In the weeks after Montana’s U.S. Sen. Jon Tester was sworn in, our e-mail inbox was stuffed with Google News alerts full of kudos, admirations and aspirations for the big guy from Big Sandy. Bloggers and newspaper and radio reporters fawned over the man NPR called a “straight-talking, tractor-riding prairie populist, who pledged to make the U.S. Senate look a little more like Montana.”
But some supporters, disgruntled over Tester’s recent vote to reauthorize funding for the Iraq War, are peeling away. Under the terms of the war-spending bill vetoed by the president last month, troops would have started coming home July 1. On the bill’s second go-around, the troop-withdrawal language was stripped out and Tester voted for it anyway.
Some netroots bloggers now increasingly refer to Tester’s six months in office as a “disappointment,” and a T-shirt and poster popping up in Helena suggests the honeymoon is over at home, too.
The poster features Tester’s flat-topped mug, circled and slashed in red. “War has many casualties,” the accompanying text reads, “some are only broken hearts…” That’s followed by a “Dear Jon” letter that reads: “Since you left for Washington, I feel like a woman scorned. I don’t love you any more. STOP Mr. Bush’s war NOW. Save lives and save hearts.”
A Tester spokesman hadn’t seen the T-shirts or posters, and immediately directed us back to our inbox, where we found a fresh news release from the senator’s office.
On Tuesday, Tester stood on the steps of the Montana Capitol and outlined a plan for bringing troops home from Iraq. In the most powerful plank of his platform, Tester promised to support an Oct. 11 resolution that will deauthorize the war. His statement stopped short of calling for an immediate troop withdrawal or cutting off funding for the war, a move most anti-war Americans say they support.
And while Tester seemed to be responding to the wishes of his most fervent supporters from last year’s election, it’s not likely to be enough for some.
“I feel like a husband whose wife cheated on him and expects to be forgiven,” says Marty Lord, the Helena artist who created the anti-Tester gear (and once designed campaign signs for Tester).
What Lord is unwilling to accept is the excuse that political realities in Washington, D.C. don’t allow for cut-and-dried positions on Iraq. The honeymoon may be over, but Tester’s statement shows his heart’s still in the right place. We think this marriage can be saved.