Steve Novick, the "Attack on Merkley," and "the Courage of President George W. Bush"

By Steve Novick of Portland, Oregon. Steve is a Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate. Learn more at NovickForSenate.com

Hi. My name is Steve Novick and I’m running for the United States Senate. And I’d like to respond to Sunday’s post that described me as "attacking" Jeff Merkley.

As you know, I have focused my fire in this campaign on Gordon Smith, and will continue to do so. But this is a contested primary, and at the end of the day, Oregon Democrats will need to know that I am a better candidate and will be a better Senator than Jeff Merkley.

I think Jeff Merkley is a good guy, has been a good Speaker, and would be a good Senator. But I intend to be a great Senator. One of the reasons I will be a great Senator is that I will denounce Republican demagogic garbage, in no uncertain terms, at every turn, regardless of political risk. I think that many Oregon Democrats would like to have such a Senator, and such a candidate. I think that many Democrats, in Oregon and elsewhere, have spent much of the past six years fuming because too few of their leaders spoke out forcefully against Republican demagoguery.

In voting for the resolution reproduced below, Jeff Merkley missed a chance to show that he is the kind of guy who will denounce Republican demagoguery at every turn. That doesn’t make him a bad guy. It doesn’t change the fact that he’s a heck of a lot better than Gordon Smith. But it does distinguish him from me.

The full text of the resolution – and I do think it is important to look at the full text - reads as follows:

Whereas the dictatorship of Iraq has continued to develop weapons of mass destruction in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1441; and

Whereas the dictator Saddam Hussein has demonstrated a willingness to use weapons of mass destruction against neighboring nations and the citizens of Iraq; and

Whereas Saddam Hussein threatens the Middle East and the global economy with the threat to use weapons of mass destruction; now, therefore,

Be It Resolved by the House of Representatives of the State of Oregon:

That we, the members of the House of Representatives of the Seventy-second Legislative Assembly:

(1) Acknowledge the courage of President George W. Bush, the President's cabinet and the men and women of the Armed Forces of the United States, and express our support for the victorious removal of Saddam Hussein from power; and

(2) Praise the courage, dedication, professionalism and sacrifices of the men and women of the Armed Forces of the United States in the defense of freedom.

That is not merely a resolution ‘supporting the troops.’ That is a resolution reciting the Bush Administration’s rationale for the war and describing the war as the product of "the courage of President George W. Bush." Yes, it also happens to have a sentence praising the troops. But are we, as Democrats, going to take the position that it is OK to support any piece of Republican garbage, as long as it has a sentence saying "We support the troops"?

I know it was "only a nonbinding resolution." But if nonbinding votes on Iraq are meaningless, why did the 2007 House, led by Jeff Merkley, pass HJM 9 , opposing the troop escalation? If you take the position that that HR 2 was meaningless, you have to think HJM 9 was as well – which means that you think Speaker Merkley’s sponsorship of that memorial was a waste of the taxpayers’ time. Personally, I think that every vote, binding or not, is an opportunity to express your true beliefs.

So I say again: I think that the vote on that resolution was a test of legislators’ tolerance for Republican garbage and their willingness to speak out against Republican garbage. (And also, perhaps, a test of their gag reflexes. Be honest, wouldn’t most of you have vomited before voting for that resolution?) And you may disagree with me, but I think that if two candidates are otherwise equal, we’re better off with a candidate and a Senator with a lower level of tolerance for Republican garbage.

I will also say this: If I were hit by a bus tomorrow, you would continue to hear about this resolution, from the Republicans. They are going to raise it every time that Speaker Merkley says anything about the war. "But Mr. Speaker, you agreed that Saddam Hussein threatened the Middle East and the global economy with weapons of mass destruction, didn’t you, and that’s why you supported the victorious removal of Saddam Hussein from power, right?" "No, I didn’t. I didn’t think Saddam Hussein was a threat." "Well, dear me, that really puzzles me, because I could have sworn that you voted for a resolution that said exactly that. You wouldn’t have voted for a resolution that you didn’t believe in, did you?" Anyone who thinks that a decision by Steve Novick to avoid talking about that resolution would mean they’d heard the last of it has his or her head firmly in the sand.

Comments

  • (Show?)

    Steve, I certainly believe that the primary is the exact place where candidates should highlight their differences, so that Democrats can make their decision. So no complaints from me about your pursuing this, if you feel it's important to voters.

    Yet I'm not sure this is exactly the strongest argument to make. Sure, the Republicans will try to bring this vote up. But if Mr. Merkley had voted "no", refusing to praise the "courage, dedication, professionalism, and sacrifices" of the troops, do you think they wouldn't bring that up? In fact, don't you think they'd bring it up even more?

    It's perfectly within the bounds of the primary debate to make the argument that voters are unable see through this kind of GOP rhetorical gamesmanship. I'm just not sure I believe it.

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    I really don't understand the purpose of this post. Is the reader supposed to believe you will be a better Senator than Speaker Merkley because you will throw more of a fit about nonbinding resolutions?

    I understand why Novick would not want to focus on substantive legislation--given Merkley's concrete history of sheparding a broad and aggressive legislative agenda that made Oregon better for Oregonians--but I don't understand why "vote for me and I will do a better job of raising a partisan stink" would sound like an appealing platform to someone with Novick's obvious intelligence and political judgment.

    We all know that Novick has loads of policy smarts. Isn't it a little insulting to Oregon Democrats that he then chooses to use his time communicating with primary voters to focus on GOP gotcha politics?

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    Here is a transcript of then Rep. Jeff Merkley's floor speach on HR 2 during the 2003 Legislative Session.

    Rep. Jeff Merkley Floor Speech on House Resolution 2 (As Delivered) March 21, 2003

    Colleagues, I have not been and am not today persuaded that Iraq was a significant threat to the United States or that the war we fight today is the best strategy to fight terrorism or the wisest application of our superpower resources. But that is a conversation or a debate for another day.

    Today I rise to praise our young men and women serving our nation at great personal risk. Today we are not Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal; we are Americans concerned about the safety and support of our troops.

    I praise our sons and daughters – their courage, their professionalism. I pray now that the fighting will be brief; that the casualties on both sides will be sparse; that international aid to rebuild Iraq will be swift and abundant; that the terrorist repercussions will be few or none; and that there will be a new Iraqi government soon that will rule with wisdom and will provide the opportunity and freedoms for every Iraqi citizen to survive.

    May that be the outcome.

    <h3></h3>
  • Urban Planning Overlord (unverified)
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    My question for Steve Novick (and for Jeff Merkley too, for that matter) is:

    Do you support widening and broadening NAFTA, free trade agreements with Peru and Panama, and additional free trade agreements with other Latim American countries, without deal-killing environmental and labor riders, or do you, along with the Democratic candidates for President, ignore the mountain of economic evidence that such deals are good for all parties involved in your rush to pander to protectionist and anti-globalization demagogues and extremists within the Democratic party?

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    Wow, U.P.L. You don't make it hard to guess what you think the "right" answer is, do you?

    As someone who agrees that outright protectionism is bad, I wonder exactly what you consider a environmental and labor riders to be "deal killing". Killed by whom? Democrats? Or plutocrats?

    I am in favor of free trade agreements that help push first world standards of labor and environmental protections into the third world. I am not in favor of free trade agreements that import third world plutocracy and misery into first world countries, like the United States.

  • East Bank Thom (unverified)
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    I pray now that the fighting will be brief; that the casualties on both sides will be sparse; that international aid to rebuild Iraq will be swift and abundant; that the terrorist repercussions will be few or none; and that there will be a new Iraqi government soon that will rule with wisdom and will provide the opportunity and freedoms for every Iraqi citizen to survive.

    This is why faith-based legislating just doesn't work.

  • (Show?)

    Steve,

    Thanks for clearing the air as to what your position is. I happen to agree with you, but I'm sure that there are those who disagree with you on this issue who will also appreciate the more fleshed-out explanation.

