Smith: a moderate? bah!

In today's Oregonian, letter-writer Bob Schlesinger reacts to the Oregonian's ridiculous thumb-sucking profile of Senator Gordon Smith last week:

If I see one more article in The Oregonian that lavishes praise upon Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore., for being a moderate, I am going to hurl. Smith is no moderate. As even Jeff Kosseff's article ("Smith stands for beliefs on middle ground," Aug. 22) points out, Smith voted with right-wing Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist 80 percent of the time.

Smith voted with GOP conservatives 92 percent, 89 percent and 82 percent of the time in 2003, 2004 and 2005, respectively (according to Congressional Quarterly). Also, the Christian Coalition gave Smith a high 83 percent rating for 2003 and 2004. The National Right to Life Committee gave him a 91 for the same years. These are not middle-of-the-road organizations.

Smith's record on health care? He voted against the Patient's Bill of Rights. He voted against extending the deadline for the confusing Medicare prescription drug plan that penalizes mostly poor seniors with a financial penalty.

Smith's "middle ground" masquerade fools no one except perhaps The Oregonian.

Discuss.

Comments

  • Dave Lister (unverified)
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    My question would be: How does Gordon Smith's record of voting along Republican lines compare to Wyden's record of voting along democratic lines. Is it significantly different?

  • a real moderate (unverified)
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    quoting the oregonian:

    The senator quickly dismisses Democratic criticism of his votes.

    "I've beaten them more than they've beaten me," he says. "The Democratic Party is not my constituency. These are people that believe in socialism. I don't."

    wtf?

    how is it moderate to refer to your opposing party as socialists??? this is absurd.

  • (Show?)

    It's different because Wyden doesn't pretend at the idea of being some kind of fence-sitting moderate, Dave. Smith wants everyone to believe he's right down the middle--but when told to jump by Bill Frist, he asks how high. And The O abets it and applauds it, every time.

  • (Show?)

    Smith has been another rubber stamp for the Bush administration's agenda. He voted to confirm the author of the administration's torture policy as our Attorney General after Gonzales's role in that ongoing destruction of America's good name well known. This is not a moderate.

    Let's see if the Oregonain gives equal time to publish free and unchallenged campaign ads for other candidates.

  • Dave Lister (unverified)
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    Thanks Torridjoe. I appreciate your perspective.

  • (Show?)

    Good for Bob on calling the Oregonian on their buttkissing of Senator Smith. I happen to feel the same way.

  • Jon (unverified)
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    wow...about as believeable as Westlund or Gordley as Independents...

    I really wish politicians would fess up and be who they are, not what they think they need to be to get elected. Im sick of the whole lot of 'em.

  • Garrett (unverified)
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    When has the Oregonian ever been good about reporting facts? How many times does the biggest newspaper in the state have to get scooped by the little free guys (Willy Week, Tribune, even the Mercury) before they figure out their problems? That train wreck of a website they have doesn't help any either. I think that their editors are told what to report and when to report it by their bosses out of state. I saw better reporting at the Salt Lake Tribune in conservative Utah. At least when they had a Republican Representative who had anger management issues (Merril Cook) they reported what was going on in his office. How many stories does the Oregonian print about the stuff Gordo has taken from lobbyists including Jack Abramoff?

  • dyspeptic (unverified)
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    Anytime you put human needs ahead of profit you are being a socialist. Therefore be proud of it. Smith's "I beat them therefore I'm good," says everything that needs to be said about him. As for the Oregonian, the way you know they are lying is that there is print on the page.

  • 17yearoldwithanopinion (unverified)
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    I noticed how the article on Smith was all buttkissing while todays article on DeFazio had his opponent talking shit about him several times in the article for getting money to repair the bridges along I-5.

  • james Caird (unverified)
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    I think Jeff Kosseff's article -- albeit a lightwieght bit of fluff -- was actually pretty fair overall. Kosseff's article also included comments from Smith's critics. The problems were with the copy editor who packaged the story.

    It looks like there was a kickback deal with bonuses from the Smith camp for the number of times the editor could fit "middle ground" and "moderate" into the headline, subheads, photo caption, jump lines, etc., etc. (Take a good look at that story package and consider the myriad alternatives to shamelessly shilling Smith's "moderation."). That seems to be the ONLY idea the copy editor pulled from the story.

    It looks to me more like sloppy, slapped-together-in-a-hurry work rather than a partisan agenda.

    The headline: "Smith stands for beliefs on middle ground" is taking sides by making a statement of fact about an issue where there is much disagreement. That's inappropriate on the news pages ... journalism 101.

