The Brian Schweitzer Show

by lizard

Brian Schweitzer has good populist instincts for a politician, something on full display in a recent interview with Slate’s David Weigel, an interview where Brian Schweitzer says he doesn’t trust politicians. Agreed, Brian.

If it wasn’t for the distrust, I’d say there’s some good stuff in this interview. There’s also some tells about the continuing feud between Schweitzer and Tester:

Democrats inside and outside of Montana loved Schweitzer. The liberal “netroots” held him up as a model for other candidates, a bolo-tied Neo who’d cracked the culture-war code. Schweitzer gave a rolling, mocking speech at the 2008 Democratic National Convention that won more praise than the official keynote address. He won re-election with a vote margin that he can recite from memory.

“Sixty-five-point-six percent,” says Schweitzer, talking on the phone this weekend before heading to Washington to appear on ABC’s This Week. “Sen. Jon Tester won re-election [in 2012] and didn’t get 50 percent of the vote. I didn’t have that problem. … If I wanted to be in the Senate, there was a pretty clear path to get there.”

The path Schweitzer abandoned was far from clear. JC wrote a damn good post speculating why, titled Of Judges, Tycoons, Lawyers and Politicians: the Undoing of Brian Schweitzer and the Yellowstone Club? (one of 4&20’s most-read posts of 2013).

After taking his little jab at Tester, the interview moves to clemency for Edward Snowden, which Schweitzer supports. From there Weigel steers toward foreign policy, where Schweitzer has some actual first-hand knowledge from his time spent in Libya and Saudi Arabia. In a populist challenge to the coronation of Hillary Clinton, her vote for the Iraq war will continue to make her a ripe target. It worked for Obama, right?

Weigel moves from discussing the religious nuances and unforeseen consequences of the Iraq invasion (and how it relates to Iran) to America’s longest war, Afghanistan. Here’s the exchange:

DW: There isn’t any danger in letting the Taliban take over the country?

BS: Take over what? This is the biggest joke in the whole world. What you do when you go to war is destroy enough of the other side’s infrastructure, and demonstrate you can destroy even more, that they decide they can’t keep it up or they’ll have nothing left. But to the extent that people in Afghanistan have anything, it’s been built by us. They live in stone houses. They have no infrastructure. What the Russians put there and what we’ve put there are the only things of any value. Oh, apart from the poppies they’re growing.

DW: I suppose the question is whether we should worry about blowback, years later, after leaving the country.

BS: If it all goes to hell in a handbasket, that’s fine. That happened after Alexander the Great left; that happened after the Russians left. Who cares? They live in the Stone Age. If you ask generals whether we should stay in a war a little longer, that’s like asking a barber whether you need a haircut.

Yeah, who cares, right? I mean, these fucking heathens used to poke their stone-age sticks in the dirt and grunt like neanderthals all day before the glorious development of invader infrastructure.

I do give Schweitzer credit for not being clueless about the geopolitics of the Middle East. I mean, he speaks arabic, and I especially appreciate his dropping of the Oh, apart from the poppies dig, because it creates a nice little space for Weigel to wiggle a weed segue in, albeit with no teeth:

DW: You mentioned poppies, which is as good of a segue I can think of to what’s happening in Colorado. Do you think that state’s made the right move in legalizing marijuana? Should the rest of the country go that way?

BS: Well, here’s what I can say. Each society has to make choices about what’s against the law. You have a large percentage of the population that’s already using this. The war on drugs is another war that appears to have been lost. This experiment with prohibition of marijuana doesn’t seem have to been working. Colorado might have it more right than the rest of us.

DW: One reason I ask is that when you ran in 2004, when you won the governor’s race, there were gay marriage and marijuana issues on the ballot, and Republicans thought they’d set “family values” traps for you.

BS: Oh, yeah, name these Republicans. The ones cheating on their third wives while they’re talking about traditional family values? Those ones?

Blam, Weigel got out-wiggled with a colorful BS deflection. Good stuff. He could have pressed Schweitzer on a moment when he didn’t use a cattle brand on the Capitol steps. In fact, he didn’t even use a pen:

Gov. Brian Schweitzer said Friday that he will let a controversial medical marijuana bill take law without his signature.

He made it clear that he’s not wild about the bill but said he can’t support the status quo. Earlier in the session, Schweitzer vetoed a bill calling for an outright repeal of Montana’s medical marijuana law.

“So I will hold my nose and allow this to be law until the Legislature gets back to session (in 2013),” he said. “I’m not going to sign it.”

Schweitzer announced his plans for the bill at a late-afternoon press conference.

As a result, Senate Bill 423 will become law. It repeals Montana’s 2004 voter-passed law that allows some people to use marijuana for certain medical reasons.

Instead, SB423 puts into place a much tougher law with stricter regulations on the business and is intended to make it much harder for people claiming “severe chronic pain” to get medical marijuana cards. Bill supporters have said that will help close a big loophole that has allowed many people claiming severe and chronic pain to obtain cards now.

I just recently watched Code of the West. I don’t know why it took me so long to finally watch it, but I’m glad I did.

And I can understand why Schweitzer would rather talk about Republicans bonking mistresses.

