Thursday, August 23, 2012

GOP Senate canidate Michael Baumgartner is a flake

WA state Sen Michael Baumgartner
Washington state Senator Michael Baumgartner is the Republican nominee for US Senate who will challenge Democratic incumbent Maria Cantwell.

He also appears to be emotionally unstable with or without a substance abuse problem.

As is so often the case these days, It all started with Todd Akin.  Baumgartner is on record opposing abortion in cases of rape.  Baumgartner harshly condemned Akin, joining a chorus of Republicans condemning Akin despite the fact that they share Akin's view.

Seattle Met magazine reporter Josh Feit has a regular feature called "One Question" that - predictably - asks public figures one question.  Feit asked Baumgartner how his position on abortion differed from that of Akin.  In the story Feit wrote, he quoted Baumgartner extensively,
“I have empathy for the victims of rape. Rape is a tragedy. It’s a terrible thing. Certainly, we need to give victims all the help we can. There is no place in politics for uttering something so ignorant about pregnancy and rape.”

As for Baumgartner’s own position: “”I am still a Catholic. I still believe life begins at conception. That is consistent with my Catholic beliefs. And I believe we must protect life.”  Concluding that he wanted a truce in the culture wars and his campaign was about jobs and ending the war in Afghanistan, he said: “The culture wars are not why I’m in the state senate or running against my opponent. I’m pragmatic. I objected to the expansion of abortion services, but I voted for two budgets that funded [family planning] services.”
Despite the fact that Baumgartner never in fact answered the question, Feit allowed him to get in a dig, “Whenever abortion comes up, we get questioned about the exceptions, but no one ever questions the extreme positions on the other side, late-term abortions, no on parental notification.”

In the story, Feit did point out that Baumgartner did not answer the question and reported  Baumgartner's position opposing abortion in cases of rape.

This is when it get's interesting, and maybe a little creepy.   Late Monday night Feit received an email from Baumgartner's personal email account forwarding a photo of an armed Baumgartner and another very heavily armed man.  The email in its entirety read: "Josh, this is Pat Feeks, a Navy SEAL killed last week in Afghanistan. Take a good look and then go fuck yourself."

Feit responded to the email, "Is this really Sen. Baumgartner?"   Baumgartner did not reply but later acknowledged that he did send the email but thought it was "a private conversation".  Baumgartner apologized and said he was frustrated because his platform of ending the war in Afghanistan was not getting attention.  Except that as you can see from the above quote, Feit did include Baumgatner's Afghan position as well as his frustration with the culture war, neither of which had anything to do with the question put to Baumgartner -- the question Baumgartner never answered.

This doesn't speak well of the character and emotional maturity of someone who wants to be promoted to the U.S. Senate. Even assuming Baumgartner was mourning the loss of a friend, that loss had nothing to do with the story written by Josh Feit.  The story that allowed Baumgartner to duck the question, restate what he wanted to talk about and take a culture war shot at Democrats while decrying the culture war.

Baumgartner's acknowledgment of the email came only after he tried to duck responsibility and even hung up the phone on Feit when he called Tuesday for comment.  Baumgartner only acknowledged the email after Feit published it on Tuesday.  Baumgartner then falsely suggested that the email was a part of some private conversation suggesting that Feit had violated an 'off the record' agreement. Lastly, Feit had to read about the apology -- such that it was -- in the newspaper because Baumgartner wouldn't speak to him.

This is an unstable and childish man who has no business in the U.S. Senate.  Sadly, he will fit right into the Republican caucus.

On Baumgartner's suggestion that his email to Feit was "private" Politico's Dylan Byers offers some advice:
An important note to political candidates everywhere: When you email a reporter out of the blue in response to his article, that is on the record unless otherwise stated. Especially if you tell the reporter to "go f--k yourself."
All of this, by the way, could have been avoided if Baumgartner had not taken a gratuitous and hypocritical shot at Todd Akin.   

NOTE: The original title to this post called Baumgartner  "unhinged".  That was too strong.

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