Saturday, December 05, 2009

Et Tu, Baucus?

The question is timing. Why is Max Baucus, the Senate master of health care reform, telling the world on a Saturday morning that he "is currently in a mature and happy relationship with Melodee Hanes,” adding that “They are both divorced, and in no way was their relationship the cause of their respective divorces.”

Well, yes, congratulations and all that, but why is the Senator's office sending out this particular Hallmark card in the midst of weekend sessions to iron out the kinks in a 2000-plus page bill to reform American health care?

The answer may relate to another bit of news in the statement that Ms. Hanes was nominated in March by Baucus for the position of US Attorney in Montana. She didn't get the job, withdrawing because "she had been presented with other opportunities she couldn't pass up," one of them moving in with Baucus in Washington and taking a Justice Department job after being "awarded the position based solely on her merit."

Ms. Hanes' career has been on the upswing as she earned $126,541.50 in 2008, according to Senate records, mostly as Baucus' State Director/Senior Counsel, with a bit extra from advising the Senate Finance Committee, a distinct improvement from the $53,999.88 she drew down in 2004 as his full-time Field Director/Counsel.

But with trillions at stake, why should Americans care about such loose change and any insinuations about loose behavior on the part of one Senator? Is Baucus trying to head off political blackmail about his personal life and, if so, isn't that reprehensible on the part of those who oppose him?

As a dear, dear friend of health care lobbyists, Baucus is not admired as the enemy of the public option, but his sudden need to defend behavior at the conjunction of his personal and political lives has a distinct bad odor about it.

Whether or not the Senator from Big Pharma country did anything wrong is a matter for Congress' ethics machinery, but the timing is very peculiar indeed. He has more important work to do at the moment.

1 comment:

Fuzzy Slippers said...

Well, it seems he's going to make what we once called "an honest woman" of his mistress, so at least we have that. It's all just silliness, I think. Again, let's leave our pols' private lives private, unless they aren't (you know) paying their taxes or happen to be communists cloaked in progressive regalia or hang out with racists who hate America and fanatics who bomb the Pentagon. Stuff like that I care about. Who Baucus is bopping . . . not so much.