    Like others that have commented on this post, my favorite part of Jeff Kosseff's article is the graph near the end where Smith says Democrats and critics "believe in socialism."

    (We all know what kind of stigma the world "socialism" carries with it in this country).

    Yeah, that statement backs up the newspaper's myth about Smith's moderation. He's a moderate, bipartisan, middle-ground-seeker to the core -- if you're easily conned.

    The Oregonian has taken heat for promoting the myth of Smith's moderation. And the reaction to that criticism seems to be that the paper now goes overboard in promoting the myth of Smith's moderation. (Kinda like a big F.U. to critics). That's also inappropriate in a newspaper run by adults.

  • (Show?)

    The Oregonian's going to be off-the-hinges wingnuts until Fred Stickel AND Sandy Rowe are in the ground, plus the warranty on my new DieHard Gold truck battery (in time for fleeing Ernesto!). Remember, they didn't even endorse Clinton until the second term, and until very recently, they called themselves "Oregon's Republican Newspaper." Randall Terry could be editor-in-chief, and it would read about the same.

    But it's a good sign that folks are wising up to Smith's "November moderate" act. He's so smug, like he knows he's snowed the majority of people into believing that 'one of each is good for Oregon - it hedges our bets in the Senate.' I can't wait for him to get taken out.

    Until you vote Gordo out of office, and we all do our part to get the US Senate back, there's always going to be a risk that a truck overturns just south of Vale carrying nuclear waste to Yucca Mountain, or that fire takes out that whole area in the mountains between Detroit and Idanha because he didn't do enough for forests.

    The main thing you lose with Smith in the Senate is that extra vote for anything even remotely environmental, and for that reason, I would hope that OLCV, 1000 Friends, and Sierra Club at the LEAST are working full-time to get this guy out of our collective consciousness.

    Good luck - I've hated Gordon Smith for years.

  • Jey (unverified)
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    Yea, Smith is a hardcore rightie for sure and the Oregonian should be ashamed of this lame non-factual reporting, but then again, just look at their website. Smith misrepresented his moderation!

    He's totaly disatached from Oregon values as exibited by his voting record. Oh, and just try to get a call into anyone in his office- it used to be they answered quite frequently, but not so as of the past year, Smug is spot on.

    I agree that The Oregonian now goes overboard in promoting the myth of Smith's moderation. What a bunch of Hacks!

  • Les Conner (unverified)
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    No less an authority than the director of Families USA (the leading national organization advocating for health care coverage for low income citizens) acknowledged Smith as the key Senator nationally on Medicaid funding. If I'm not mistaken, BlueOregon's own Chuck Shekitoff (no right wing lackey) also acknowledged Smith's leadership on health care issues also in the article.

    Instead of blind partisanship I would really like to see some intelligent, objective discussion. Quite frankly, Smith has surprised and impressed me with his moderation on many issues that are important to me (health care just being one). He is a member of the Finance Committee (which has primary responsibility for both Medicaid and Medicare) and he chairs the Senate Committee on Aging. The guy is acquiring clout and using it well on these key committees. Why would we want to trade this out for a freshman Senator with no senority or clout?

  • LT (unverified)
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    No less an authority than the director of Families USA (the leading national organization advocating for health care coverage for low income citizens) acknowledged Smith as the key Senator nationally on Medicaid funding. If I'm not mistaken, BlueOregon's own Chuck Shekitoff (no right wing lackey) also acknowledged Smith's leadership on health care issues also in the article.

    Since his days as St. Sen. President, there has been a Gordon Bright and Dark--the statesman does really admirable things, but then there is the right winger, the inconsiderate man.

    That last was pointed out to me by a relative who said "if he had any manners, he would have agreed to debate sitting down" in the last election, given that Bradbury couldn't stand up that long.

    Gordon has done some really good things. Gordon has done some really partisan things. But Chris Shays or Lincoln Chaffee, he ain't.

    Smith voted with GOP conservatives 92 percent, 89 percent and 82 percent of the time in 2003, 2004 and 2005, respectively (according to Congressional Quarterly). Also, the Christian Coalition gave Smith a high 83 percent rating for 2003 and 2004. The National Right to Life Committee gave him a 91 for the same years. These are not middle-of-the-road organizations. doesn't strike me as validating the very broad phrase HE IS A MODERATE.

    No, he does what is convenient. Sometimes he has stood up to what Ed Schultz calls "the righties", sometimes he seems lock step GOP.

    And about this comment: "Instead of blind partisanship I would really like to see some intelligent, objective discussion.", recall how Gordon was elected to the US Senate. In January 1996, the "we're all real tired of career politicians" ads didn't work, and from all reporting Gordon & friends did a total re-think before he ran for the full term.

