Friday, March 24, 2006
Talking point: Bringin' home the pork
I’ve been thinking a little bit lately about some of the talking points being bandied about in Montana’s Senate race, the hottest race in the state and possibly the nation this year. So now and then I’ll examine what’s being said under a 4&20 microscope... All observations are free; you may steal any ideas found here for the good of Western Civilization. The rhetoric: Conrad Burns has brought $2 billion in federal funds to Montana. With seats on powerful committees that influence where federal funds go, he’s provided for Montana. Our state is among the leaders in return for our tax dollar: we receive far more funds from the federal government than we contribute. Without Conrad Burns, that will change, and Montana will suffer for it. The message: Sure he’s a crook, but he’s only snacking off the crumbs that dropped of Montana’s banquet table, which he provided. The reality: Much of what Burns includes in his amount he claims he brought to Montana is actually money the state’s other and more senior Senator accounted for. Included in Burns’ $2 billion figure is transportation funds -- which Baucus won for the state. Also what Burns doesn’t talk about is the money he’s diverted away from Montana and towards well-paying lobbyists’ clients, like the Michigan Chippewa tribe and Abramoff client for whom Burns won a $3-million grant over needier Montana tribes. Still the reality is that, as a three-term Senator in the party of power and someone who’s known to change his vote for money, he has and will doubt continue to provide pork for the state. However, if a Democrat wrests the seat away from Burns and, in doing so, helps win a majority in the Senate for the Democrats, you can bet your sweet *ss that Montana is going to benefit. As a swing state, as a state providing a blueprint on how to win moderate to moderate-conservative Western voters, a state with a charismatic and exceptionally popular Democratic governor in conservative geography, you can be sure that the Democratic party will put the new junior Senator on some very important committees and continue to provide for the state’s voters. If a Democrat is elected to Senate from Montana, the party will give us a big, fat thank-you kiss. In 1992, Arkansas became the center of political speculation as it provided for the emergence of a new kind of Democrat after the Reagan years. In 2006 and beyond, Montana might very well be the next small state to land on the big stage.