Thursday, December 20, 2012

Schweitzer turns an enemy into a not-quite-as-much-an-enemy

As Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer, a Democrat and potential '16 candidate, says goodbye to his two-term stay in the governor's mansion, The Great Falls Tribune has a particularly good look at his legacy.

One glaring point -- the guy absolutely infuriated his GOP opponents.

Not because they were necessarily so hostile to his agenda, but because he was continually theatrical and nearly always won the argument, or -- let me rephrase: "Nearly always won the headline."

But a few old foes can't help but admire him these days (in the way you only can once the enemy is leaving, and you don't have to deal with him anymore). 

“I have great admiration for the way Brian Schweitzer has gone through is term in office. The state is in great shape right now,” said former Republican Senate president and 2012 lieutenant governor-candidate Bob Keenan of Bigfork.

Those words, coming from Keenan, might cause some Montana political observers to do a double take. After all, Keenan — who served as GOP Senate minority leader in the 2005 Legislature, Schweitzer’s first session after taking office — was one of the governor’s earliest and most vocal critics.

.... “He really has done well,” Keenan said. “I think he’s gotten away with a lot, but he has done a lot of good things. He’s a smart man, I don’t think there’s anybody that would disagree that he is a brilliant politician.”

Here's his most famous moment -- using a branding iron to veto GOP legislation.