  • BlueNote (unverified)
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    Am I the only person who is sick and tired of hearing about politicians who "support the troops" but "oppose the war"? That is the excuse used by our Democrat controlled Congress as they continue to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on the Iraq war. Money that could be used right here in the USA to build roads, bridges, schools, libraries, low income medical clinics and a thousand other things. I wish no harm to come to any American serviceman or woman, but quit spending my grandchildren's share of the American dream to support "the troops". Bring them home now, make it possible for them to have decent educations, family wage jobs, affordable health care, and decent retirements. That is my definition of "support".

  • (Show?)
    I don't understand why "vote for me and I will do a better job of raising a partisan stink" would sound like an appealing platform to someone with Novick's obvious intelligence and political judgment.

    You don't see the obvious disappointment with a Democratic Congress that has refused to raise much of a partisan stink these last six years? Americans--not just Democrats, but as much as a fourth of Republicans--want Congress to fight administrative overreach and the triumph of lies. The resolution was a lie wrapped in a flag. I want to know which candidate can unwrap the flag and expose the box of shit underneath.

  • (Show?)

    Sometimes there is just no substitute for raising hell.

    I prefer to be represented by someone who knows when that is.

  • trishka (unverified)
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    bluenote, thank you. no, you're not the only one.

  • This is totally weak (unverified)
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    Personally, I think that every vote, binding or not, is an opportunity to express your true beliefs.
    That shows a real lack of experience in the legislative process. Personally, I believe every floor speech or written statement is an opportunity to express your true beliefs. Every vote is an opportunity to express the beliefs of the person who wrote the bill.
  • Ed Bickford (unverified)
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    Steve's is a weak argument, easily made well after the fact. He failed to mention that the resolution was made in March 2003, when the ill-advised invasion got underway. It is easy to say now, fully informed by 20-20 hindsight, that one would stand against the inevitable hurricane-force backlash due at the time to anyone repudiating the troops' mission.

    I wish Steve well in his run, but I expect better than this.

  • (Show?)

    As for "supporting the troops..."

    A lot of this gratuitous posturing originates in the myth that returning Vietnam veterans were spat upon. While it is certainly true that some veterans of any war will have a bad experience upon returning from the front, a 1971 Harris poll found that 94% of Vietnam veterans reported a positive experience at homecoming.

    Everybody supports the troops. Some of us just wish they didn't have to BE "troops," so they could just be young Americans living their lives among their families and friends.

  • LT (unverified)
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    Steve, as I understand it, you are saying that you would not have voted for a HR which 5 members voted against (and 11 were excused) and therefore you would make a better US Senator.

    Not because of how you would vote or speak out on on federal legislation, Congressional resolutions, presidential appointments, treaties brought to the US Senate for approval--just how you would have voted differently in a charged political atmosphere in the Oregon House in 2003. You weren't there as a member, but by golly you know how you would have voted!

    Brian Boquist gave a great speech on HJM 9 this past session in which he supported withdrawing US troops from Iraq, and said "support the troops" wasn't about rhetoric or car magnets, but such things as hot meals and cold drinks, equipment fit for the mission (not wide vehicles to patrol narrow streets, for instance), veterans benefits, etc.

    There may be Republicans who try to bring up the 2003 vote as an issue, but will it resonate? There are many Oregonians who know someone who has been deployed overseas (once or more than once). Steve, how do you know that Boquist's speech doesn't resonate with those Oregonians more than the GOP consultants who try to use an old vote on a symbolic resolution? Can you really look into the minds of every Oregonian who is currently registered Dem. or might do so before next May? Or is it that you have defined your target audience and are only speaking to them?

    And Steve, where do you stand on veterans issues? Do you support Cong. Hooley's efforts? Sen. Murray's efforts? Or are you too busy trying to make a big deal about a primary opponent's symbolic vote to care about such real life concerns of Oregonians?

    Too those looking for an effective problem solver in the US Senate, and not just someone great on rhetoric, why would such people be impressed by your statement,

    " I will denounce Republican demagogic garbage, in no uncertain terms, at every turn, regardless of political risk".

    I once had a prof. at WOU who said (more than 10 years after Morse's death) that he believed Packwood beat Wayne Morse in 1968 because Morse's rantings had become stale. You may not believe that, and in a recount situation there could have been any number of reasons why Morse lost.

    But the fact remains that not every registered Democrat is looking for someone who is more interested in denouncing than in solving problems.

  • (Show?)

    This entire "controversy" is contrived, inherently demagogic and a rank insult to the intelligence of Oregonians. Merkley made his position crystal clear, as lestatdelc demonstrates, and it is flat out dishonest to insinuate that he didn't or that he somehow flip-flopped.

    Please, feel free to disregard my point of view here. I am not a Democrat. I'm just one of those "nonaffiliated" voters which both parties have to have in order to win anything on a state-wide level. The stunningly self-evident display of partisan fratricide on display by Novick & company is indistinguishable from the kind of partisan fratricide I've seen Oregon Republicans practice as a matter of course. And it reminds me afresh why joining either party doesn't appeal to me in the slightest.

  • (Show?)

    A lot of this gratuitous posturing originates in the myth that returning Vietnam veterans were spat upon. While it is certainly true that some veterans of any war will have a bad experience upon returning from the front, a 1971 Harris poll found that 94% of Vietnam veterans reported a positive experience at homecoming. Everybody supports the troops.

    Stephanie,

    While I agree that spitting on returnees was rare to non-existent, we did not have a positive experience at homecoming. I doubt that you could find more than a handful of Vietnam vets that would say that today and I would question the content of that poll. Most of us would have shrugged and said, ya ok, to make the pollster go away. While being screamed at as baby killers was rare, it was common enough to make people dump the uniform as soon as we could. There were no parades, no welcome home events excepting small family gatherings. Some of us didn't even get that. Mostly we were just ignored.

  • (Show?)

    "Merkley made his position crystal clear"

    I'm baffled how "vote yes, explain no" is a crystal clear explanation.

    Also--- "It is easy to say now, fully informed by 20-20 hindsight, that one would stand against the inevitable hurricane-force backlash due at the time to anyone repudiating the troops' mission."

    Five of them did--and it appears they all survived the windstorm.

  • East Bank Thom (unverified)
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    "Personally, I believe every floor speech or written statement is an opportunity to express your true beliefs."

    Yup. kinda like how Bush 'splainifies with his signing statements...

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    John, I certainly wouldn't dispute your firsthand experience as a returning veteran, but I think we agree on the larger point.

    And TJ: yes, exactly. If the vote on the resolution had been unanimous, I would be much more receptive to the idea that it was somehow perceived as mandatory to accede to it.

    And if it was, as everyone seems to agree, just a symbolic Republican gambit ... then, as a voter, I think I am within my rights to say I'd rather vote for someone who doesn't vote for that kind of thing, but instead calls it out for what it is.

  • Faolan (unverified)
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    Whoever the coward who wrote under "This is Totally Weak" is, they share a fallacious opinion with anumber of other folks here on the boards and that is this:

    "Personally, I believe every floor speech or written statement is an opportunity to express your true beliefs."

    You guys are so totally wrong it's astounding that you pay attention to politics. Have any of you been really observing politics for the last 20 years?

    NOBODY cares about the politician's floor statement as to why they voted one way or the other. NOBODY. The only thing that people give a damn about is whether you voted 'yes' or 'no'. period.

    The fact is that Merkley voted 'YES' for something, giving a totally weak reason for doing so, that he AND EVERY OTHER DEMOCRAT should have voted 'NO' on. All he had to say was that:

    "of course I support the troops as does every one of my Democratic colleagues. To insinuate that we do not support the Soldiers, Marines, Seamen and Airman of our brave armed forces is ludicrous and in my opnion insulting. But I do not support this war nor do I support the policies of Mr. Bush .... etc. yada yada yada. and that is why I am voting against this measure."

    No democrat who supported this invasion in any way should be getting a free ride. Not a single one of our democratic federal congressmen voted in favor of the invasion. Mr Merkley should have followed suit in the only vote that our State House made in regards to this disaster.

    This whole vote was nothing but a manufactured republican hit job and any seasoned politician should have seen it for what it was and refused to play along.

