The Indy's Baucus profile gets national attention



The Indy’s profile of Sen. Max Baucus has received attention from bloggers around the country since it was published last Thursday.

The Washington Post's Ezra Klein noted that the profile's conclusion—that there's a distinction to be made between Baucus' work ethic and leadership—is particularly "trenchant."

Joan McCarter of Daily Kos, one of the most popular liberal blogs, wrote:

Matthew Frank's profile of Max Baucus in the Missoula Independent goes a long way to explaining how this unlikeliest of small state Senators finds himself at the center of the most important public policy debate of a generation. The profile shows both how Baucus got to the point of perhaps securing his political legacy, but how he might also be the very person who dooms it to failure.

Closer to home, we also got some link love from the Flathead Beacon and New West.

A couple recent bits of Baucus news: Last Thursday, the Wall Street Journal reported, Baucus said the Senate Finance Committee wouldn't take up bipartisan health legislation this summer, kicking the issue to the fall and thus missing President Obama's self-imposed deadline.

After meeting of top members of the panel, which has wide jurisdiction over health policy, Sen. Baucus (D., Mont.) vowed to work into next week to narrow differences with top Republicans. But the chairman said the committee would not be convened next week, when the full Senate is scheduled to debate the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court.

Mr. Baucus also said it is unclear whether a draft of the bill will be made public next week. "We'll see how far we get," he said. The Senate is scheduled to begin its recess Friday, Aug. 7.

And as Democrats grow tired of Baucus' closed-door negotiations with select Republicans to hammer out a bipartisan bill, some are suggesting a secret-ballot vote to strip him of his chairmanship. From The Hill:

“Every two years the caucus could have a secret ballot on whether a chairman should continue, yes or no,” said Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), the chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee. “If the ‘no’s win, [the chairman’s] out.

“I’ve heard it talked about before,” he added.

Harkin did not mention Baucus, but his suggestion would likely resonate with the senior Montana Democrat, who has often clashed with his colleagues over important bills.

With the national spotlight shining so brightly on Baucus, it'll be interesting to see what he hears from Montanans during the August recess. He'll be in Missoula August 13 for an invitation-only event sponsored by St. Patrick Hospital and Community Medical Center.

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