    The Dem. nominee wasn't politically experienced, just the darling of the DSCC. Often quoted as "Bruggere had no specific plan to offer" whenever there was a policy discussion. One friend of mine who did vote D but had a relative who introduced me to the 3rd party candidate I supported (knowing full well that a state senator with a voting record was better than giving a blank slate a 6 year term after a campaign where he refused to discuss issues)described that election as "the thin one vs. the chinless one". Look up the results--the 3rd party candidates (who had a lot more substantive debate among themselves and a lot more fun campaigning) did what was done in the January campaign. We have 2 US Senators who were only elected by a margin of victory smaller than the 3rd party vote.

    Let that be a lesson to those contemplating who will run against Gordon in '08. If the campaign is no more exciting or inspiring than the Gov. campaign is this year, Gordon will probably have another term.

    However, if the excitement of the Westlund campaign (or earlier, the excitement of the Howard Dean supporters) could be matched on a 2008 US Senate challenge (by anyone) then Gordon may be in trouble. Too many times there have been people who supported him on one issue, only to be disappointed by Gordon on another issue. That isn't partisan. That is just the same sort of thing that happens all over.

  • a real moderate (unverified)
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    dyspeptic,

    well, in this country a republican calling his opponent a socialist is a smear akin to a dem calling his opponent a facist. now even though our current system more closely resembles facism (the soft, cuddly kind... for now), i didn't see wyden calling republicans facists.

    smith never saw a corporate handout he didn't like.

  • James Caird (unverified)
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    Smith wouldn't have needed to go to bat for health care by fighting off budget cuts to those programs if he hadn't marched in lockstep with the most fiscally irresponsible administration in our history.

    Smith supported the irresponsible policies that created the deficts that made proposed cuts to poor folks' health care necessary. Those programs wouldn't have needed "saving" by Smith if he hadn't helped creat the problem in the first place.

    An honest man would accept responsibility for creating the deficits that endanger those programs rather than simply trying to take credit for "saving" them from a situtation he and his conservative goose-steppers created in the first place.

    It follows then, that I don't think Gordon Smith is honest. And that's why you trade a senator with clout for a freshman senator with integrity.

  • Jon (unverified)
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    and until very recently, they called themselves "Oregon's Republican Newspaper."

    Very recently being what? A few decades ago? Please cite something to back this up. I have never heard or read that until today.

  • Garrett (unverified)
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    Jon, The first endorsement of a Democrat they EVER made was Clinton's second term. They endorsed Bush over Gore in 2000 but did endorse Kerry in 2004. Considering it was founded in 1850 I think that their record speaks for themselves. 2 endorsements of a Democrat since 1850 doesn't exactly scream bipartisan.

  • John Staples (unverified)
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    The Oregonian has some good reporters, but their editorial board and headline writers are decidedly, consistently, and unfortunately very consevative. (It's one of those things that makes the "liberal media" critique just an outdated silly whiny talking point.)

    Thr headline writers are the most importantly biased -- and it was the headline they wrote in the Smith piece that was so clearly ridiculous. There have been so many examples of this. Highlighting governmental mistake without highlighting corporate waste. I remember when Kitzhaber proposed a balanced budget package -- and the headline said "Kitzhaber proposes tax increase."

    Watch the Oregonian headline writer{s} -- right wing operative(s).

  • (Show?)

    I disagree with TorridJoe -- Wyden tries to have it both ways too, sells his "bipartisanship" a lot for certain purposes. Wyden is actually a major prop for Smith's claim to moderation, through participating in ostentatiously advertised joint ventures. Actually it would be interesting to have comparison figures about Wyden, though in both cases I'd like to see a wider range of interest group rankings.

    The Oregonian was "Oregon's [actually Portland's] Republican Newspaper" for most of the period cited because it competed with a partisan Democrat paper, the Oregon Journal, which folded ca. 1980 or a little later, limping along in its last few years by virtue of being printed on the Oregonian's plant. And, of course, those party identities have changed a good deal, several times over, since 1850. Endorsing Democrats in the 1850s was endorsing slavery expansion everywhere in the country, for instance. I'd be mildly interested in who the O endorsed in 1912 (Roosevelt as ex-GOP "Progressive" or Taft), and more interested in views of how their editorial stance has evolved since they became the daily monopoly paper.

    <h2>One interesting thing about this is that the Journal, arguably a pro trade-union paper, was anyway much more open to pro-labor union voices than any major print outlet in Oregon today, which to my mind may actually be more significant than nominal party alignment.</h2>
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