  • Jägermeister (unverified)
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    Steve, you've lit a fire in my heart.

    Any chance you need campaign help?

  • East Bank Thom (unverified)
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    Some much cursive makes me want to curse. How to fixxy, fixxy? If only BlueO had an intern...

  • (Show?)

    Two points. This resolution was passed the day on March 21, 2003--the day after the US began the invasion. That date is not insignificant; the debate on whether it was right to go in or not was over. The procedural vote would have carried FAR different implications if it had been voted on a week earlier--and would make Novick's case a lot stronger. It sheds a different light on Merkley's floor speech and you can see the significance in the words "Today I rise to praise our young men and women..."

    Second point: Novick has never served, so we can't know if he'd have joined Jeff Merkley if he'd been compelled to vote the day Oregon citizens were headed into battle.

  • (Show?)

    Novick has never served as an elected official, that is.

  • (Show?)

    I think we would see real courage if the Legislators would add one line to the infinite Supplemental Appropriations Bils that are funding this unending occupation and bloodbath: "All (supplemental) funding for military and supporting actions in Iraq must be part of the Budget, and no part may be from borrowing from lenders" OK, That came out sorta funny. I know that's a contradiction, Supp vs Budget, but the idea is no Supplemental spending for Iraq, all Iraq spending must be in the budget payed for by the people. In real time. Individuals and businesses. According to ability to pay (OK I went too far there!) If this is the defining action of our time, the battle between good and evil, lets put our money where our mouth is. And I mean our money today, not some future money from our kids and grand kids. Steve Novick, Jeff Merkley, you are suddenly, magically now both US Senators. What say you?

  • (Show?)

    we can't know if he'd have joined Jeff Merkley if he'd been compelled to vote the day Oregon citizens were headed into battle.

    See, I think we CAN and DO know. And I think everyone here who knows Steve Novick or anything about him knows to a dead certainty that he would never have voted for that thing.

    Look at it again:

    Whereas the dictatorship of Iraq has continued to develop weapons of mass destruction in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1441; and

    Whereas the dictator Saddam Hussein has demonstrated a willingness to use weapons of mass destruction against neighboring nations and the citizens of Iraq; and

    Whereas Saddam Hussein threatens the Middle East and the global economy with the threat to use weapons of mass destruction; now, therefore,

    Be It Resolved by the House of Representatives of the State of Oregon:

    That we, the members of the House of Representatives of the Seventy-second Legislative Assembly:

    (1) Acknowledge the courage of President George W. Bush, the President's cabinet and the men and women of the Armed Forces of the United States, and express our support for the victorious removal of Saddam Hussein from power; and

    (2) Praise the courage, dedication, professionalism and sacrifices of the men and women of the Armed Forces of the United States in the defense of freedom.

    The Steve Novick I know would have choked on that, would have denounced it with wit and verve, and would have ridiculed the Republicans for serving it up. In fact, I would venture to say that if Steve Novick had been the Democratic leader in 2003, not only would he have provided actual leadership by voting no himself, but a lot more than five Democrats would have felt that they had sufficient political cover to vote no as well.

    That's what leaders do. That's what leadership is.

  • (Show?)

    (who knows? maybe if Steve had been the Democratic leader, even Merkley would have felt he had enough cover to vote against it)

  • Miles (unverified)
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    As far as I can tell, Merkley supporters are saying "This is a manufactured controversy. Merkley explained that he didn't really support most of the resolution, so his vote doesn't really count." Do those supporters apply that to all legislative resolutions? What about Steve's point about HJM 9 -- does it matter how anyone voted on that? Can all votes be explained away with a floor speech?

    I would actually have less of a problem with Merkley's vote if, like most Americans, he supported the war at first and then came to object to it over time. But it almost seems worse to me that Merkley spoke out against the war before this resolution, but then proceeded to vote for it. That's the mark of someone caving into Republican demagoguery.

    Novick's main argument is a good one -- it is better to have someone in Washington who calls "bullshit!" when he sees it and votes accordingly. This is particularly true in trying moments, such as March 2003, when the political risk was at its greatest. That's when leadership gets tested.

  • East Bank Thom (unverified)
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    Two points. This resolution was seen for what it was by five courageous legislators. Jeff Merkley was not one of them.

    Second point: Merkley didn't support the troops with HRes 2.

  • East Bank Thom (unverified)
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    Merkley didn't support the troops with HRes 2 without also acknowledging George W. Bush's "courage".

    Whew! I almost misspoke.

  • (Show?)

    TJ, Stephanie, et al... you win. Steve Novick utterly opposes the following:

    (2) Praise the courage, dedication, professionalism and sacrifices of the men and women of the Armed Forces of the United States in the defense of freedom.

    I accept your frame and it's logical conclussions. To wit...those who supported the resolution, public qualifications aside, therefore supported all of it. The reverse being equally true, because logic demands it, those who opposed the resolution, public qualifications aside, therefore opposed all of it.

    Steve, thanks for dispelling any misperceptions that you might be capable of even the slightest empathy towards men and women who don't get a say over where the President sends them or what they have to do once they get there. Ditto for the family and friends (and I am one of the latter) of those very same servicemen and servicewomen.

    Afterall, I'm simply accepting YOUR frame here.

  • James X. (unverified)
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    Novick, what makes this non-binder "meaningless" is not its non-binding nature alone. If a res expresses a single, clear position, a vote one way or the other means something. Votes on gimmicky false choices do not. When they're non-binding.

    Instead, no Democrat's vote expressed their true position. They all had to choose one bad way to vote, then explain themselves in a floor speech. To attack Merkley as someone who will abandon his principles for political reasons ("I think voters respect people who are willing to stand up for their principles, even when doing that is politically difficult.") feels like a desperation play, like you don't have anything substantial against the guy.

  • Frank Wills (unverified)
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    Steve, do you support impeachment of President Bush and Vice-President Cheney?

  • (Show?)
    I accept your frame and it's logical conclussions. To wit...those who supported the resolution, public qualifications aside, therefore supported all of it. The reverse being equally true, because logic demands it, those who opposed the resolution, public qualifications aside, therefore opposed all of it.

    Actually the logic doesn't demand it at all. A No response would be properly indicative in any case where you simply do not agree with all of it. The Republicans purposefully set up what is called in polling a "double-barreled" question: more than one concept is being posed, but only one encompassing answer (a Yes or No vote) is possible. To answer in agreement to the entire question, on a logical basis one has to agree with ALL parts, otherwise the only possible answer is No. If Vote = Y when A and B and C are true, then if any of A,B or C are NOT true, then Vote must = N.

    "thanks for dispelling any misperceptions that you might be capable of even the slightest empathy towards men and women who don't get a say over where the President sends them or what they have to do once they get there."

    Again, this interpretation makes the strange case that the GOP was actually serious in seeking "support for the troops," rather than just using a catch phrase as bait for nervous Democrats.

  • BHamm (unverified)
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    Kevin, don't be trite. Both sides in this discussion have made valid points (both you and Stephanie). No one thinks that Steve was attacking that portion of the resolution.

    However, Steve is simply pointing out that Speaker Merkley had an opportunity to voice opposition to the administration's bogus grounds for war and getting involved in a fight not our own. Merkley did not take this opportunity, but rather expressed reservations about parts of the resolution, while still voting for it. While Steve is not saying Merkley was holding hands with Paul Wolfowitz on the lead-up to war, he is saying that he missed an opportunity to really take a stand against the administration and their bullshit war.

    I don't think Steve is attacking anyone. He's just making distinctions between himself and Speaker Merkley, and he's doing it in a tactful and professional manner. I hope that both of these candidates can keep this primary race upbeat and positive, because I would like to see one of them elected to the Senate. Whomever wins the primary should be the best candidate, and that should be decided through positive campaigning and issue-driven debate. Not money. Not mudslinging. Not media whoring.

  • (Show?)

    To answer in agreement to the entire question, on a logical basis one has to agree with ALL parts, otherwise the only possible answer is No. If Vote = Y when A and B and C are true, then if any of A,B or C are NOT true, then Vote must = N.

