video of Montana Sen. Max Baucus delivering a heated, poorly enunciated speech on the Senate floor is making the rounds online and causing some (mostly conservative) bloggers to suggest that the Democratic health care leader was inebriated at the time. The address, directed at colleague Roger Wicker (R, Miss), was part of the Senate's extended debate of the health reform bill, which ultimately passed on a party-line vote. Baucus has issued a statement calling the suggestion he was intoxicated an "untrue, personal smear" by Republicans intent on shifting the focus away from the health care bill's passage. Are the insinuations dirty politics, or did Baucus bring this on himself? (See video below)
This is just a partisan smear against Baucus: Reasonable people — which excludes Republicans eager to humiliate any Democrat for partisan reasons — can agree that "Baucus was not 'slurring' or 'drunk' or 'slobbering,'" says Zennie Abraham in the San Francisco Chronicle. "Otherwise he could not have got off such a great blast against Wicker." Clearly, the "man was just plain tired and really angry" after having put up with some many dirty tricks by GOP senators desperately trying to derail the bill.
"Senator Max Baucus not drunk on Senate floor"
He had good reason to be drinking — he's about to lose his job: Obviously, Baucus is not the first senator to be "drunk during a debate," says Patrick McCain at RightPundits. But what is interesting about this case is that by providing "the decisive 60th vote in the Senate" for health reform, Baucus knows he's "probably kissed his career goodbye in the process" — after all, Montana is a conservative state whose citizens don't like the "enormous financial burdens" in the Democratic bill. Baucus' slurring speech is "the obvious tell-tale signs of a man who has nothing more to lose."
"Senator Max Baucus Drunk"
This whole debate is despicable: That this has even become a story at respectable news outlets is "bizarre," says David Weigel at The Washington Independent. "It’s like one of those photos that catches a celebrity at a bad angle and is run in the National Enquirer as proof that So-and-So has ballooned to 200 pounds. Actually, it’s sillier than that, because Baucus talks like this all the time." Suggesting without evidence that he was drunk on the job is "shameful, and I’m flabbergasted at the number of journalists who are doing it."
"BREAKING: Max Baucus mumbles occasionally"
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