Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Bad form in the Bohlinger saga

We don't get by 4&20 BB as often as we used to, ever since Jay departed that site. But we did note that there was a recent "tut, tut, for shame" directed at the GOP because of Sen. Conrad Burns replacing Lt. Gov. John Bohlinger as the titular head of the McCain campaign in Montana.

Republicans, we learn, are meanies for having done such a thing to the good Lt. guv while the latter is on his honeymoon.

Conveniently ignored is the fact that Bohlinger needed to be replaced -- because he was not only not helping McCain in Montana, he was hurting him. If the Lt. Gov. isn't enough of a politician to understand that -- honeymoon or no -- then that's his problem. We somehow doubt that if the McCain camp hunted him down in a casino in Macao or someplace like that to give him the news -- well we doubt that he was surprised.

Let's again review:

Bohlinger apparently neglected to tell the McCain campaign a few things when he took on chairmanship of the McCain campaign. What should he have told them?

a. "I'm going to be spending all of my time between now and the caucus at which Montana's delegates will be awarded preparing for my wedding, being at my wedding, and being on a lengthy overseas honeymoon."

b. "I'm not going to put together a campaign team made up of respected Republicans to work for Sen. McCain while I'm otherwise occupied with my pre- and post-nuptual activities."

c. "Not that I actually intend to do anything for your campaign, but you should know that the reason I won't be able to put that team together is that I'm intensely disliked amongst Republicans here in Montana."

d. "Pretty much all of the people who currently eligible to vote in the caucus think I'm a traitor and treat me like a pariah for running as a Democratic governor's running mate and because I campaigned against pretty much all of them for the last two election cycles. I will almost certainly cost you far more caucus votes than I will earn you."

e. "For the above mentioned reasons of time and attention and not having a plan to put together a team, I won't be recruiting your supporters in the state to fill precinct positions. Besides, I'm not sure how many of your supporters would talk to me."

f. "My running mate, Gov. Brian Schweitzer, believes that we should bring the troops home from Iraq now, and forcefully spoke against the surge, calling it 'more of the same.' And I am the governor's number one fan and apologist -- he can do no wrong. I know that the fact that you had the foresight to push for a surge in troop numbers in Iraq is your number one issue, but you don't mind our deviation on that, do you?"

g. "If you get the nomination, you may have to work to win Montana -- yes, Montana -- if I am the head of your campaign, because of how much I am disliked by the Republican base.

In summary, I'm endorsing you because of what it will do for me and for the Montana Democratic Party, not because of what it will do for you."

Now, maybe the Lt. Gov. told McCain and his staff all of this -- but somehow we doubt it. A major clue to the fact that McCain's campaign hadn't the foggiest notion about the situation on the ground in Montana was that the intial press release from that campaign said that they were looking forward to Bohlinger's advice.

In summary, someone has indeed acted in a heartless and cynical fashion surrounding this affair -- but it wasn't McCain, Burns, or anyone in the GOP. Anything they might do pales in comparison to Bohlinger saying he would help the McCain campaign in the first place.

4&20 recommends that Bohlinger should leave the Republicans and become a Democrat, where he is wanted. Somehow we imagine that this will not be advice that Bohlinger will take, because the minute Bohlinger did that, he would no longer be of any use to the governor and the Montana Democratic Party.

No, Bohlinger will continue to call himself a Republican -- at least through election day. He will probably remain as a nominal member of the McCain team (i.e. nothing will change in that regard,) and the governor's office will try to continue to find ways to use Bohlinger as a wedge wherever possible.

A miracle might occur, and Bohlinger might begin actually to work constructively to advance the interests of the Republican Party in Montana -- i.e. to be a Republican. But we're not holding our collective breath waiting for it to happen.


carol said...

Actually, McCain and Bohlinger sounded like a good fit. ;)

Montana Headlines said...

I'm not as down on McCain as many conservatives seem to be, in spite of being disgusted about the comprehensive illegal immigration "reform" bill.

