DOMESTIC AFFAIRS: Here's a pleasant one-hour Radio Interview, featuring three interviewers and U.S. Senate candidate Paul Thomas Richards. It Covers a LOT of Ground and It's Intelligent. NO b.s. NO Punches Pulled:
FOREIGN POLICIES: Paul Thomas Richards' 2006 Mansfield-Metcalf Speech. This offers a short, but in-depth analysis, of U.S. Foreign Affairs.
Richards Gives Cynics New Hope
July 4, 2006
Before we leave the U.S. Senate Democratic primary for the person who will sit in Mike Mansfield’s seat, a word is necessary to give some insight into why the four political professors who are paid to interpret the polls were not only so far off in their predictions, but could not give a single reason why, after they were paid to reflect on why they could be so wrong.
People that live by the polls, die by the polls and if Harry Truman could prove that point you would think that lessons could be remembered. Forrest Anderson did more in his one term as governor than a predecessor in producing the most reform of any Montana governor. He knew Montanans and could gauge a campaign on how it approached Joe Sixpack, who sat at home after a hard day’s work and separated the baloney from the beefsteak. Anderson didn’t need a poll to tell him how Montanans would vote - he knew instinctively.
Polling in Montana is about as useful as polling a herd of stamping bison on which way is the best to go, as you follow them off the cliff. The Lee Newspapers’ poll some ten days before the primary had Morrison ahead of Tester by one percentage point and the professors reading their tea leaves were solid in their prediction of a race too close to call.
I knew from the debates that Paul Richards presented the best of Democratic programs, by saying what he believed after studying the issues, not studying what polls said and what people wanted to hear.
The early Morrison lead was based on the firm belief that he had twice won statewide and he could win again. That margin, like the front of an Alaskan glacier, seemed solid, although weaknesses inside were slowing building pressures of resistance.
If you ever took a tour ship along the Columbia Glacier, you would see how they drift close to the face of the glacier towering above the water and when the Captain would give a loud blast from the ship’s horn, part of the ice would give way and crash into the ocean. Doing that now would certainly be a poor practice now to resist the effects of global warming, but like so many other things, it felt good at the time.
The weakness of the Morrison supporters would not stand the blast of Paul Richards, which hit after the last poll was taken showing the Morrison-Tester vote was too close to call.
Jon Tester had called Paul Richards before the final poll was announced and he requested a meeting. Tester was speaking until 9:00 p.m. and Richards suggested they meet in his mother’s dining room in Helena later that night. It was agreed and Richards went over his issues (peace, Indian claims settlement, protecting all remaining roadless areas, renewable energy, universal health care, and public financing of elections) and noted where Jon Tester could firm up his positions to take the stronger stances that Paul had argued so effectively the entire primary campaign.
Since both were experienced legislators that knew the importance of late-night negotiations, an agreement was reached that would be in the best interest of Montanans. Paul Richards would announce his support for Jon Tester. The next day, he announced that he would vote for Jon and urged his supporters to do the same to best see that Conrad Burns would not return to the United States Senate.
Paul Richards displayed statesmanship by his concern that John Morrison could not beat Conrad Burns in November and that supporting Jon Tester was the only way to achieve the needed change in the direction of this nation. (The control of the U.S. Senate hinged on this one race).
The blast of Paul Richards’ announcement separated those who had a substantial belief that John Morrison could be the best person to unseat Conrad Burns. The unexpected issue of family values had weakened Morrison’s chances and Morrison’s lead had been cut.
Political professors who believed in the latest Lee Newspaper poll without having an insight on the rugged individualism of the Montana voter found themselves watching the Morrison Glacier losing those who could no longer ignore the issue that Tester and Richards brought out so effectively in the final six days of the campaign.
Richards and his supporters joined the Tester campaign in Missoula in watching the returns. When the first returns showed a two-to-one lead by Tester, the applause was deafening. The race was over in 30 minutes, while the political professors watched their projections evaporate without any statistical justification.
When Jon Tester invited Paul Richards to stand by him on stage, they raised their hands to an electrifying applause, recognizing that they now had the candidate and the issues to energize the uphill campaign to unseat Conrad Burns, who is recognized as the most expendable person serving in the Senate.
The statesmanship of Paul Richards was a moment rarely seen in Montana politics. The issues were elevated to be the most important part of the campaign. Now, Democrats can fight Burns’ upcoming embarrassing ten-to-twelve million dollar mud-throwing campaign.
Montanans can now finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. We will finally have a competent and conscientious senator in Mike Mansfield’s seat. It is enough to give cynics a new hope for a better Democratic deal in November.
Delegate, Montana Constitutional Convention
July 4, 2006