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Sen. Max Baucus, gun control weasel

April 23, 2013|By Paul Whitefield
  • Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) has decided to retire and not run for reelection.
Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) has decided to retire and not run for reelection. (John Moore / Getty Images )

Don’t look for Max Baucus in a new edition of “Profiles in Courage.”

My colleague Jon Healey on Tuesday lamented the effect that the Montana Democratic senator’s decision to not seek reelection in 2014 will have on an overhaul of the tax code.

But my issue with Baucus is far less complex; in fact, I just wonder one thing: Why couldn’t Baucus throw us gun control advocates a bone on his way out the door?

Recall that last week, Baucus was one of four Democratic senators who voted against extending background checks on gun purchases. When asked to explain his vote, his answer at the time seemed at least, well, honest and practical. He said: “Montana.”

And that was sort of OK last week, when we all thought Baucus would run for reelection and was weighing the political implications of a pro-gun control vote in a Western state filled with conservative voters.

But now, we find out that not only isn’t he running for reelection, he’s been weighing that decision for some time.

So what gives, Max? “Montana?” It doesn’t have quite the same ring when it’s just the place you live, not the place you represent in Congress.

It’s OK for people to have different views on tough issues such as gun control. Heck, it’s even expected that politicians will pander, or be evasive, on some issues when they’re running for reelection.

But it takes a special kind of cynicism to pander, to duck, dodge and and weave, even when you’ve got one foot out the door.

Baucus could’ve voted for the background checks without fear of being punished at the ballot box. Or he could’ve been a stand-up guy and said, “I disagree with this bill, and here’s why.”

Instead, he hid behind “Montana.”

Sorry, Max. In your case, that’s just a state, not a reason.  

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