    Are you suggesting that this should be the rule for all legislative votes? That one has to agree with every single aspect of the entire bill in order to vote yes?

    Certainly, there are plenty of situations where compromise has been reached - a little "I'll give you this, you give me that" - and a majority vote can be achieved.

    Setting aside the HR 2 question for a moment, is this really the way we want to approach politics? That each legislator should vote against every bill that is not 100% exactly as that legislator would have written it?

    I'm not sure we'd ever pass a bill.

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    Certainly, there are plenty of situations where compromise has been reached - a little "I'll give you this, you give me that" - and a majority vote can be achieved. Setting aside the HR 2 question for a moment, is this really the way we want to approach politics? That each legislator should vote against every bill that is not 100% exactly as that legislator would have written it?

    Is that what it was now, a compromise? I'll give you "courageous George Bush" if you give me "support the troops?"

    I never said a legislator should vote against every bill that is not 100% exactly as they would have written. What I said was that Kevin's logical construct doesn't hold water, because a Yes vote indicates affirmation of the entire bill overall, while a No vote indicates a level of disagreement with all OR part of it, such that agreement was not possible. Furthermore, you AND Jeff know as well as I do that the "support the troops" part of that bill held no meaning whatsoever beyond the ability to bait Democrats into voting for it. That was the sole purpose of it--to create a trap. Your position here seems to suggest that Jeff actually sat and considered the merits of the bill as if it were not a trap vote.

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    Kari, I would add this: no matter how you feel in your heart of hearts about each and every clause of the bill you are voting on, if you vote Aye, you are nonetheless accountable for each and every clause.

    Legislators find ways to make their peace with that. But they are public servants and they know, or should know, that they are responsible for their choices.

  • MCR (unverified)
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    dag, y'all.

  • Jorrid Toe (unverified)
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    In voting for the resolution reproduced below, Jeff Merkley missed a chance to show that he is the kind of guy who will denounce Republican demagoguery at every turn. That doesn’t make him a bad guy. It doesn’t change the fact that he’s a heck of a lot better than Gordon Smith. But it does distinguish him from me.

    That brings up a very important question: which is more important, to denounce demagoguery, or to denounce an illegal war of choice?

    Torridjoe, Stephanie V, East Bank Thom, and you seem to have decided the demogoguery is the most important thing. It isn't to me, but I wonder if I am in the minority here. What do others think?

    Jeff Merkley denounced the war that day in the very public setting of the Oregon House of Representatives.

    So, I am curious Steve, where and when did you publicly denounce the war prior to March 21, 2003?

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    It's hard to credibly denounce a war when you are voting for a resolution that supports it.

  • East Bank Thom (unverified)
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    Stephanie, maybe you just need to try harder to read between the lines of Merkley's floor speech?

    Why isn't Speaker Merkley addressing this issue himself, now that the mainstream media has picked it up? Instead we've got Republican trolls flaming the issue and anonymous Merkley supporters (as well as those from his Machine - who quite naturally only speak for themselves) trying to taint Steve Novick personally with Merkley's foolish vote. It's looking more and more to me like the Merkley fans are trying to drag down Novick too... turn a negative 1 into a neutral draw. I hope that's not coming directly from Merkley's campaign.

    I'm looking for Jeff Merkley to clarify this mess himself and not to remain AWOL. (Or is he content to just stand by his signing statement or floor speech or whatever?)

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    EBT and Stephanie, if you really think that Merkely was voting to support the war you are deluded.

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    Posted by: Stephanie V | Aug 27, 2007 4:08:26 PM Kari, I would add this: no matter how you feel in your heart of hearts about each and every clause of the bill you are voting on, if you vote Aye, you are nonetheless accountable for each and every clause.

    So Novick doesn't believe the courage, dedication, professionalism and sacrifices of the men and women of the Armed Forces of the United States in the defense of freedom is praise worthy (especially when the bullets are flying)...?

  • BlueNote (unverified)
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    I think that it does not matter what Dem activists believe, or what nuances Mr. Merkley or Mr. Novick put on their respective statements or positions. For better or worse, Merkley has lost the "high ground" in challenging Gordo on the Iraq war as a result of his legislative vote. The 30 second sound bite war will make both Gordo and Mr. Merkley appear equal on Iraq. A lie to be sure, but that's the way it goes.

    I assume the solution for Oregon Dems is either (a) elect Novick to challenge Gordo (my personal choice) or (b) fight the 2008 general election battle on issues other than Iraq. Certainly Merkley can talk about spending, or taxes, or education reform or health care. Unfortunately, those issues don't have the same traction with voters as the Iraq war, which may be a very good reason to vote for Novick in the primary.

  • James X. (unverified)
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    Even TJ initially acknowledged that "trying to pin the war-supporter tag on Merkley (is) an absurd and pointless gambit."

  • East Bank Thom (unverified)
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    EBT and Stephanie, if you really think that Merkely was voting to support the war you are deluded.

    Hey Mitch, why don't you pack up the straw men and take your act on the yellow brick road. I'm getting really close to registering (D) just to vote hook and spite you.

  • James X. (unverified)
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    Stephanie: "It's hard to credibly denounce a war when you are voting for a resolution that supports it."

    Lesta: "If you really think that Merkely was voting to support the war you are deluded."

    EBT: "Why don't you pack up the straw men and take your act on the yellow brick road."

    EBT, I'm confused. I'm assuming you disagree with Stephanie, but Lesta didn't build a straw man there.

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    Posted by: East Bank Thom | Aug 27, 2007 6:25:52 PM EBT and Stephanie, if you really think that Merkely was voting to support the war you are deluded. Hey Mitch, why don't you pack up the straw men and take your act on the yellow brick road. I'm getting really close to registering (D) just to vote hook and spite you.

    How is it a "strawman"...? Stephanie clearly thinks, and specifically said that Merkely was voting in support of the war, despite the fact Merekly said that he didn't support the invasion on the floor of the state house.

    I'm getting really close to registering (D) just to vote hook and spite you.

    Wow. That will certainly teach me a lesson, considering I have been raising money for Novick's campaign. Go on, I double dog dare yeah to vote for Novick. I triple dog dare ya to contribute to his campaign as well.

  • Old Enough to Know (unverified)
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    Actually it was the American Legion and VFW guys who spat on veterans who opposed the war. Or worse, beat the crap out of them for voicing their opinion.

    The swift-boating of John Kerry was just a continuation of the way how those veterans treated other veterans who disagreed with them.

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    "Even TJ initially acknowledged that "trying to pin the war-supporter tag on Merkley (is) an absurd and pointless gambit."

    Initially? "Even" me? Please point out who has claimed (other than Republicans) that Merkley supported the war. I don't believe anyone has, least of all me. "Even" Reinhard doesn't believe it, he makes clear.

    "So Novick doesn't believe the courage, dedication, professionalism and sacrifices of the men and women of the Armed Forces of the United States in the defense of freedom is praise worthy (especially when the bullets are flying)...?"

    You don't actually think that was what the bill was about, do you? You still can't see that it was a trap vote, and that was the bait? It wasn't a serious proposition, and in any case it's a meaningless platitude.

  • Pat Malach (unverified)
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    Merkley made his position crystal clear,

    ... And he did this by disagreeing with three-quarters of the B.S. but then voting for it? That's too damn clever for me to follow.

    They all had to choose one bad way to vote, then explain themselves in a floor speech.

    Would you rather be held accountable for voting your beliefs, or would you rather be held accountable for voting for something you did not believe in?

    That seems pretty simple.

    And the argument that Merkley could not find a better way out of this than to vote for it does not speak well for him. Stop making that argument.

    Moreover, empty rhetoric like "support the troops," (especially when it's used to quell dissent and oversight during a war)is the worst kind of jingoism. Jingoism is the Britney Spears of patriotism. And I'm tired of Britney Spears having so much power.

    I'll vote for somebody who I think has the smarts, creativity and guts to stand up to her.

    Even TJ initially acknowledged that "trying to pin the war-supporter tag on Merkley (is) an absurd and pointless gambit."

    ...Nobody here is trying to do that. They are asking why Merkley chose to vote for something that contained so many statements that ran contrary to what he believed.

