On Saturday, Montana Sen. Steve Daines was one of 11 Republicans who announced their plans to object to the Electoral College results during Wednesday’s bicameral session of Congress. Twenty four hours later, the largest newspaper in his state absolutely eviscerated that decision.
“We believe this entire episode to be one of the saddest in our country’s political history,” wrote the Billings Gazette editorial board in an editorial published Sunday. “How unfortunate that you decided to play a leading role — in support of the insupportable. … This action, Senator, is political garbage disguised as statesmanship. It is beneath your office and should be beneath you.”
Which is, well, tough. And while it won’t change Daines’ mind — editorial boards have increasingly limited power to persuade either a politician or the public — it’s worth examining why the Gazette is so disappointed in Daines.
The key point of the editorial is that Daines (and the other Republican senators — including Texas Sen. Ted Cruz — who plan to object to the results) are basing their opposition to the Electoral College count not on hard evidence but on, as Paul Simon would say, “hints and allegations.”
As the Gazette editorial board wrote:
“The President and a few of his allies repeating endlessly his contentions of fraud with no evidence to back it up does not itself constitute evidence of anything. Now, the senators involved are using the ‘allegations’ in place of evidence.”
And indeed, in the joint statement put out by Daines, Cruz and the other senators, they never actually say that there are facts or proof that the election was anything but above-board.
There’s this (bolding is mine): “The 2020 election, however, featured unprecedented allegations of voter fraud, violations and lax enforcement of election law, and other voting irregularities.”
And this: “By any measure, the allegations of fraud and irregularities in the 2020 election exceed any in our lifetimes.”