Novick and Obama: The politics of authenticity

Charlie Burr

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From this morning's Steve Duin column in The Oregonian:

[W]hile hosting his public affairs show, "Outlook Portland," over the past three years, [Nick] Fish got to watch the naturals in action. He learned what resonated with people. Barbara Roberts was a revelation. As difficult as I may find this to believe, Ted Kulongoski won over everyone in the studio. And Fish came to understand something that helps to explain why Steve Novick and Barack Obama are doing so much better this year than their overly scripted opponents.

"When you stand up and say, 'Look at all the wonderful things I've done for you,' you might as well be speaking Greek to a French audience," Fish said. "People respond to values; they don't respond to laundry lists. When you put your values front and center, you also put who you are front and center, and people are starved for authentic figures in politics."

Nick Fish credits Novick and Obama for running bottom-up campaigns that tell voters who they are and what they really believe:

"If we know nothing about Obama, we understand his values, who he is and what he believes in," Fish said. "People feel a visceral connection to him, a connection that's stronger than the connection to his opponent."

While Merkley, speaker of the Oregon House, has run the most sanitized, tone-deaf campaign in recent memory, Novick not only has a literal hook but a narrative one as well.

"With Novick, it's the value of candor and conviction and a reasonable dose of self-deprecating humor. Steve puts front and center who he is and what he believes. He tells stories and answers questions directly. He's made a virtue out of being partisan."

Discuss.

Comments

  • (Show?)

    Thanks for posting this, Charlie.

    I think it summarizes very well a big part of Steve's appeal.

    "Authenticity" is widely discussed and narrowly possessed in politics. Novick has it. Paradoxically, while it draws people to him, it also makes it easier to disagree with him, because instead of pandering to the listener, he lets you know where he stands.

    Thus the scenario we've seen repeatedly this primary season of people like me, TJ, Colin Maloney, etc. supporting Steve ardently while still acknowledging disagreement with him on important issues here and there. We trust him because we feel his core values are knowable and we share them.

  • (Show?)

    David Sarasohn also highlighted something about Steve the other day that I really like. You hear things from him that you don't expect to hear from people running for office in that he speaks plainly, but thoroughly, about complicated subjects.

    "The first thing," he [Novick] told a fundraising rally in North Portland on Wednesday evening, deadpan, "I'll introduce a bill requiring the IRS to send each taxpayer a thank-you note." At least we know the IRS has your address. But with Novick, it's another sign of his insistence that he can run for office talking directly about how government works and how it gets paid for. "Republicans don't trust people to know that those evil taxes go to popular services," Novick adds, "and Democrats don't want anybody to know that popular services are expensive."

    I second Stephanie's comment about Steve's authenticity. He's not going around to bars downing shots of whiskey to try and demonstrate that he's something he's not. He's, to my estimation, entirely himself and comfortable in his own skin. That's something I've found to be rare in people in general and seemingly nonexistent in Electeds/Electeds-To-Be.

    He's straightforward and frank and he (correctly) believes that voters don't need to be treated with kid gloves. We're responsible for making big decisions and more if more candidates had the kind of faith in us that Steve does, I think they'd find that people appreciate it and would respond accordingly.

  • JHL (unverified)
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    Of course Novick frames the discussion on values; he hasn't held public office before and therefore hasn't quite the laundry list that Merkley has amassed.

    Having said that, he's lucky to have people like Charlie Burr, who can adeptly frame the framing decision itself as one of "authenticity" rather than "necessity."

    I like Steve and I respond well to the "politics of authenticity" and values-talk when someone is on TV or speaking at a rally... but when it's just me and my ballot, I do care about knowing how effective a person has been at translating those values to results.

    It's a tough decision, but I haven't marked that race on my ballot yet. I'd say the burden of persuasion is on Novick, though.

  • (Show?)

    JHL, I guess the question in my mind would be, what additional information do you feel you need, that you don't already have, to help you make that decision?