    Please try and follow along.

    Two days after the invasion, you would have had to waterboard me, pull out my fingernails and make me hang out with a bunch of Portland hipsters drinking that watered-down PBR crap to get me to vote for a resolution praising the courage of George W. -- no matter how many jingoistic clauses you tacked on behind it.

    So clearly, had Merkley been my representative on that day, he would not have been representing me very well.

    I've no doubt Jeff Merkley would be a much better Senator than Gordon Smith. But those are legitimate concerns for me, especially when I know there's a choice that gives me a lot more confidence that my Senator will find clever and creative ways to call the GOP's Bullshit, rather than walking into it and then later having to find away to shake it off himself.

    If I believe Steve Novick provides that option, and that he has as good --if not better-- chance of beating Gordon Smith, then I'd be betraying myself not to vote for him.

  • LT (unverified)
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    TJ: I think I see where the dispute lies. The "be it resolved" section (given when it was voted on) strikes me as protocol.

    The fuss over it reminds me of a story about a similar spat. There was a time awhile back when a new caucus was formed on Capitol Hill, designed to be bicameral and bipartisan. The first Democratic chair was a senator some Democrats loved and others did not. The first Republican Congressman to be co-chair was a right winger, but someone with expertise on the subject.

    This being decades ago, it took awhile for news to filter back to Oregon that the Democratic senator had said some polite words introducing the right wing Republican as co-chair. Some Democrats were livid. Others could see that the situation had called for diplomacy.

    Perhaps that is what this is all about.

    If not, 1) As a politician's grandchild, I grew up with good manners and protocol as part of my upbringing, including a visit to the state capitol where Grandpa's picture was officially unveiled in a ceremony a couple years after his death. I believe in the "catch more flies with honey than with hitting them over the head" philosophy, which I know is not to the liking of all activists.

    This is why I am underwhelmed by Steve's statement, " I will denounce Republican demagogic garbage, in no uncertain terms, at every turn, regardless of political risk.".

    I've known people in both parties with that attitude, and they generally accomplished less over time than those who were outspoken but well mannered (from Tom McCall and Hubert Humphrey to Speaker and then AG Hardy Myers, to St. Sens. Ryan Deckert, Frank Morse and Avel Gordly).

    Steve may think the 2003 vote was the stupidest thing Jeff ever did, and some obviously agree with him. Fine--vote for him but don't expect me to do so based on what I have seen so far.

    2) I am the high school friend of a Vietnam casualty (amputee) and have been involved in the crusade for better treatment of veterans long before there were blogs, and long before I ever heard the names Gordon Smith, Steve Novick, Jeff Merkley. Saying Jeff made a mistaken vote in 2003 does not tell me if Novick's views on veterans issues are closer to the views of Sens. Ron Wyden and Patty Murray, or closer to the views of those in the 1980s who made it clear vets issues were not a priority for them.

    So go ahead. Be angry about a 2003 House Resolution with language that bothers you. Just don't expect me to make that the top priority when I decide my vote.

    Anyone from the Novick campaign want to post a comment showing where Steve stands on veterans issues? Or is attacking Jeff's vote more rewarding in your eyes?

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    Posted by: torridjoe | Aug 27, 2007 7:30:12 PM I don't believe anyone has, least of all me. "Even" Reinhard doesn't believe it, he makes clear.

    Stephanie V made that argument in this very thread.

    You don't actually think that was what the bill was about, do you?

    Lame dodge TJ. YOU said that every sentence in a resolution counts. So by YOUR standards Novick voting no would mean he doesn't think the believe the courage, dedication, professionalism and sacrifices of the men and women of the Armed Forces of the United States in the defense of freedom is praise worthy. That is the bullshit YOU employed TJ.

    You still can't see that it was a trap vote, and that was the bait?

    TJ, I said over week ago when Novick first commented on this legitimizing the GOP talking points about it that it was a trap vote. But your bordering on hypocritical statement that every sentence counts as you try to dodge by waving your arms that its a trap (which I repeatedly stated LONG ago that it was before most around here) doesn't address the fraudlent argument you are trying to leverage.

    It wasn't a serious proposition, and in any case it's a meaningless platitude.

    So its meaningless to military families who are two days into a battle unless you voted for praising the troops and explicitly saying it was a vote only for the troops, then it is voting to support the war and bad judgement, a mistake, lake of courage, etc. But when you say every sentence counts in the resolution, those who voted not to praise the professionalism of the troops, well those votes don't matter.

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    Posted by: Pat Malach | Aug 27, 2007 7:37:36 PM Two days after the invasion, you would have had to waterboard me, pull out my fingernails and make me hang out with a bunch of Portland hipsters drinking that watered-down PBR crap to get me to vote for a resolution praising the courage of George W. -- no matter how many jingoistic clauses you tacked on behind it.

    So you would have had to waterboard me, pull out my fingernails and make me hang out with a bunch of Portland hipsters drinking that watered-down PBR crap to get me to vote for a resolution praising the professionalism of people who are being shot at as part of their duty in serving us all (whether you agree with the war or not)...?

    BTW, it was two days after the invasion began, not two days after "the invasion", semantic perhaps but this was as the combat was beginning not after the fact.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)
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    My, my, how one's political alligiance affects one's reasoning!

    I have not decided whom to support in the Democratic primary, but Novick clearly makes a good point. Support of the Iraq misadventure appears to be the crux of Smith's weakness, and Merkley has an Achilles heel on the issue.

    And, anyone paying attention should have known 9 months before the invasion that the Shrubbery's arguments for war were a crock. Merkley could have heaped praise on the troops in his floor speech and then voted NO on a resolution not worthy of a toilet tissue dispenser.

  • Pat Malach (unverified)
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    lestatdelc, your strawman act is getting old. By trying to label me as someone who doesn't "support the troops" because i refuse to also acknowledge the "courage of George W. Bush," you're no better than the GOP lawmakers who crafted that beauty in the first place. Congratulations.

    My grandfather fled his Bohemian home in 1938. So you'll understand if I don't dig on locksteppers, no matter how much jingoism and nationalistic pressure is used to make it happen. You fall for that crap if you like, and see how many more people it gets killed.

    (1) Acknowledge the courage of President George W. Bush, the President's cabinet and the men and women of the Armed Forces of the United States,

    Merkley could have thrown it back in their face and objected to it because it praises the courage of the president and his cabinet before it praises the troops. That's taking the troops for granted by golly.

    Or he could have voted no and said he "supports the troops" and praises their professionalism in his vaunted "floor speech." But he chose to vote for it. You can't run from that no matter how poorly you mangle any and all logic.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    In all the flak above I managed to find this nugget of wisdom that all contributors should ponder:

    My, my, how one's political allegiance affects one's reasoning!

  • Warner (unverified)
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    This idiotic debate has served at least one purpose - I am no longer undecided - my money and my vote are going to Merkley.

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    Posted by: Pat Malach | Aug 27, 2007 8:44:18 PM

    Not a "strawman act". Flows from what your hyperbole presents.

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    Posted by: Tom Civiletti | Aug 27, 2007 8:43:33 PM And, anyone paying attention should have known 9 months before the invasion that the Shrubbery's arguments for war were a crock.

    Which is what Merkely said on the floor, that the rationale for the war was unconvincing.

  • Frank Wills (unverified)
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    Steve, are you going to answer questions when you blog here? It's been twelve hours and you haven't answered any questions. This war was illegal and the people who got us into it should be impeached. Do you support impeaching Bush and Cheney?

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    Could someone please point out to me where I said that Jeff Merkley supported the war? Because I don't think I ever said that.

    Because if he did, at least he would have been voting his conscience on HR2 (which was, after all, a resolution in support of the war), and I'd have to respect that. But when I said that his vote was craven and foolish, that was because I take him at his word when he says he never really supported the war, he just voted for a resolution supporting the war, because it also supported the troops. (Despite the fact that since the first Gulf War, no American soldier, sailor, airman, or Marine has ever been allowed to feel unsupported at any time, so trussed up in yellow ribbons is the homeland.)

