According to today’s Billings (MT) Gazette:
Sen. Max Baucus’ office Monday denounced a widely viewed Internet video that suggested Baucus was drunk on the Senate floor last week, calling it an “untrue, personal smear” designed to attack Democrats’ health-care reform legislation.
“This is beyond the pale, and this type of gutter politics has no place in the public sphere,” said Baucus spokesman Ty Matsdorf.
How can unedited CSPAN footage of Senate proceedings posted on YouTube comprise a “smear?” Any reasonable person viewing the clip would conclude that Baucus was drunk or had something else wrong with him. Baucus’ office did not assert that he was experiencing some other problem, like fatigue or a medical condition.
The Billings Gazette, along with the Great Falls Tribune, both reported that the YouTube video was posted anonymously, as if Baucus was somehow the target of an unfair attack. I guess they assume that their readers don’t know how YouTube or the internet work, and that CSPAN is no longer a credible source for U.S. Senate proceedings.
If these newspapers wanted to cite someone who would accuse Baucus of being drunk on the record, they should have called me.
Some Baucus defenders have theorized that he was just tired from putting in all the long hours on health care. Tired people slow down when they speak and have trouble finding the right, and sometimes obvious, word.
Fatigue is not evident in the CSPAN clip. In fact, Baucus speaks at a rapid clip, resulting in slurring of words. He also demonstrates the false bravado and jerky gesticulations that come not from lack of sleep but from alcohol.
By claiming a “smear” and a “slander,” we think Baucus protests too much. It is also hard to take seriously anything said by his spokesman Ty Matsdorf . This is the same staffer who dutifully claimed that Melodee Hanes, Baucus’ current live-in girlfriend, was acting in her “official capacity” as a Senate staffer when she met with a divorce lawyer to plan Baucus’ divorce months before Baucus had even discussed divorce with his wife.