Thursday, August 7, 2008


The dog days of August are over now, and with the national convention scene almost to the halfway point, there are some things to talk about.

Brian Schweitzer sure made an impression at the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday night. Too bad the major commercial networks condensed their coverage so much that we missed the fireworks. NBC's Tom Brokaw, who certainly knows Montana, helped steer his network's coverage toward Schweitzer's rallying, call-and-response, address. By the time NBC cut to the podium, the Montana governor was wrapping up. Brokaw and Brian Williams spoke a bit more about Schweitzer afterward, but the country missed quite a show. (I wasn't tuned in to public television or radio, but apparently, Schweitzer's entire appearance was broadcast live on those stations.)
Put simply, Montana has never had a governor who was in a position to make that kind of speech. Nor have we had a governor capable of pulling it off and bringing everyone in the arena, including Bill Clinton to Michele Obama, to their feet.

How will Roy Brown & Co. respond to that kind of performance? My guess is that we'll start hearing the "work horse vs. show horse" theme on a regular basis, as Brown asks voters whether they really want a celebrity governor who performs for national audiences and television cameras or whether they'd prefer a quiet, thoughtful governor who stays home and tends to business. Expect a lot more of this theme if the Democrats' national organization puts Schweitzer on the campaign trail for Obama.

Brown also may go after Schweitzer in another way, by pointing out small issues, magnifying them and then hoping voters turn them into larger issues of character and trustworthiness.
Whether it's Schweitzer's definition of when a document is "signed"--namely, whether it's when he puts pen to paper or when he actually releases the inked document--or the investigation into a radio public service announcement, I predict Brown and his campaign will attempt to sow seeds of doubt about the state's popular chief executive.

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