Thursday, December 21, 2006

Cautionary tale

With Pat Davison's guilty plea, any hopes that his friends and former political allies might have had that all of the charges were a big mistake disappeared.

There never was much hope, but it was sobering to consider that someone who was actively engaging in a "Ponzi scheme" would have the gall to run for public office.

There were those who thought that Davison had a better chance to defeat now Governor Schweitzer than did Bob Brown. This may have been true, but what a disaster a Davison win -- even in the primary -- would have been.

There was once a time when party leaders would take a potential candidate behind closed doors and grill him about every possible skeleton in the proverbial closet. This is assuming that a candidate with a "history" cared so little about his own party as to run in the first place.

Davison was willing to set the Republican party back a generation in Montana for the sake of his own political ambitions, for that is exactly what would have happened had this article been published today about a Governor Davison, rather than failed GOP primary candidate Davison.

Davison's principle backers were likewise guilty of failing to scrutinize his business dealings.

It is one thing to get caught up in the ubiquitous fund-raising cycle of Washington once elected, as did Conrad Burns (and has basically every Congressman and Senator, because of the astronomical amounts of money that have to be raised for every campaign.)

It is quite another to break the law repeatedly and then to run for a major public office -- raising money and soliciting support from unsuspecting party members who now probably can't help but be embarrassed about their involvement with Davison.

Republicans will have no chance at regaining lost ground in Montana politics without policing their own ranks on matters like this. After all, as Conrad Burns learned, one not only has to run against the Democrat candidate, but against the press as well. There is no room for small errors, let alone suicidal actions like Davison's.