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In the past I have often thought that we Montanans have been somewhat narrow by our strong preference for "native Montanans" in political offices. I have changed my mind. Consider for a moment Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke in his "cowboy" costume with his black hat on backwards uncomfortably riding his pinto Shetland-cross pony in a parade in Washington, D.C. In a desperate attempt to fit in as one of us, he managed to shame and embarrass, if not himself, our entire state's cultural heritage.

Candidate Matt Rosendale has managed to continue or even surpass Zinke's unfortunate example. In a failed attempt to mask his native East Coast accent, he has attempted to modify his speech in order to replicate that of John Wayne, Sam Elliott or, heaven forbid, Montana's own Gary Cooper. He came to Eastern Montana, and bought what he considered a qualification for public office, a ranch. It turns out, however, that what he paid several million dollars for is not a ranch, but something he is more familiar with, a potential subdivision. I doubt that Rosendale knows which end of a cow eats grass. He leases his real estate to a real rancher.

For whatever reason, if a cowboy gives up his lifetime occupation and moves to town, he is said to have "sold his saddle." I don't know if Rosendale has, or had, a saddle, but even though he tried to purchase some Western credibility by purchasing a sizable tract of land, he is a phony rather than a Montana rancher. We are familiar with the label “All hat, no cattle.” There is a similar one, “All land and no cattle.” Rosendale does not own even one cow. In fact, he had a registered cattle brand, but let it expire.

Wallace D. McRae


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