Baucus Nomination: Thumbs Down

Since the rumors and subsequent announcement that Montana’s senior Senator, Max Sieben Baucus, would be nominated for the U.S. Ambassador to China, the laudatory remarks toward the “powerful” senator flowed like highway dollars into Montana.

The “laudatory remarks” included those from:

-Current Lt. Governor and Senate candidate John Walsh, a Democrat, who said, “Baucus served Montana with ‘distinction and class.’”

-Current U.S. Representative and Senate candidate Steve Daines, a Republican, said Baucus was a “dedicated public servant.”

-Montana’s other U.S. Senator, Jon Tester, used the same line, “dedicated public servant,” and he added that Baucus will be “a tremendous representative for the American people in China.”

-Montana Governor Steve Daines basically said the same things.

-President Obama said, “Max Baucus is going to be an outstanding ambassador to China.”

Amazing.

If you’re looking for commentary applauding the selection of Baucus to be an Ambassador, you might want to stop reading now.

I am happy to report that I never voted for Baucus, which does not mean I voted for “the other guy,” as I sometimes left that section of my ballot blank. Baucus surrounded himself with shrewd political folks who paved the way for him to be re-elected over and over, although he did not always deserve another term. They pulled a rabbit out of their hat several times, even when it seemed most Democrats hated him.

The fact of the matter is that Max Baucus had several ethical lapses during his career which should preclude him from being placed in the key position of U.S. Ambassador to China.

I seriously doubt that any of that will matter because this is not about who can be the best U.S. Ambassador to China. It’s about how the Democrats can keep their majority in the U.S. Senate – and it’s not just about Montana politics. It’s also about the other Democrats in the Senate who can move into the positions on key committees to give them power and prestige leading up to November 2014.

Max Baucus is not even close to being the best this country has to offer, although China, as one of the last communist countries, will probably love having someone as weak as Baucus working in China.

Here are a few issues that cast a shadow on the life and career of Max Baucus:

The Christine Niedermeier incident is one for the ages. According to a 1999 story in Salon.com, “The former chief of staff (Niedermeier) to Sen. Max Baucus claims he sexually harassed her, then fired her, but the senator tells an entirely different story — that she was relentlessly abusing his staff.” The Baucus camp circled the wagons and the Niedermeier incident went away.

A few years later it was reported that Baucus took his girlfriend on taxpayer-funded junkets in 2008, and it was also reported that he gave the same girlfriend a $14000 raise.
He was finally caught. From Roll Call:

Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus’ office confirmed late Friday night that the Montana Democrat was carrying on an extramarital affair with his state office director, Melodee Hanes, when he nominated her to be U.S. Attorney in Montana.

So, Baucus was dating his state director and then nominated her to be Montana’s U.S. Attorney. In most occupations, that would get you fired.

As for Montanans being in love with Montana’s Max, many readers may remember that several years ago it was discovered that Max Baucus “didn’t own a home in Montana for 11 years of his 29-year Senate career.”

The one issue that probably ticked off many military supporters was when Baucus let his desire for publicity get ahead of opening the Malmstrom AFB runway. It was the epic crash and burn that cost Montana thousands of jobs and millions of dollars.

I wonder if any senators will ask Baucus about these issues when he comes up for confirmation. The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations will hold hearings on the nomination of Baucus. Let’s hope they don’t rubber stamp the nomination.

This could end up being an actual “train wreck.”

 

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