    The vote was wrong no matter what the rationale, in my estimation. But my opinion of him would improve if he would acknowledge that the vote was a mistake. The way he clings to his rationalizations reminds me of Hillary, and not in a good way, as I've said before.

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    Your post is pure sophistry Stephanie. Pathetic.

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    You can disagree with me if you like, but that doesn't mean my argument isn't valid - only that you have a different opinion.

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    The resolution put forward by the Republican-controlled legislature seems like a no-win situation:

    (1) Acknowledge the courage of President George W. Bush, the President's cabinet and the men and women of the Armed Forces of the United States, and express our support for the victorious removal of Saddam Hussein from power; and (2) Praise the courage, dedication, professionalism and sacrifices of the men and women of the Armed Forces of the United States in the defense of freedom.

    Think about it--you vote against it and WHAM--the attack ads say you voted against the troops as they march into battle. You vote for it and WHAM--you jeopardize your credibility to denounce Bush as the lying dipshit he is. As politics, it's pretty darn close to perfect--props to Wayne Scott! But as a predictor of who would be the better senator it tells us nothing.

    This kind of bill is pretty common, common enough that I wish Novick and Obama and all the others out there who keep bringing up past votes about Iraq would stick to telling us their plans for fixing our problems NOW. (Seriously Steve, this is crap and you know it.)

    As for Merkley losing his "moral high ground" to challenge Gordon Smtih--give me a break. Anyone who's paying even the least bit of attention knows there's a world of difference between the two men clearly shown in the long pattern of legislative action the two have taken and no one's credibility hangs on a single vote for a non-binding resolution.

  • Chuck Butcher (unverified)
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    Kari, My analysis of that resolution is that it had a sugar frosting on a poison cake, you vote yes on such a thing at your own risk. There's been plenty of that crap passed in Congress and asking the question is valid. You're taking sides to suggest that nothing would get passed, there is often something "less than" in a Bill, the question becomes, is it a "less than" or a poison pill?

    I'll tell you how I'd have voted - NO - and I'd have got up on my hind feet and read the R's out for it, but that's me and I can get 11% in a Primary...

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)
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    Jamais Vu sums up Merkley's situation well. The politically safe vote under most circumstances is YES, as it prevents opponents from claiming that Merkley voted against the troops. But now he wants to run against Smith on his support of the invasion and occupation. The YES vote is now an albatross, as Smith supporters can say that Smith supported the war and then changed his mind, just like Merkley. His floor speech suggests that Merkley meant to support the troops, not he policy, but he voted to support the policy. Of course, Merkley's campaign will spin just as his supporters have here, but it is plain to see that Merkley's ability to attack Smith on Iraq is compromised. Smith has spoken against the occupation, but has voted to continue it. Merkley spoke against the invasion, but voted to support it.

    The invasion and occupation have always been illegal, and supporting the troops in an illegal action is not good statesmanship, but this is the US, and military hegemony means never needing to say you are sorry. Merkley went with what seemed politically expedient at the time, but with what now is politically unfortunate. So it goes sometimes.

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    No Stepahnie, your argument is pure sophistry and disingenuous bullshit.

  • trishka (unverified)
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    novick has an interesting response to the reinhard column - demonstrates some good political savvy, imo.

    read steve's blog here

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    lestatdelc, just because you don't understand my argument, that doesn't make it either sophistry or bullshit.

    I will paint it by numbers for you.

    1. Jeff Merkley was philosophically opposed to the invasion of Iraq. I have never accused him of supporting it philosophically (only politically, as recited below).

    2. Despite the fact that he was philosophically opposed to the invasion of Iraq, and despite the fact that he knew the legislation was a Republican trap, he voted for a toxically worded symbolic resolution in political support of the invasion, because it contained the magic words "support the troops" and he was afraid of being pilloried by the Republicans if he voted no. He also gave a floor speech on the same day reasserting his philosophical opposition to the invasion, in an effort to have it both ways.

    3. His Aye vote was not only craven and foolish, it was also unnecessary (as five other D's had the courage to vote No, with no significant adverse political consequences). That vote causes me and others to have concerns about Merkley's intestinal fortitude when confronted in the future with other, more dangerous Republican traps (e.g. Patriot Act), and to lack confidence in the way he might vote on such things.

    4. Beyond craven, foolish, and unnecessary, that vote would impair his ability in a general election campaign to call out the contradictions on Iraq in Gordon Smith's record.

    5. The Iraq war deserves to be front and center in the campaign against Gordon Smith.

    6. In order to have the best chance of winning, the Democrats should not nominate a candidate whose ability and credibility in bringing this issue to Smith would be impaired in any way.

    7. That means Steve Novick.

    8. In addition, I and many others who support Steve Novick believe that he is fundamentally a person whose philosophical and political positions will be in coherent alignment, to minimize the risk of future embarrassments of the kind perpetrated by Merkley.

    There, does that help?

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    5. The Iraq war deserves to be front and center in the campaign against Gordon Smith. 6. In order to have the best chance of winning, the Democrats should not nominate a candidate whose ability and credibility in bringing this issue to Smith would be impaired in any way.

    I think #5 is obvious, but I have to say I don't quite share the view in #6. I don't think Merkley's advantage on Iraq vis a vis Smith is compromised by this. I don't see it as much of an issue in the general. No one who is honest can call it a flip-flop; he was always against the war.

    Where I found salience, was in the comparison with Novick in terms of whether Jeff might be a leader in ending the capitulation to dirty politics that we have come to expect from the GOP these last few years. I don't want anybody to be someone they're not, and my take is that vocal, hardnosed repudiation of Republican bullshit is just not Jeff's style. We need consensus builders and people with bipartisan ability in Congress-but frankly I think we've got enough of those, and not nearly enough fighters. I want a fighter for this seat.

    I have said from the beginning this primary will be about style and dynamism/vision, rather than substantive policy differences. The 2003 Iraq resolution just happens to be an illustrative issue in differences of style and vision, IMO. Again, I don't think this hurts Jeff if he makes it to the general, but it does show that the two men will have different approaches to the office.

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    If I were Merkley, I'd apologize for the vote, than turn it back on Smith by challenging him to apologize for his vote for a war that he himself said was criminal.

    Apologizes mean a lot in politics, more than some people think.

  • trishka (unverified)
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    it impresses me that novick is sharp enough to know when he's being played (by reinhard) and gutsy enough to call BS on it. point for him on this one.

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    I understood your bullshit sophistry clearly Stephanie before your enumerated ranting upthread. Your craptacular load of dung about "craven" motives is just that. Dung.

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    Posted by: Carl Fisher | Aug 28, 2007 12:29:28 PM If I were Merkley, I'd apologize for the vote, than turn it back on Smith by challenging him to apologize for his vote for a war that he himself said was criminal. Apologizes mean a lot in politics, more than some people think.

    What should Merkely apologize for? For saying he did not support the rationale for the invasion but wanted to express support for professionalism of the military as combat is underway?

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    Mitch, you know I like you, and it's difficult to be so publicly disagreeable with you on this subject. But I think one "sophistry," "bullshit" and "dung" per person is enough on a subject, don't you? The people you're arguing with are not Republican trolls, they are people you've had positive discussions with before, who now disagree with you on this issue. Not only does that last post add nothing but the last (angry) word to your argument, it starts to poison the well. Jake and Kari have shared some conciliatory words today on remembering who we are and what our eventual goals are, and I think those on both sides of this question should follow their lead.

    It's not even Labor Day. We're going to be working and fighting hard for our favorite candidates until May--and then we've got to turn swords into ploughshares, or at least re-aim the swords. :)

    So everybody (including me) take a deep breath and remember: we're deciding between better and best here. Let's keep it in perspective.

    Love, Dad

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    TJ, given that the Stephanie has repeatedly called Merkely a craven, fool, who voted to support the invasion, I do call it a bullshit argument, and sophistry for her to claim otherwise and is political dung.

