To my abiding shame, in my early voting years I actually cast my sacred ballot for Max Baucus, the slippery “political chameleon” who serves as the senior senator from my home state of Montana. Baucus, a dead-eyed human/cardboard hybrid whose tangible legislative achievements could fit tidily on an iPhone screen, wormed his way to the center of the current health-care reform debate through a combination of torpid longevity, guile and—how to put it?—passive Biblical knowledge of medical industry interest groups. Just about every Montanan I know finds this state of affairs both deeply embarrassing for the state and highly worrisome for the Republic at large.
Today’s Times report on the White House’s backstage machinations reveals the degree to which the duly elected President of the world’s most powerful nation must kowtow to this minor satrap. And buried deep in this account of frequent presidential sit-downs and biweekly consultations with ranking staff members lies the most apt and disturbing factoid of all:
Peter R. Orszag, the White House budget director, has spent so much time in the senator’s office that he helps himself to the Coke Zeros tucked away in Mr. Baucus’s personal refrigerator.
Coke Zero? This man must be stopped.
UPDATE: For a nuanced and informative view (in contrast to this blog post, in other words), see this piece from my reportorial alma mater, The Missoula Independent.