What I’m having trouble understanding is the conclusion of this interview. It’s basically a specific question about the neoliberal wealth sucking dream team’s continued reign, to which Schweitzer responds by riding some weird Fleetwood Mac baby king we’re not England analogy. Judge for yourself:

DW: And how did Bill Clinton rank? Do you have any worries about the economic team than ran the place at the end of the ’90s, for example—about them coming back?

BS: Clinton had a very good run. It was eight years of peace and prosperity. But do you recall what the music was, blaring, after they were elected?

DW: It was “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow.”

BS: Right. Fleetwood Mac, “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow.” So what do we play next time? The Beatles, “Yesterday”? In England, a baby’s born and they know he’ll grow up to be king someday. We’re not England. We’re America.

Maybe someone doesn’t want to  ruffle all the feathers of the Clinton apparatus.  After all, the presidency price-tag is over a billion dollars to bag.


  1. mike

    Like the bullshit detector liz , but patting self important twits like this on the back sorta, kinda dance you dance. Dudes an idiot, admit it move on ,call out where Big Gov is looking to obtain more shit over us. You seem to think it’s ok if TOP MEN that share your POV are less evil than TOP MEN that disagree with you. The difference tween you and and I is that you sanction behavior by statsist fucks if they fit your agenda, I I despise team red fucks as well as your teams fucks. I’m an equal opportunity hater of statist fucks, so don’t take it personally

    • lizard19

      very eloquent.

  2. Abe Froman

    Id give a couple bucks to be a fly on the wall on some of the insider meetings among the Tester, Baucus & Gov BS camps to know what all the intra squad beef is really about.

  3. John Vincent

    I got thumped by BS in the 2004 Democratic primary for governor. Probably don’t remember, and for good reason.

    BS is a masterful politician, but, of course, that means never taking a chance or a firm position on a truly controversial issue.
    If you remember one, please post. Brian is no “Profile in Courage.”

    At a televised Helena debate that included candidates for governor from both parties (Brian and I were the only two Democrats running) the last question was, “Do you favor
    civil unions, yes or no?” Brian answered “no.” I answered “yes.”

    BS vetoed some crazy right wing stuff. But he also allowed a number of controversial bills become law without his signature.

    Brian knows exactly what he’s doing, but I ‘m guessing he’ll get undressed some on the national stage.

    John Vincent

    • lizard19

      thank you for sharing your perspective, John.

  4. People here love Schweitzer, and talk like that only makes him more appealing.

    I think most of the anger directed at him is mainly from people who wish they could do what he seemingly does so well and effortlessly.

    Just cut right through the shit when you talk to people, talk like a small town sheriff, offend them – don’t kiss their ass. No one likes a brown-noser or teacher’s pet, yet that’s what a lot of politicians are.

    Don’t kiss my baby – help me make a fucking living.

    • Steve W

      Brian always goes for the foreign menace angle whether it’s unfriendly foreign oil governments or it’s running out on Afghanistan, Brian is quick to point out the failings of the foreign boogie man.

      He refused to stand up for Montana hemp nor did he stand up for what the people passed as regards medical cannabis.

      I’m not as impressed as you are I guess.

      • lizard19

        I’m not impressed either. did that not come through in this post?

        • Steve W

          It did Liz, but I was replying to Greg i thought. He (Greg) seemed to think Brian S was OK. since he didn’t kiss ass. I was reiterating and expanding a little on some of your points.

          • I like Brian Schweitzer. But then I wasn’t here from 2008 to 2012 to see what he did then. The guy’s not perfect but he’s better than a lot out there, and I agree with a lot of those talking points listed above.

            Problem is he can only really go for the presidency. What else is he going to do? Run for Senator or Representative? I don’t know, maybe if he takes a good shellacking with whatever he’s doing he’ll do that.

            I certainly don’t envy anyone going up against the Clinton machine.

  5. steve kelly

    To move up he’ll need to kiss some ass of some serious crooks with some serious funny-money. That’s in addition to the usual Wall Street money that plays boths sides. Obama had Chicago real estate crooks, Clinton had Lippo and Carlyle Groups. And without a Yale/Harvard connection, who becomes President?

    • Interesting. You have to go back to Reagan to get a president who was not Yale/Harvard. And then there were a lot; Carter, Ford, Nixon, LBJ, Eisenhower, Truman. But what they always had was a VP and Wise Men around them who were part of the club.

  6. In reply to lizard’s post/comment:

    What I’m having trouble understanding is the conclusion of this interview.

    It’s basically a specific question about the neoliberal wealth sucking dream team’s continued reign, to which Schweitzer responds by riding some weird Fleetwood Mac baby king we’re not England analogy. Judge for yourself:

    I won’t reiterate the transcript [above].

    But, IMO, here’s the answer:

    Governor Schweitzer was in Former President Clinton’s Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) organization.

    As a matter of fact, he was a “New Dem Of The Week” in November of 2007.

    Here’s the link below to the DLC website and article entitled “New Dem Of The Week, Brian Schweitzer, Montana Governor.”

    http://www.dlc.org/ndol_ci7d6f-2.html?contentid=254497&kaid=104&subid=116

    For the most part, DLCers embrace the neoliberal agenda (not to say that there are no variations).

    Thanks for the post. I am interested in learning more about Governor Schweitzer since he talks of supporting the implementation of a single-payer system.

    I cannot support another “corporatist” Democrat–tired of LOTE.

    I’m fed up with the neoliberal agenda, broadly speaking.

    ;-)




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