    I said over a week ago that using the fraudulent GOP frame to attack a candidate who was and is against the war was troubling and doing the GOPs dirty work for them. You and I (and most everyone here) knows it was a GOP fabricated and contrived "controversy" yet some here are buying into the validity of the very same GOP gambit of getting Democrats to attack their own, even ones who were and are opposed to the war. Merkely is neither craven, a fool or dishonest and has been against this war form the start. Yet we now have alleged Democrats calling him that because of this GOP narrative, which is what I cautioned against over a week ago and where I draw the line.

    As for re-aiming the swords, no need to on my part. I have always said that they should be pointed at Smith, who actually voted to send the troops into combat in the first place (unlike Merkely or Novick)... instead of trying to draw primary blood between two more than qualified and capable candidates.

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    Well, I tried.

    You might check your sources, though. No one has called Merkley craven or a fool. His vote was referred to as craven and foolish. Certainly you agree all of us have been foolish in our lives, without actually being fools?

    And I don't need the GOP to help me analyze the candidates. To suggest that now I'M being duped into registering a criticism of a candidate, is a fair bit insulting.

    Do what you like. I'm not the board police. I was just trying to ratchet down the rhetoric so we can all get to May without hating each other.

  • East Bank Thom (unverified)
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    But Mitch, why are your swords out for me? Indeed, the pen is mightier than the sword, and your fabrication that i have ever claimed that Speaker Merkley was pro-war cuts to the quick.

    It's strikes me you'd be in fewer fights, Mitch, if you didn't try so hard to pick them. But then, you don't strike me as a very picky guy...

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    Posted by: East Bank Thom | Aug 28, 2007 4:42:51 PM But Mitch, why are your swords out for me? Indeed, the pen is mightier than the sword, and your fabrication that i have ever claimed that Speaker Merkley was pro-war cuts to the quick.

    Except I never said you said Merkely was "pro-war"... I stated (accurately) that Stephanie said Merkely voted in support of the war, which is not accurate to what Merkely did. You seemed to be supportive of Stephanie's position, if you weren't agreeing with her statement then I will gladly acknowledge that you disagree with her statement. However what I claimed Stephanie stated was, and is, accurate since it was her own words:

    Stephanie: "It's hard to credibly denounce a war when you are voting for a resolution that supports it."

    So do you agree with her statement or not?

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    Ugh. This is the reason why I hate primary season.

    You should see the D.U. It's such a swamp of fratricidal hatred, I can hardly read it anymore.

  • East Bank Thom (unverified)
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    You're pretty stubborn, Mitch. (or maybe just dense?) I gave you a hyperlink back to your own words which insinuated i thought "Merkely was voting to support the war." What ever gave you such a notion or were you simply deluded, Mitch?

    Rather that try to parse someone else's words, let me just tell you how I see it...

    1. House Res 2 from 2003 demonstrated support for the war.
    2. Jeff Merkley voted for HRes 2 while saying he was "not persuaded" that the Iraq war was the "best strategy to fight terrorism" but he wanted to talk about that issue "another day."
    3. I could have told Merkley that very day that invading Iraq was in fact NOT the "best strategy to fight terrorism."

    That said, it's hard to credibly denounce a war when you are voting for a resolution that supports it.

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    I reserve the right to say whatever I want about any vote of any legislator in any legislative body.

    I never called Jeff Merkley a name, and in fact, in the other thread I went out of my way to ask for the namecalling to stop. But don't tell me I can't criticize a legislative act of a legislator, for God's sake.

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    Novic, you do not need to attack another progressive to show that you are different. If you can not show the party respect now, then can Oregon really trust you in the future.

    You and Merkly need to be vetted by the Oregonians that are tired of Smith mis-representing the values of Oregon. If you want to show your worth to Oregon in this race. Run against Smith and embrace the people you want to support you. Give the working call Dave, Debbie and Diego's of Oregon an opportunity to learn how you approach things and ask you questions.

    The right person will win this race and the right person is the one that is focused on running against Smith more than they are on the Progressive standing next to them.

    Fred

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    So I am dense because I was correct surmising (which you now confirm) that you do indeed support Stephanie's erronious claim that Merkely was voting in support of the war.

    Glad we cleared that up.

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    Posted by: Stephanie V | Aug 28, 2007 5:50:07 PM I reserve the right to say whatever I want about any vote of any legislator in any legislative body.

    Nobody said you couldn't.

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    "The right person will win this race and the right person is the one that is focused on running against Smith more than they are on the Progressive standing next to them."

    The one that runs against Smith in a primary should probably concentrate on the challenge before them first. That doesn't have to mean dirty politics, but if you don't explain why you're better than the other guy, why should I vote for you instead of him?

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    Hopefully by doing what I long ago articulated, 'I can better articulate why Gordon Smith is a terrible Senator and needs to be replaced' (i.e I can kick Smith in the nuts harder and more effectively.

    I would also add who would make a better legislator. I think the first is a fair open question, the later one where there will be little daylight between Novick and Merkely since either would make outstanding Senators since they both are solid policy-wonks.

    Novick I think might be a little deeper on policy wonkishness in domestic areas, whereas Merkely might have minor edge in being a legislator and dealing with (and within) a caucus.

  • Frank Wills (unverified)
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    Where are you, Steve? Are you going to answer the questions asked above? Did you really write this or are you just another politician who makes his staff write blogs for him?

  • Faolan (unverified)
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    Stephanie,

    I'm not sure why you even bother arguing with Lestat. He is consciously misunderstanding your positions for the express purpose of creating this argument in the first place.

    Yes, Merkley voted to support this war. It doesn't matter what he said prior to his vote. It doesn't matter whether he even THOUGHT he was only voicing his support of the troops after making a statement that he didn't like the invasion. The only thing that matters to the public is that Merkley voted to suport this war. That is the way the public will see it.

    The fact that any of you can't understand that, or make statements that display your incomprehension, doesn't change it. Think what you want. The vast majority of the voting public will see that Merkley voted to support the war and therefore he is no different than Smith in that regard.

    Therefore Merkley has lost a critical advantage against Smith. End of story. He can certainly make decisions that help him recover from that. But people like me will see that when the chips were down and he had the chance to stand in defiance and throw the finger in Bush's face, Merkley chose not to.

    That said I don't think he would make a bad Senator. He'd be worlds better than Smith obviously. But I don't want 'not bad' I want 'Great!' just like Steve talked about.

    This argument would never even have gone this far if twits didn't try to defend an obviously weak vote by their candidate. Don't defend the indefensible, just move on to other reasons why you think your guy is better.

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    How many angels...? when will Democrats stop fighting each other over who is more pure, and take a look at the real issue-Gordon Smith? I realize that we must make a decision in the primary between two Ds, but my main criterion for that choice is who is the better candidate against the incumbent. I want to see who has the better arguments against Smith, not who can conjure up some hair-spitting difference between the two Democrats.

  • Charlie Foxtrot (unverified)
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    Enough!

    It was legitimate and fair comment by Novick. The fact that supporting the troops is mentioned ignores the primary purpose of the resolution; to support the war, ratify the doubtful (even then) WMD "justification," and put Bush-Cheney courage (???) ahead of the troops; the ones to be called upon to give up a leg, an arm, or a life.

    It does show is that Merkley didn't think this one through very much. First, if he didn't believe the war was a good idea, why would he vote for something to the contrary? Second, if he was concerned about WMD why didn't he instead push a resolution to request the U.S. and U.N. to wait until Hans Blix made his final report? Third, why did he, as well as (apparently) every member Congres fail to raise the question of whether there were other good reasons why Saddam wasn't co-operative and forthcoming about WMD's such as keeping both Israel and Iran uncertain about his capacity? Most important, why didn't he recognize that since there was no "imminent" threat to the U.S. or anyone else (the worst case described was six months, a liklihood largely discounted by those most qualified to know) that the invasion under the circumstances was a serious violation of international law?

    Six months to having weapons plus the additional time for operational readiness plus the additional time required for deployment is a hell of a lot different than, say, having Egyptian tanks massing on your border. The fact of the matter is that Merkley then was thinking no more clearly than most of Congress, and was accepting administration assertions and generalities at face value, and in approving in principle the war despite the warnings and analysis 0f much mmore experienced and knowledgeable Mid-East experts, diplomats, and academics, both Republican and Democrat. We con't need more of that kind of "legislative" experience!

