"I was wrong. It wasn't the first time, and it won't be the last."
--from an editorial on Butch Otter's Web site, www.otter4idaho.com
Behold Butch Otter's about-face on Sen. Tom Tancredo's proposed bill to sell 15 percent of federal lands in order to raise money for emergency relief. Otter initially co-sponsored the bill, and faced criticism from both his opponent, Democrat Jerry Brady, and from some prominent Idaho Fish and Game officials. In his editorial, Otter maintained his previous stance that the federal government's "reach simply exceeds its grasp" in public lands, that it has more land than it can reasonably handle, and that counties and communities get "shortchanged" as a result. On the other hand, he conceded that this particular bill "isn't the answer" ... for a never-specified reason. Otter also thanked the people who had expressed their concerns to him over the issue--and in particular, he singled out what he called the "thoughtful and responsible approach of" the archconservative sportsman's coalition Idaho Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, which is led by former Larry Craig Natural Resources Field Coordinator Nate Helm.
In no time, Democrats responded to Otter's apology. Idaho Democratic Chairman Richard Stallings said that despite the contrition, "Butch Otter still doesn't get it ... It's too bad that Idahoans have to threaten his job to get him to listen to them." Otter's turnabout, he said, was simply an attempt to "make this issue go away before the election season." Well, duh!