  • Runtmg (unverified)
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    I don't agree with the idea that Merkley has ran a tone deaf campaign. I think that he has ran to his strengths which is his experience in the legislature. No, he doesn't have a hook or a "partisan" personality. Simply speaking, he is a quality legislator and it isn't as exciting as Novick.

    In regards to Novick, look folks, Steve's "candor" can come off just as tone deaf as anyone elses ear. There is a reason why democrats don't want to talk about taxes and why Republicans win races against Democrats when Dems are painted as Tax and Spend liberals. People hate paying taxes period and that is about as honest as it will get.

    I am an independent and didn't vote for either candidate, although I will vote for the nominee but of all the things to make an issue about...taxes?

    A strong word to the Novick supporters and camp, if Novick pulls out a win you had better be prepared for Smith to misconstrue, lie and outright falsify Novick into the ground. While that seems self explanatory and should be expected Novick's theatrics could cost him in the fall.

  • (Show?)

    "be prepared for Smith to misconstrue, lie and outright falsify Novick into the ground."

    That's certainly what we're hoping the plan is. It turned out Merkley wasn't brave enough to challenge on policy, so he went where you go when you ain't got nothing left.

    Is Smith going to challenge Novick on Smith's record? No. Steve will eat Gordon alive if he manages to put the focus on the last 12 years. Like Merkley, Smith will find that without a traditional record to attack you essentially have to destroy him personally. Which is a risky strategy, although he's certainly good at it. The best Merkley did was stuff about other Democrats. That's not anything Smith can use to get indies and Republicans to vote against him, so there isn't much for Gordon to borrow. from Jeff either.

    If Novick wins he'll be a national candidate, picked out from the crowd as one of the two or three symbolic challengers in the Senate--like Webb and Tester were in 06. Just being the gritty underdog with the obvious bio has established a national profile, if only for the commercial. But with no primary of divided loyalty anymore, individual Democrats from across the country will get involved. I think they probably would with Merkley too, but I think Novick will spark more of a phenomenon.

    Theater is part of politics. It's a shame when theater is all your candidate has, but when he has the goods AND can sell it, I say run with that candidate because success will follow.

  • (Show?)

    We expect a lot from our elected officials. We should.

    Finding both substance and charm in one person is not an easy order to fill (just ask any single looking for a mate). Let us all hope this is a genesis for our politicians to transition out of being "Just a bunch of people who will do the job and inflate their personal stature" to "Representatives that think and act inkeeping with those they represent".

  • (Show?)

    Tone-deaf?

    Tone-deaf knocked down a 12 point Novick lead to a 2 point Novick lead among Dems in three weeks? Is Nick Fish saying that Dem voters are stupid?

    Tone-deaf gained ground on Gordon Smith among all Oregonians at twice the rate Novick gained ground. So... Fish isn't just saying that Dems are stupid, he's saying that all Oregonians are stupid?

    Of course, this would be the same Nick Fish who posits that actual accomplishments aren't as important to voters as values, as if accomplishments aren't the proof of the values pudding.

    So apparently we're to understand from Nick Fish that only those voters and newspapers who respond favorably to Novick are thinking, reasoning and objective. Everyone else is presumably tone-deaf. The Sierra Club? Tone-deaf. Basic Rights Oregon? Tone-deaf. Humane Society? Tone-deaf. Planned Parenthood? Tone-deaf. AFSCME? Tone-Deaf. SEIU? Tone-deaf. The roomful of volunteers gathered together to canvass for Merkley last weekend? Tone-deaf.

    Wow... who knew? Apparently just Novick, Fish, Duin and Burr.

  • SBC (unverified)
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    Kevin,

    Once again, you have a contextual reading problem. He said the Merkley CAMPAIGN was tone-deaf, not its supporters. The campaign hasn't been able to hit the right notes to be able to connect with voters the same way the Novick campaign has been able to hit most of the right notes. That's why the Merkley campaign, which started off with more money and more institutional support, has been floundering.

