningful reform that way. Our only hope is community organizing outside the parties.

    It not only works – it’s the only thing that has ever worked.

  1. 1 Perception Management 101 « Piece Of Mind

    […] started out with a post by Pete Talbot: Now I’ve been a very vocal critic of our senior Senator. IMHO, he botched health care reform. He […]




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