One of the more amusing moments of the epic Senate battle between now-U.S. Sen. John Thune and then-Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle in 2004 occurred in a South Dakota corn field.
Desperate to reconnect as a true South Dakotan after 26 years in Congress, Daschle filmed a television ad during pheasant season of him traipsing through a field, gun in hand, wearing a brand new hunting outfit he obviously bought just for the filming. The ad was met with derision by South Dakota’s formidable hunting community.
There were many reasons Thune won that historic election but I have always felt this miscue by Daschle cut pretty deeply because it dripped with hypocrisy and insincerity.
This bit of Senate campaign history came to mind as I watched U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet’s new ad where he talks about his support of public lands which is an important issue in every major election in Colorado and which should be debated by the candidates. But Bennet just couldn’t resist pulling a Daschle-like stunt by showing him fly fishing in a lame attempt to convey he was an accomplished fly fisherman.
Much like Daschle’s one-day donning of his brand new hunting outfit, Bennet bought a one-day fishing license to film his ad. At least there were no price tags to snip off the one-day fishing license.
Maybe Bennet’s next ad will be a fictional portrayal of him as a young boy in his native Washington, D.C. fishing off the 14th Street Bridge on the Potomac River in bare feet while wearing a straw hat.
But Bennet’s hypocrisy goes way beyond his one-day fly fishing license.
Bennet routinely condemns “corporate interests” and pledges to never accept political contributions from what he clearly considers as evil corporate entities.
But he legally launders “corporate” contributions into his campaign by accepting money from political action committees that raise huge amounts of corporate money which are then given to incumbent senators like Bennet.
His condemnation of corporate interests is especially ironic since he became a very wealthy man working for one of Colorado’s more prominent and respected corporate entities.
During his brief and inconsequential run for president in 2020, Bennet was the third-wealthiest Democratic candidate. News reports at the time pegged his net worth at $15 million.
Poor Sen. Bennet. I’m sure he could not wait to shower the corporate stink off his body after a long day of working for his corporate employer.
If corporate money is so evil, he should not only rid himself of the corporate money he legally launders into his campaign, he should disabuse himself of the millions of dollars of corporate money that made him very wealthy.
Meanwhile, after 14 years in the Senate, Bennet has little to show for all that time. The “accidental senator” was handed a Senate seat in 2009 by Gov. Bill Ritter when U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar resigned. Since then, he has been elected to the Senate twice after his Republican opponents allowed him to win elections he should have lost.
His singular legislative achievement appears to be the child care tax credit he successfully sponsored. But when the credit expired, he failed to get it extended despite the fact his Democratic Party controlled the presidency along with majorities in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives. He could not even get his own side of the partisan aisle to stand with him.
Bennet’s political twin brother, U.S. Sen. John Hickenlooper, has recently been credited for getting U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia to support the comically named “Inflation Reduction Act” that will not reduce inflation but which will increase taxes and regulations on middle-class taxpayers and small businesses, and it will be enforced by 86,000 new IRS agents.
Bennet, who has been in the Senate 12 years longer than Hickenlooper, apparently played no significant role in passing the bill other than adding yet another vote to his record of supporting the doddering President Joe Biden 98 percent of the time.
Bennet must have been too busy counting the corporate contributions to his campaign and his millions of dollars of personal wealth derived from working for a corporation.
Dick Wadhams is a former Colorado Republican state chairman who managed U.S. Sen. John Thune’s campaign in 2004.