  • Robert G. Gourley (unverified)
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    Could change politics for all time.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    I like Steve and I respond well to the "politics of authenticity" and values-talk when someone is on TV or speaking at a rally... but when it's just me and my ballot, I do care about knowing how effective a person has been at translating those values to results.

    People have been buying into arguments for many years about liking what candidates say but don't think they will be effective, and they vote for the one they believe will get things done. Guess what!! That helps to explain why we have so many wretched creatures in Congress and state legislatures, and that in turn helps to explain why Congress has a worse rating than Bush. It also helps to explain why people calling themselves progressives ignored the campaigns of Russ Feingold, Dennis Kucinich and, yes, Ralph Nader. Name one candidate running for office who has better progressive credentials.

    On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 going to the most progressive rate Feingold, Kucinich, Nader, Obama and Clinton.

    Voting for authentic candidates with the integrity to be honest with voters may mean you didn't pick the winner, but elections aren't supposed to be like a horse race. They are a chance for citizens to express themselves and let the political parties know what they want. The Republican party gets the message the people want McCain, the chameleon, and the Democratic party thinks the people aren't that interested in progressives, so we get Obama and Hillary.

    It's too late now to do something about making a progressive statement in the presidential race because we are locked into choosing someone to keep McCain's finger off the trigger, but we still can choose progressive, non-politicians in the state races. Vote Novick.

  • (Show?)

    SBC: The campaign hasn't been able to hit the right notes to be able to connect with voters the same way the Novick campaign has been able to hit most of the right notes.

    LOL - and that explains why Merkley gained 10 points on Novick among Dems in three weeks? And why Merkley has gained on Smith at a rate consistently twice that of Novick, among all Oregonians, since February despite having an arguably lower name ID? And, of course, why Smith is now running ads only on Merkley?

  • Opinionated (unverified)
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    Novick's campaign is littered with defensive postures and negatives about Merkeley. He is telling people who he is NOT and defending himself along with attacks on Merkeley. His is focus has never been on his accomplishments, however flimsy they might be.

    I am reminded of Novick's comment in the WW video. He would not pick Merkeley but Bluemenauer (sp?), who is not even running for Senate. That summed up his campaign.

    This hook and slick strategy is great to garner attention. Is it enough to get votes? We shall see on May 20th. Jeff is the real deal with solid experience. Gordon Smith will chew up Novick with his negative campaigning.

  • (Show?)

    Robert G Gourley: Could change politics for all time.

    I sure hope that was snark, Mr. Gourley, and you don't really believe it.

    My greatest fear if Mr. Novick wins the primary, is that he'll be boxed in by moderates who want someone who can actually be effective in the Senate, and his base who want a guy screaming to the rafters.

    Every time I try to console myself by saying, "Steve's smart - he can bite his tongue if he needs to", I'm reminded that a lot of his base hate even the premise of the Senate; it was set up by our founding fathers to essentially force compromise.

    If Steve's a winner, I'm just counting the months until torridjoe decides he's a "traitor".

  • (Show?)

    Nice irony. A transplanted New Yorker, Nick Fish, criticizing two native Oregonians - Novick and Smith - over their relative authenticity.

  • (Show?)

    "I am reminded of Novick's comment in the WW video. He would not pick Merkeley but Bluemenauer (sp?), who is not even running for Senate. That summed up his campaign."

    That paragraph pretty much sums up your comment. Blumenauer??

    Steve Mauer, when has Novick ever been boxed in by anybody? Rather the point, I think. The archaic way you look at politics is perhaps why you choose the same old politics Merkley is employing.

    But there's a new way, with new people ready to act on principle rather than Chuck Schumer's say-so. Get on board now before you get left behind.

  • (Show?)

    Kevin, Go look at the relative favorability ratings in the latest Rasmussen poll, which show Jeff with both lower favorables and higher negatives than Steve -- and which oddly enough are absent from pro-Merkley glosses on the poll ;->

    As I argue over there, that's mixed news for Steve, since his favorables are higher than his in-sample vote vs. Smith, i.e. not translating favorables into votes. But the data undermine a lot of claims about Steve's style being alienating, and also weaken "trend line" arguments for Jeff's prospects vs. Smith, IMO.