But McCain deserved better than Bohlinger.

Rebecca said...

Speaking as the "tut tutter", I wasn't complaining about McCain replacing Bohlinger so much as expressing my opinion that dumping him in favor of Burns is part of a larger pattern of punishing Bohlinger for his political choices. Here you guys have someone who's actually testing the notion that the Republican Party is a big tent, and everyone's acting like there's only a single mummy bag available at the sporting goods store.

Montana Headlines said...

Imagine that the Democrats had a state Senator who, in the last session, had consistently voted with the Republicans.

Suppose that in this election cycle, this Democratic state Senator endorsed and campaigned for Roy Brown, and that he campaigned to defeat Democratic legislators across the state.

What kind of future would that Democratic state Senator have in the Democratic Party?

What kind of reception would he get?

Probably about the same kind of reaction that Jay Stephens had to Joe Lieberman when Lieberman endorsed John McCain for President.

"Big tent" applies to people who have diverse views but who support the team. Bohlinger long ago ceased to give any real support to the team -- going back long before he became Schweitzer's running mate.

And now, he doesn't even pretend.

MTSentinel said...

MH, this is one of the best posts I've read in a long time. Very well done!

Rebecca said...

I assume that by accepting McCain's offer in December (before it looked like McCain would take the nomination and thus need someone more in tune with Montana Republicans), Bohlinger was demonstrating he wanted to be part of the team. He's made a lot of overtures to the G.O.P. Why not take him up on one of them? Instead, the party indulged in sorry antics like last summer's convention ticket brouhaha. That kind of behavior doesn't reflect well on anyone--and I think Miss Manners and Amy Vanderbilt, who you deferred to in an earlier post, would agree. They'd tell Dennis to take off his hat, and tell you guys to talk to your fellow Republican.

Anonymous said...

MH, you hit the nail on the head. Bohlinger's actions here have pretty much proven that he has no sincere interest in promoting McCain or doing anything to help the GOP.

Obviously, what he did hurt McCain's chances in Montana a great deal. McCain should have had a good shot at winning Montana's delegates. He might still have a slim shot, but only because Bohlinger has been replaced.

If Bohlinger the best interests of McCain at heart, he would have done exactly as you suggest. He would have said to the McCain folks: "Look, I'm going to be outside the country all of January and I won't be around to recruit support for McCain. Even if I could be trying to round up support, I'm such a pariah in the party right now, that I would do more harm than good." Because Bohlinger didn't tell the McCain camp these things, one has to wonder if he wasn't trying to sandbag McCain.

One can understand that because of bad feelings he might try to sabotage Montana Republicans, but why he would engage in behavior that would hurt McCain is puzzling. Does anyone know if he has some reason for wanting to stick it to McCain?

Montana Headlines said...

Rebecca, you can be sure that it wasn't the McCain camp's "offer." It would be shocking to learn anything but that it was Bohlinger who approached the McCain campaign and pitched himself to them as a maverick who was a sort of "Joe Lieberman of Montana."

The problem with that kind of pitch is that Joe Lieberman was a Democrat who often voted with Republicans. Bohlinger was a Republican who usually voted with Democrats. Republicans love the former and hate the latter.

And the reverse is true as well - that's why liberal bloggers were so harsh on Lieberman, rather than praising him for his reaching out to Republicans.

Bohlinger has most certainly not made "a lot of overtures" to the GOP. Name one.

An overture means doing something for the people you are reaching out to. His stunt of wanting to attend the convention last summer (when he hadn't attended one in many years, including before running with the governor) would have done nothing for the GOP -- and would only help him and the governor. He wanted to get his ticket punched as a Republican so he could run more effectively against Republicans.

This is an overture?

But you may recall that we disagreed with the way the state party handled the situation. In fact, our recommendation was that Bohlinger not only be invited, but asked to speak. In other words, the GOP should have found a way to use the situation to their benefit.

