Friday, March 2, 2007

Mea maxima culpa, Max

No-one has complained about it (probably because it was pretty tame by blogosphere standards), but Montana Headlines, upon reflection, crossed a line yesterday that we regret. Namely, our low side-swipes at Sen. Max Baucus's intelligence.

He's obviously accomplished enough to be a multi-term U.S. Senator, which is more than can be said for 99.9+% of Montanans -- which of course includes us. Baucus deserves better than personally derogatory remarks, just as Conrad Burns did and as Republicans in general do.

He rather deserves substantive critiques, such as ones that discuss why we believe that he has chosen to embrace some of the "right's" worse aspects and chosen to neglect some of the left's better features.

A running theme on this site has been that Democrat politicians in Montana say and do things which, had they been Republicans, would lead to their being pilloried in the press and by the political opposition. Our intent, whether accomplished or not, has been to point out hypocrisies to show they haven't gone unnoticed, and then simply to move on -- hoping for a future time when both Republicans and Democrats will criticize policies and positions rather than ridicule an opponent's supposed lack of intelligence or morals.

Our posts went at points beyond pointing out that double standard, instead having more of a sense of "turnabout's fair play" -- which in this matter, shouldn't be fair on either end of the turnabout.

Interestingly, the spur for this corrective post came from someone who was hated for his policies (and even more for the effectiveness with which he pursued them legislatively), but who was and is lambasted on a crudely personal basis by his political foes: Newt Gingrich.

Appearing with Mario Cuomo at New York's Cooper Union, Gingrich had this to say:

“Nothing will take more poison out of the system than requiring the candidates to be in the same room with partisans from both sides, because you cannot biologically be as vicious and as nasty as the current system if you’re face to face... And if you can be, then you’re pathological and you’re disqualified.”

Indeed. And this is one of the obvious pitfalls of the internet, where passions and one's ideas of cleverness commonly run ahead of decencies that would be observed even in a heated face-to-face debate.

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