Sunday, December 10, 2006

The Gazette bids Conrad farewell

Today's Gazette has an interview in which outgoing U.S. Senator Conrad Burns (R) reflects on his years of service in Washington.

True to form, now that Burns is gone, the Gazette treats him quite nicely in not just one, but two articles, perhaps in hopes that readers will forget how his home-town newspaper took the lead in savaging him in the recent election campaign.

This is even-handedness, Gazette-style: unfavorable articles before the election, favorable ones after the election.

My favorite section --

"But some of [Burns's] behavior brought criticism back home, where columnists and editorial writers worried that he made Montanans look like rubes on the national stage."

This is true, and it was an unabashed (and reasonably successful) move to play on small-town insecurities (and every town in Montana is a small town by U.S. standards.)

Now, New Yorkers don't worry about whether one of their more colorful citizens will reflect badly on them personally or on the greatness of their city. They shrug their shoulders at someone like Al Sharpton, and say "that's New York, deal with it..."

Neither should people from Montana worry about whether a fellow Montanan is going to be the toast of the Beltway cocktail circuit. Given the fact that Jon Tester makes Conrad Burns look suave, self-confidence is a personal quality that even Montana Democrats are going to have to actively cultivate over the next 6 years, once the giddiness of electoral victory wears off and the realization that Jon Tester (yes, that Jon Tester) is actually Montana's face in Washington sets in.

But don't look for any Billings Gazette columnists and editorial writers to be wringing their hands over Tester's gaffes, at least not at a time when it might affect an election.

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