The above ad, timed for maximum impact on the Montana primary, is as cynical a maneuver as I have seen in politics, and is nauseating. It’s pure wedge, the crass emotionalism so blatant that it gives me goose bumps. John Walsh is about as inspiring as Major Frank Burns, and at least as deep. The fake sincerity he projects is enough to qualify him for an AVN award.
The Montana Democratic Party is deeply corrupt, and has managed to hold on to the governorship and senate seats due to sleazy trickery, dark money and the apparent ineptitude of its Republican counter-party. But then think about it: For all the years he held office there, former Senator Max Baucus only encountered one smart and well-financed opponent, Larry Williams, and dispatched of him with typical deceit and treachery, using a last-minute photo of him in college beads. He used a similar tactic against opponent Mike Taylor in 2002, with a homophobic attack that paralyzed his opponent. In campaigning, Baucus had no moral bottom. It’s how the Montana Democrat Party rolls.
But not this time, I think. Walsh is a tired man, uninspiring, military through and through, devoid of original thought and accustomed to doing as others command without reflex. (Even as I write that, I realize that Baucus held that seat for thirty years. I am swallowing hard on my words! Anything is possible in Montana.) His essential moral fatigue and intellectual shallowness comes across in the campaign images – if I can see through him, surely others will too. And that means that in 2015 Montana will again have a Republican senator, and Montana bloggers will again pay attention to an elected official after an election.
I ran across a pithy Mencken quote that adequately summarizes Walsh, below the fold.
I find H.L. Mencken’s words reassuring and satisfying in that he lived long before now and yet observed much as I do the bankruptcy of politics and religion. Nothing has changed in the ensuing decades. These words have to do with the mentality of the military man, hardly something to admire:
The average soldier left behind him only what the average American had had in peace time, to wit, a wearisome and badly rewarded job, with small prospect of anything better thereafter. In place of this dull drudgery he found in the Army a vastly more spacious life, with many of the privileges of a chartered libertine. If he had dreamed of travel it was a vain dream, but now he traveled on conducted tours quite as comfortable, much more entertaining and enormously less expensive than anything ever arranged by Cook. If he got drunk he might be punished lightly, but his punishment never involve loss of his job. If he engaged in fornication it was a venial sin, not reprehended by his superiors unless he picked up some venereal disease. If he did a little stealing it was one of the privileges as a savior of humanity. If he was rough and brutal it was a sign of his fighting spirit. Moreover, he could look forward to distinction and respect for the rest of his life, with a long list of special privileges. In every community in America, however small, there are local notables whose notability rests wholly on the fact that they were once drafted into some war or other. Their services were notably trivial and they took up service reluctantly, but nevertheless they are now men of mark, and insist on having a voice in all communal affairs. Their general intelligence is shown by the kind of ideas they advocate. They are, in the main, bitter enemies of the liberty of the individual, and are responsible for some of the worst corruption of politics. The most grasping of all politicians is the war veteran.