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Montana Is Losing A Statesman

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Max Baucus will retire from his Senate seat here in Montana as soon as he’s confirmed by the Senate (a certainty) as the new U.S. Ambassador to China. He announced his intention not to seek re-election last April. Baucus is equally at tension with the progressive wing of the Democratic Party and conservatives. He just as easily could have been a liberal Republican in the vein of a Lowell Weicker from Connecticut or a John Chaffee from Rhode Island. He gets barely passing grades from the ACLU, he is solidly pro-choice and is against most restrictive gun control measures. That’s how a Democrat gets elected in Montana (a safe red state in presidential elections) and we need more statesmen like him.

The political discourse in America has changed in the last 4 to 6 years. Sure both sides have always accused other of treachery, falsification and patronage but after the elections or whatever grandstanding occurred both sides would come together and make the necessary compromises to move America forward. Max Baucus, because he was a statesman and not a ideologue, had credibility with most of his colleagues in the chamber and often brokered major deals. Staunchly against the Canadian single-payer socialized insurance system he brought together health insurance industry leaders with representatives of pharmaceutical groups and hospital management firms to discuss health care reform prior to the passing of the ACA. He led the passage of the Columbia Free Trade agreement with that country that some believe will be a $2.5 Billion boost to the economy. Some might call him a fence sitter, I call him pragmatic.

Wherever government works you’ll usually find Senator Baucus at the center of it while Tea Party Republicans and the most progressive Democrats draw lines in the sand. Senator Baucus, you will be missed.

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