Not long ago, Denny Rehberg was running around his state (he is Montana’s lone Congressman) trumpeting Michelle Bachmann as America’s savior, bragging about his role as one of the founders of the “Tea Party Caucus”, and mouthing all of the inane talking points about Obama, liberals, Cap and Tax, Obamacare, Big Government, Illegal Immigrants, and all the rest. He even (proudly) got written up in the New York Times for his violent suggestion that “activist federal judges” be eradicated and be “put on the endangered species list.” And only a month ago, he was claiming that Obama was secretly instructing the EPA to spy on Montana ranchers with drones.
UPDATE: If you are interested in what Dennis Rehberg was saying just a year ago, here’s my coverage of his speech to the 2011 Bat Crap Crazy Legislature. Remember also that Rehberg was the top Republican official in the state for ten years during which time the GOP platform called for imprisoning gay people. He never lifted a finger to do anything about it.
Then election season arrived. Montana is among the more conservative states in America, and so Rehberg had probably always assumed that in the current political climate and with Obama’s numbers low, to move from the House to the Senate in 2012 (and beat Jon Tester, the incumbent Senator) he could just keep reading from the same idiotic right-wing script.
And yet suddenly, about two weeks ago, Rehberg and the Republican Party started running a flood of TV ads talking about how “Denny Rehberg is independent” and “is not afraid to break with the Republican Party” and “refuses to to the party line,” all for the good of the state.
Clearly they did some market research and determined that the reason Jon Tester is more likable than Rehberg, by a wide margin, is that Tester makes an effort to be independent while Rehberg is hyper-partisan-conservative. And so all references to conservatism have now disappeared from Rehberg’s campaign material. Instead, we are being given a list of things that supposedly show that Rehberg votes against the conservative line (though the list is pretty shoddy–he cites his votes against the bailout and a trade agreement as evidence that he is not a conservative).
Then he ran a TV ad showing a Montana couple who adopted a Nepalese child. Speaking to the camera, the father talks about how he was having trouble completing the adoption but that Rehberg’s office stepped in to help. In other words, Rehberg’s not really a provincial ignoramus known for keeping company with bigots, but a global multi-culturalist. Quite a change of tune.
This is all good news for Democrats and even Obama. It tells us that the Tea Party brand is in the toilet, and that Republican partisan-ism, which consists of Republicans nastily saying “no” to everything the President proposes, but rarely offering solutions of their own, is hurting the GOP badly.