    And someone who whines as much as you have been lately, rather inexplicably, about some alleged incivility by Charlie towards you, invisible to anyone else, you really might want to check your tone here. Really.

    P.S. Please take the last comment in light of my kudos to you for your approach in your latest column.

    Time for everyone to unwind themselves a little. Deep breaths. Long focus on a flower bud. Take a walk or a run or a swim or a bike ride. We can do it. Yes we can.

  • (Show?)

    Incomplete sentence edits cause fractured grammar! Yay! My latest entry: "you really might want to check your tone here. Really." should be "really might want to check his tone here. Really." What follows still applies.

  • (Show?)

    "Time for everyone to unwind themselves a little"

    Tell the Merkley campaign--they just released a litany of bullshit and scumbag tactics in an email to the 30% of his supporters who can actually vote for him. I'm sorry, but Matt Canter is proving to be a real sleazeball unworthy of Oregon politics--take it back to Minnesota, Matt. But of course Canter does nothing Merkley doesn't approve, so you have to wonder why Merkley is in the gutter with him.

    Oh no we don't, that's right. When Merkley gets behind, he gets nasty. That's his history!

  • (Show?)

    LOL - and that explains why Merkley gained 10 points on Novick among Dems in three weeks?

    That's due entirely to paid media, Kev. That's Merkley's television buy coming into play.

    The real question you should be asking yourself why it is that Merkley was trailing by 10 points in the first place, despite having the lion's share of institutional support from before day 1 of his campaign.

    The DSCC has spent more money on Merkley's campaign than any other in the country to this point, yet he had to sell a house in order to raise the money he needed to be competitive with a supposed "placeholder candidate" in the Democratic Primary despite having about 3x as much money in the bank prior to selling the house.

    The question voters should be asking themselves is whether they think a similar campaign strategy -- raise more money than your opponent and rely on paid media to carry the day -- is going to win against a guy with 3-4 times the money and 4 times the name-recognition in the general election.

  • (Show?)

    But the data undermine a lot of claims about Steve's style being alienating

    It's POLITICALLY alienating, as the Rassmussen data shows.

    Change the context a wee bit to the Presidential primary. I long since lost count of how many progressive expressed sincere fondness for Kucinich and what he was saying but then in the next breath announced that they support one of the other candidates.

    That's the same thing we're seeing here. Liking what someone says and finding that style appropriate for the office are clearly two different things.

    I'd love to see a President speak bluntly to Putin's face. It'd feel good to see Putin squirm. But it'd be monumentally stupid at the same time.

    I, as an American citizen, don't have a right to place my selfish desire to see my President land a rhetorical blow above the good of the other 300+ million Americans.

    Personally alienating and politically alienating are two fundamentally different things.

  • Alberto Borges (unverified)
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    Hillary Clinton will be our next president.

    Hillary is smarter than Obama and more humble person.I think that many people don't think to much before giving a support to a candidate or they are putting personal interests over the nation interests.

    The politic is not dirty like many people saiy. The people make politics are whose can be honest or dirty.

    Hillary the best candidate for president.

    Alberto

  • (Show?)

    how does rasmussen show it's political alienation from Novick?

    Novick 41% Merkley 42%

    Is Merkley alienating too?

  • Pmiller (unverified)
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    I think it is worth repeating here: I received a thank you note for a donation I made to INDN's list, the "Indigenous Democratic Network" which helps get Indians elected to office. On of the founders of INDN's list, Kalyn Free, hand wrote a couple of unsolicited post-it notes, which said the following:

    "I worked with Steve Novick, one of your US Senate Candidates for 8 years at the US Department of Justice -He is without a doubt, the most talented, passionate, and dedicated public servant I have ever known. I count him as one of my dearest friends. I will be in Portland for his Primary election. If you are not committed to Merkley, I hope you will vote for and support Novick, all the best, Kalyn"

    www.indnslist.org

    Incidentally, Novick's new position paper on the Palestine-Israel conflict is posted at: Novick's The Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process Position Paper

    This puts to bed the response by Merkley's camp that Novick's position is just as AIPAC driven as Merkley's was. It is principle driven. Novick admitted he needs to learn more about what is happening in Palestine/Israel and is committed to learning more from both sides. I believe him.

