Saturday, December 23, 2006

Cautionary tale -- part 2

The Davison front-page saga continues, and it is hard to say that it shouldn't. Today's Gazette talks about one victim of Davison's schemes. Since the article talks about the social circles in which they met, the Republican party is of course mentioned.

As if that wasn't enough, a Rehberg aide was fired for an amazingly stupid attempt to hire someone to hack into a college computer server to change his grades. While one never wants would-be criminals to get away with their deeds, it's almost embarrassing to have such a combination of inept methods and foolish goals in one's party.

Erik Iverson, who can be given much of the credit for the Burns almost-successful comeback as well as the well-run Rehberg campaign, appropriately fired him on the spot and in public view. This was neither a time for a Donald Trump "I believe in second chances" moment nor a time for allowing the aide to resign quietly and hope that the event would not get noticed.

This is a time for rigid self-examination by Republicans in Montana. Is there something about the climate or the leadership that allows both a minor aide and a more major figure like Davison to imagine that they can do things like this and get by with it?

More importantly, is the message being sent from top to bottom that there is no room for such things in today's Republican party in Montana? As has been pointed out before on Montana Headlines, it is the responsibility of party leaders to police the state GOP, making sure that things like this don't happen in the first place. If the leaders themselves are the problem, then it is the duty of the rank and file to find new leaders.

Say what one will about Dem leaders in this state, they understand that this is a swing state, and run their politics accordingly. Republicans need to do the same -- and do it better.

There will be no breaks in the press (not that any good conservative would take the position that anyone is owed any breaks), and the hemorrhage will never stop quickly. Those facts have to be calculated in as facts of life. If keeping the law isn't enough of a reward in and of itself for some, at least the fear of the political wilderness should get their attention.

These may be isolated, unpreventable events, but the GOP cannot afford to make that assumption.