Bohlinger was invited to the Winter Kickoff to speak and do a Q and A. And Iverson has stated that Bohlinger will be invited to do the same at this coming summer's state GOP convention. We'll see what kind of "overture" Bohlinger makes at that time.

Iverson wants Bohlinger on the Republican team, working for Republicans. We'll see if Bohlinger wants to be on the team or not.

Rebecca said...

Okay, you have to admit: this doesn't make the team look very good.

Montana Headlines said...

Actually, it should make Bohlinger look even worse.

It demostrates that he took on the McCain chairmanship and didn't even bother to take the trouble to learn the caucus rules or find out whether he himself could vote, and if not, how he could get to vote.

We'll post on this later, but there was probably a good chance that he could have voted had he done his job as McCain's chairman.

carol said...

I think the McCain team just swapped a ceremonial chair for a real working chair now that the campaign is picking up steam. Bohlinger's a big boy and should understand that.

And I am not that "down on" McCain, though I'll probably vote for Romney next week. We all have our preferences, no?

Montana Headlines said...

Preferences? Say it isn't so... Things are 100% objective around MH!

Dan said...

Let us look at McCain’s conservative credentials:
-IMMIGRATION: he wrote the bill granting amnesty to illegal immigrants (co-sponsored by Ted Kennedy)
-SOCIAL SECURITY: he voted to give your social security money to illegal immigrants
-TAXES: he voted against the Bush tax cuts multiple times (he has since flip-flopped and has campaigned as a lifelong tax-cutter)
-RHETORIC: he routinely engages in Democratic class warfare against big companies in America, particularly the “evil” drug companies who research cures to debilitating diseases for a profit
-ECONOMY: as recently as December 2007 he admitted “he does not know the economy very well” and needed to get better at it
-1ST AMENDMENT: he wrote the McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill that was declared to be an unconstitutional infringement of the 1st Amendment (co-sponsored by ultra-liberal Democrat Russ Feingold)
-2ND AMENDMENT: he was called the “worst 2nd amendment candidate” by the president of the NRA
-ENERGY TAX: wrote a bill (co-sponsored by his buddy Lieberman) imposing a massive tax on energy which, according to the Department of Energy, would drastically raise the price of gasoline and put 300,000 Americans out of work
-GLOBAL WARMING: supports radical global warming legislation which involved him voting with every Democrat; think only America is responsible to take action, not other superpowers
-JUDGES: he joined forces with Democrats (Gang of 14) to block the Senate Republican’s attempt to confirm conservative, strict constructionist judges
-WAR ON TERROR: fought with Hillary Clinton to demand that terrorists be given a full American trial
-GAY MARRIAGE: he joined liberals to fight against a federal marriage amendment supporting the institution of traditional marriage
-CHRISTIANS: campaigning in 2000, he famously described Christian leaders as “agents of intolerance”
-PRO-LIFE: he filed an amicus brief against pro-life advocates in Wisconsin
-BI-PARTISANSHIP: he met with leading Democrats in 2004 to discuss the possibility of being John Kerry’s Vice-President
-PROFESSIONAL ETHICS: ringleader of the infamous Keating 5 ethical scandal which cost US tax payers $160 billion (Google it)
-PERSONAL ETHICS: McCain cheated on his first wife after she had a severe accident that left her partially disabled. He then divorced her and married his multi-millionaire mistress, whose daddy bought McCain a spot in the Congress

Vote Romney. This liberal, old fraud McCain can’t fool this conservative!

Montana Headlines said...

The main difference between Romney and McCain is that Romney has changed his views to fit poll-tested conservative sweet spots now that it suits him to do so.

Before deciding to run for President, Romney was known as a moderate to liberal Republican Mass. governor who pandered to the left to try to get elected to the Senate.

If he is our nominee, I will staunchly support Romney.

But don't try to claim that he is somehow the "conservative" in the race.