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Saving Face in Montana

 

Had enough of free elections yet? On the heels of the Torricelli for Lautenburg substitution by New Jersey Democrats, the Republicans in far-flung Montana have countered with an eleventh-hour switcheroo of their own.

The October 10 BILLINGS GAZETTE reports that Republican Senatorial candidate Mike Taylor is terminating his bid to unseat Senator Max Baucus, and not just because he’s nineteen points down in the latest poll. According to the Billings paper, Taylor took umbrage to the following advertisement from the incumbent camp:

What incensed Taylor was the film clip accompanying the ad. Taylor had a twice weekly segment in the early 1980s on a Denver television station. The clip shows Taylor applying lotions to the face of a man sitting in the barber chair and discussing techniques. The ad shows Taylor, then slender, sporting a full beard. He is wearing a tight-fitting, three piece suit, with a big-collared open shirt ala John Travolta in “Saturday Night Fever.” Taylor’s top two or three shirt buttons are unbuttoned, exposing some bare chest and a number of gold chains.

Is Baucus accusing Taylor of giving substandard facials? Not according to Taylor, who interprets the Incumbent’s use of the facial footage as an attempt to cast aspersions on his sexuality. Of course, he may have a point. As folks may remember from 2000 when Gore operatives speculated on the sex life of Ralph Nader, the Democratic party is not above violating the spirit, if not the letter, of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy.

 

Despite understanding the Democrats’ tactic and its effectiveness, it is hard not to see Taylor’s withdrawal based on this negative ad as one of the most gutless and most symbolically significant moves of this campaign season so far. There is something utterly reprehensible about these politicians of the center, who construct “reasonable arguments” for US troops to be in over 100 countries where the inhabitants despise us, turning tail from election campaigns when it appears likely that they’ll lose. Our Senate is chock-full of sweaty-palmed chickenhawks prone to bribery and blackmail; though Mike Taylor is not destined to join that august body of deliberation, one look at C-Span tells us that he has been there in spirit for many decades now.

ANTHONY GANCARSKI is a Spokane, WA-based freelance writer. He welcomes comments at Anthony.Gancarski@attbi.com.