Apparently MSNBC's Chris Matthews judges the political ideology of elected officials by inconsequential cosmetic matters such as their style of clothing or haircut. During a segment handicapping the tough reelection campaigns of a handful of Senate Democrats, the Hardball host described Sen. Jon Tester (D-Montana) as, "another guy who's got a crew cut, looks like a regular guy... [who] works on his tractor on weekends." Tester is "no Northeastern liberal, that's for sure," Matthews remarked to the University of Virginia's Larry Sabato.
Well, he certainly is no Northeasterner, but Tester most certainly is a liberal, judging by his low rating from the American Conservative Union (ACU), his high marks from the liberal Americans for Democratic Action, and his 100 percent rating by the abortion-on-demand lobby NARAL Pro-Choice America. [MP3 audio available here]
There is an ethics squabble going on in Montana perpetrated by the senior counsel to the Democrat Governor of Montana, Brian Schweitzer. It has been revealed that the Governor's "senior counsel," a man named Eric Stern, has been caught trying to "back-door" the judge in a case in which he is involved on behalf of Governor Schweitzer. The ethics violation is bad enough, but it has also been discovered that, even though he is claimed to be an attorney and the Governor's senior counsel, Eric Stern, is not licensed to practice law in the state of Montana. This seems to say that Eric Stern is practicing law without a license, doesn’t it? Strangely, the media have not bothered to report this most important fact.
According to reports, Eric Stern "a senior official in the governor's administration" improperly contacted the commissioner of political practices "outside of official proceedings in an ongoing ethics case." In effect, Stern is accused of trying to "back-door" the judge by discussing the case outside of official proceedings, an extremely blatant ethics violation.
On Wednesday’s "Good Morning America," anchor Chris Cuomo completely glossed over the health care implications of a Canadian mother giving birth to quadruplets in America and not her home country. According to Cuomo, Karen Jepp and her husband, the new parents of identical quadruplets, had to be flown 300 miles from Calgary to Montana on August 16, because "every neo-natal unit in their country was too crowded to handle four preemie births."
Apparently, it didn’t occur to Mr. Cuomo to wonder why all the hospitals in Canada, a nation with universal health care, were full. During a subsequent interview with Jepp and her husband J.P., the co-host continued with this unquestioning explanation. He elaborated, "...Towards the very end, it gets even more complicated....You know, they're not ready for them at the hospital. Your doctors have to make calls. You have to fly 300 miles to have [the children]." Considering that back in June, "Good Morning America" co-anchor Diane Sawyer announced "a commitment to take a hard look at the health insurance industry," it seems odd that unusual circumstances, which forced a very pregnant mother to fly to another country and give birth, would be of such little interest to Mr. Cuomo.
Something tells me Karen Ogden doesn't have a future in health care reporting in any large mainstream media publication or network. In the July 23 edition of her paper, the Great Falls Tribune editor took a sobering look at painkiller addictions and the black market for the narcotics on American Indian reservations in Montana. "Free" socialized medicine and the long wait times for surgery were partly to blame, she found. :
A perfect storm of factors is feeding the pill problem: grinding poverty coupled with handsome prices for contraband pills (a methadone tablet sells for up to $20 on the Blackfeet Reservation), a long history of addiction in American Indian communities and the fact there is no charge for patient visits or prescriptions at IHS clinics.
Some allege that crushing workloads for IHS doctors and political pressure on physicians from tribal officials and relatives — a function of life in close-knit reservation communities — also are to blame.
Another culprit, they say, is a budget crisis within the IHS that is forcing patients nationwide to wait months and often years for hip replacements, knee repairs and other badly needed surgeries.
Now that the Democrats hold the majority in the Senate, the New York Times is painting the new Senators firmly into the political middle. Reporter Timothy Egan profiled Sen.-Elect Jon Tester, one of the hard-left Daily Kos Democrats, in a story headlined "Fresh Off the Farm in Montana, a Senator-to-Be." Egan began his ode to the liberal man with a crew-cut: "When he joins the United States Senate in January, big Jon Tester — who is just under 300 pounds in his boots — will most likely be the only person in the world’s most exclusive club who knows how to butcher a cow or grease a combine." You have to read quite a way into the article to see that this good old boy is raising "organic lentils, barley, peas, and gluten-free grain" on his farm. No boutique liberal there, eh?
Egan insisted "the senator-elect from Montana truly is your grandfather’s Democrat — a pro-gun, anti-big-business prairie pragmatist whose life is defined by the treeless patch of hard Montana dirt that has been in the family since 1916." That definition would work, if your grandfather opposed wiretapping enemy communications in World War 2 or would have opposed a Patriot Act to help fight the Nazis.
Former NBC anchor Tom Brokaw returned to the Nightly News set on Thursday night to forecast big trouble in Big Sky country for Montana’s Republican Senator, Conrad Burns: "This campaign sums up a lot of the Republican problems nationwide." Brokaw theorized that the country’s just tired of less-than-honest GOP majority rule: "For Burns and other GOP candidates across the country, their toughest opponent may be their own party, after six years of White House and Congressional rule."
He touted Montana’s Democrat governor, Brian Schweitzer, as popular, and projected a Democrat win: Schweitzer "could help pull independents and Republicans across the line for Jon Tester on Election Day and that in effect would change Montana from a red to a blue state. It would be a big change." Brokaw’s two local pundits on the race both blasted Bush and the GOP for misleading the country into war in Iraq. Brokaw ignored how Tester’s getting major support from far-left outlets like the Daily Kos website and is calling for the outright repeal of the Patriot Act, which is currently the buzz in Montana.
While the national media begin to revisit the "corruption" issue -- largely as a Republican problem, as you can see from Monday's front page Washington Post story on GOP Sen. Conrad Burns -- it's important to remember where Democrats could have problems. Take appointed Sen. Bob Menendez, who's now the subject of a federal investigation for accepting $3,000-a-month rent from a group he's also sought to enrich with federal funding. NRO blogger Jim Geraghty reported:
So here outside Philly, we're getting New Jersey political ads, too, including one for Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, that features him in a courtroom. Oh, no, wait, it's not what you're thinking - he's not a defendant, he's touting his credentials fighting political corruption, not facilitating it.
The Washington Post on Wednesday maintained its iron grip on Republican ethnic gaffes with political reporter Jim VandeHei repeating the Democratic talking points against Montana Sen. Conrad Burns, who’s made several jokes about Latino workers having their citizenship papers. The headline, playing off their incessant Macaca riffs, is “Comments Haunt Another Senator.” (They don’t mean Hillary’s Gandhi-gas-station joke.)
Just so you know that this is a one-sided tactic, the Post didn’t notice in June that San Diego Democratic congressional hopeful Francine Busby told a largely Latino audience, “you don’t need papers for voting,” until after she lost, despite playing up her chances over the last weekend as a possible bellwether of big GOP losses. Now look at the first paragraphs of VandeHei's story and ponder if it doesn't sound like he's writing for the Democratic Press Release Service: