Brian Schweitzer Can’t Be The Democratic Nominee For President
Montana governor Brian Schweitzer is a good public speaker and has the right amount of folksiness to charm audiences. In fact, his speech at the 2008 Democratic Convention was one of the more impressive displays.
That said, he can’t be the Democratic nominee for President in 2016 for at least two reasons.
First of all, Schweitzer courted the NRA for an endorsement. He didn’t just come out in favor of gun rights aimed at hunters and sportsmen as many other Democrats in red states and in national races have (including President Obama) but he actively courted the most extreme of the “mainstream” gun groups in America, the NRA. The group that is in part financed by the gun manufacturers and who has stood against nearly every sensible gun law for the past 20 years or more.
When he obtained that endorsement, Schweitzer didn’t just note it on his website or send out a press release. He appeared at an event with Wayne LaPierre and touted the video on his Youtube page.
Remember, the NRA opposed the weak post-Sandy Hook background checks – something that Republicans like Pat Toomey and John McCain voted for, as did red state Democrats like Mary Landrieu.
For a long time I’ve been an advocate of a wider tent within the Democratic Party, and I don’t want them to become purge central like today’s GOP, but you also need to stand for things.
While I think both President Clinton and President Obama were too timid on the gun issue, I think they both went after the gun lobby in some form. In the case of Schweitzer, I’d feel very shaky about supporting someone who palled around with an organization who decided to make the unprecedented step of invoking the President’s children to make their political point.
Schweitzer is also a proponent of fake clean coal technology and other sketchy energy concerns. He asked Montana officials to claim they “support the use of coal money for the completion of your project/projects.” In a profile, 60 Minutes described him as “Montana’s Coal Cowboy.”
Schweitzer has also backed the Keystone XL pipeline, and described opponents of it as “jackasses.” I’m far from an environmental purist, but especially post-BP shouldn’t we think again and again about tying ourselves to fossil fuels and to the environmental impact that errors in the world of fossil fuels create?
All of the names floated so far for the 2016 Democratic nomination have pluses and minuses – Clinton, O’Malley, Cuomo – but none have the coziness with the sordid, troubling people and issues that Schweitzer does.