Defending Melodee Hanes

By Beacon Staff

Kate Dailey at Newsweek defends Montana Sen. Baucus’ nomination of his girlfriend Melodee Hanes for U.S. attorney. The gist of Dailey’s argument: Hanes is qualified for the position and the fact that she is in a relationship with Baucus doesn’t change her professional resume.

People dating those in power often don’t get more breaks. Instead, they get accusing glances from co-workers, extreme scrutiny of their work, and the unfair assumption that all their talent must be centered between their legs, not their ears.

That’s too bad, because here’s the reality: smart, ambitious people are attracted to other smart, ambitious people, often in the same field. And sometimes, the best person for the job also happens to be the person on the other side of the bed. Once you get to a certain professional level, the pools of both qualified candidates and qualified paramours gets smaller, and they often overlap. And in Helena, Mont., you have to imagine that the pool is very small indeed.

In a separate story, Hanes’ colleagues, including her former boss Yellowstone County Attorney Dennis Paxinos, a Republican, back up Dailey’s argument that Hanes is qualified for the job.

During the nominating process, Baucus reportedly asked a third party who was unaware of the couple’s relationship to vet six candidates. Hanes’ name and two others emerged and were then submitted to the White House – although Hanes eventually withdrew from consideration.

Baucus can still be charged with cronyism. But perhaps Hanes should be given a little more credit. She is a highly skilled attorney, not just the senator’s girlfriend.