    Even under Texas law, a strongly held belief that someone is out to kill you some day and does not justify taking the iniriative as self defense; it is premeditated first degree murder. The better question to both of them on this issue should be, "If elected, would you yote to have Bush and Cheney rounded up and "renditioned" to the International Criminal Court at the Hague for trial?

  • Charlie Foxtrot (unverified)
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    Enough!

    It was legitimate and fair comment by Novick. The fact that supporting the troops is mentioned ignores the primary purpose of the resolution; to support the war, ratify the doubtful (even then) WMD "justification," and put Bush-Cheney courage (???) ahead of the troops; the ones to be called upon to give up a leg, an arm, or a life.

    It does show is that Merkley didn't think this one through very much. First, if he didn't believe the war was a good idea, why would he vote for something to the contrary? Second, if he was concerned about WMD why didn't he instead push a resolution to request the U.S. and U.N. to wait until Hans Blix made his final report? Third, why did he, as well as (apparently) every member Congres fail to raise the question of whether there were other good reasons why Saddam wasn't co-operative and forthcoming about WMD's such as keeping both Israel and Iran uncertain about his capacity? Most important, why didn't he recognize that since there was no "imminent" threat to the U.S. or anyone else (the worst case described was six months, a liklihood largely discounted by those most qualified to know) that the invasion under the circumstances was a serious violation of international law?

    Six months to having weapons plus the additional time for operational readiness plus the additional time required for deployment is a hell of a lot different than, say, having Egyptian tanks massing on your border. The fact of the matter is that Merkley then was thinking no more clearly than most of Congress, and was accepting administration assertions and generalities at face value, and in approving in principle the war despite the warnings and analysis 0f much mmore experienced and knowledgeable Mid-East experts, diplomats, and academics, both Republican and Democrat. We con't need more of that kind of "legislative" experience!

    Even under Texas law, a strongly held belief that someone is out to kill you some day and does not justify taking the iniriative as self defense; it is premeditated first degree murder. The better question to both of them on this issue should be, "If elected, would you yote to have Bush and Cheney rounded up and "renditioned" to the International Criminal Court at the Hague for trial?

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    How many angels...? when will Democrats stop fighting each other over who is more pure...

    When will Democrats stop pretending that this is about purity and realize it's about tactics?

    The Iraq war was a fiasco before it was even begun. But once the AUMF vote in Congress was over in October 2002, there was almost no vocal opposition to the war from major Democratic Congressional leadership for years. There was plenty of criticism about how the war was handled, but the years of GOP propaganda that went into convincing people that there was some sort of relationship between the war in Iraq and an act of terrorism on 9/11 or future terrorist threats to the US were so unopposed that almost half of the public still believes Saddam had some al Qaeda ties, even if they're sick of the war in Iraq.

    Even now, most Democratic "opposition" to the war is based more on the failure of the Bush administration's plans than on the proposition that we shouldn't have been there in the first place.

    That's not an argument about purity. What Congress needs are people who are willing to act as opponents to bad legislation and policy. That means more than just voting the right way when the opportunity arises. It's advocacy for what's right and against what's wrong. It's willingness to take a stand.

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    Steve Duin has an interesting perspective on this today.

    I n the nine months that remain before the 2008 primaries, these questions should shape the choices you make:

    Who's the alarm clock and who's the snooze feature? Who's the Band-Aid and who's the wrecking ball?

    Which candidate will bring passion and outrage to the job, and which one will be escorted by the Oregon lobby?

    More to the point, who will diminish the office they seek . . . and who will enlarge it?

    ...

    As we can see in the ongoing spat over Merkley's salute to the courage of President Bush in taking this country to war -- not to mention his embrace of the administration's weapons-of-mass-destruction charade -- both parties have issues. Novick would never have voted for that 2003 resolution; that Merkley did suggests he brings a different level of anger and activism to this campaign.

  • East Bank Thom (unverified)
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    Stephen, i respect you. And respectfully, this is not "hair-spitting."

    When lestatdelc first brought to my attention that Jeff Merkley had voted in favor of a resolution which acknowledged the "courage" of George W. Bush, i thought that was bad enough. But to read the whole resolution with all of its "whereas'es" which bought into all the lies... i can only wonder why more Democrats didn't take the bait. I'm truly sorry, but Merkley's signing statement just doesn't make up for his lapse in judgment. But he's being advised to stand tall, stay the course and dig in his heals, saying he has "no regrets." How typically, disappointingly Democratic old school establishment losing strategy. Nein, Danke.

  • LT (unverified)
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    Stephanie, as someone very active in party politics in 1986, I read the column differently. First, that Vicki Walker has stood up for what she believes more than anyone else mentioned.

    Second, that (with the requisite "had we known his deep dark secret back then he would never have been elected to statewide office") Neil Goldschmidt had political virtues it would be wonderful to see again. He was positive. He was a problem solver. He appeared on TV and answered callers about any problem they were having when mayor, and during the campaign as a way to show his level of knowledge and comfort answering questions. He inspired people. The logistics of his campaign were amazing to behold.

    I hope you and E. Bank Thom are spending as much effort to volunteer on the Novick for Senate campaign as you are here at this blog expressing your anger at Merkley's 2003 vote. You have made your point. You are upset at the vote. Will that alone win Steve the nomination?

    I understand Merkley visited Prineville in 2005, before he was Speaker or a statewide candidate. Unless you know for a fact that the people who saw Merkley in Prineville in 2005 are all saying "we liked seeing him, but after learning how he voted in 2005....", how do you intend to gain their votes?

    One really has to search the Novick website to find any mention of veterans issues:

    Issues tab on the home page-->Prioritized Defense Spending----->the language on veterans:

    "We need to ensure that our troops are properly equipped. And, of course, we shouldn't be skimping on health care for wounded soldiers and veterans."

    Steve promised me there would be more detail on veterans later.

    Stephanie and E.B. Thom, you may not think it is important for a federal candidate to discuss veterans on his website, but I do.

    You might let us know if this surmise is wrong when you go out door to door or at events for Steve. My guess is there are lots of communities in Oregon where the local folks know someone currently deployed, or a veteran who has been deployed once or more, or perhaps someone from the local community has been a combat casualty.

    Do you really believe you will win the votes of those folks for Steve by saying it was awful that Jeff voted a particular way on a 2003 resolution?

    Or is this more about your own feelings than about gaining votes for Steve?

  • East Bank Thom (unverified)
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    LT, don't pretend to know my motivations and don't put words in my mouth unless you want to keep this issue hot.

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    LT -- to the best of my knowledge, nobody has said that this vote should be the deciding factor in who wins the nomination.

    Correctly, you note that some of us are angry about it. But our issue goes beyond the mere fact of one particular vote. Our issue is that this vote may illuminate am attribute of Jeff Merkley that we consider undesirable in a US Senator or other legislative representative: namely, an inclination to get rolled, or to go along in the name of comity with bad Republican initiatives.

    The vote is just the symptom. I'm much more worried about the disease.

  • timothy james (unverified)
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    I can think of nothing more important than discussing American Foreign Policy in the current US Senate Race. Let the debate begin.

  • LT (unverified)
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    Stephanie---my point was that you should channel your anger into working hard on Steve's campaignn not just venting anger on a blog.

    I know from experience that the work on a primary campaign can be very rewarding personally. And working on a campaign you can say you are supporting Steve because you are worried about Jeff's voting record. You might win some votes saying that to voters face to face. My point is you won't convert those of us here who think there are other discussions which need to take place. For instance, does Steve agree with Admiral (now Congressman) Sestak's views on Iraq? How about Cong. (and National Guard Iraq vet ) Walz? They are both Democratic freshmen.

    It would be more illuminating for me to hear Steve address that. We all know how you feel on the 2003 vote, let's move on to other things.

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    LT,

    since you mention it, in the five days since I made that last post above, I had moved on to other things.

    <h2>Please don't patronize me. Thank you.</h2>
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