    At a house party on Saturday, Novick was asked how he would hold to his principles and withstand the pressures of the Democratic party to toe the line. He said that since he is the grassroots candidate, not selected by Schumer and company (Schumer is apparently livid that Novick dares run against the chosen one), his brand IS based on the grassroots support for his fresh and principled approach, and he cannot go against what got him elected.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    That's the same thing we're seeing here. Liking what someone says and finding that style appropriate for the office are clearly two different things.

    I'd love to see a President speak bluntly to Putin's face. It'd feel good to see Putin squirm. But it'd be monumentally stupid at the same time.

    This is where judgment comes in. A representative or senator may be candid enough to say what he or she believes needs to be said in Congress even though it is provocative. In a different situation, that same person may have the good judgment to be more diplomatic.

    As for Putin, it is unlikely that any American in Washington will be in a position to make him squirm, much as we may like to see that happen. Russia is sitting on enormous oil and gas reserves so that Putin was able to make Ukraine and other parts of Europe squirm. His recent friendly gestures towards Iran could be causing many in the Bush Administration to squirm.

  • Robert G. Gourley (unverified)
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    He would not pick Merkeley but Bluemenauer (sp?), who is not even running for Senate.

    John Frohnmayer, Steve said John Frohnmayer - then when corrected about the need for the person to be in the room, he chose Candy.

  • (Show?)

    That's due entirely to paid media, Kev. That's Merkley's television buy coming into play.

    A "tone-deaf" campaign, by definition, wouldn't have surged like that, Sal.

    The real question you should be asking yourself why it is that Merkley was trailing by 10 points in the first place

    Look at his endorsements, Sal. THAT is what he was doing while Novick was popping beer caps.

    You wanna talk about a badly managed, "tone-deaf" campaign? A well-managed campaign by a strong candidate wouldn't have lost endorsement after endorsement to a "tone-deaf," poorly managed campaign and then turn around and have it's online goon-squad malign every endorsing entity which he didn't get as some sort of "establishment" conspiracy.

  • (Show?)

    "wouldn't have lost endorsement after endorsement to a "tone-deaf," poorly managed campaign and then turn around and have it's online goon-squad malign every endorsing entity which he didn't get as some sort of "establishment" conspiracy."

    You mean like how you maligned the OEA endorsement, how The O was apparently looking to help Smith, and how John Kitzhaber backs losers? Like that?

  • (Show?)

    LMS, your comment is a non sequitur. Fish isn't inauthentic because of his birthplace, nor is Gordon Smith because of his, for that matter. The authenticity claim is about public persona matching putative internal reality.

    Personally I don't value this as much as many people do, and tend to distrust that it's true in many asserted cases. But it does seem that for many people their perception of authenticity relates to their degree of trust.

    While I favor Steve and think Stever Maurer's rhetoric about him overheated if not downright histrionic, the claim that Steve is more "authentic" than Jeff seems unfounded.

    Since they have different personalities, their authentic expressions of self will also look different.

    TJ, you are misreading Steve M. I believe, whether intentionally I am not sure. But pretty clearly by "boxed in" he means by two different groups of voters. He's concerned that if Steve N. tries to reassure "moderates" that he'll be able to operate temperately and not self-destructively, that will disappoint and de-energize us raging loons who currently support him, and that we will force him to be outrageous to satisfy us and lose the moderates.

    Steve M., I don't think that Steve N. will be boxed in by his current supporters on that side of your worry as expressed here. The campaign question is more whether Smith may be able to "define" Novick as a "negative" guy & thereby both blunt efforts by Steve to expose Smith's false persona and make an argument for himself as likely to be more effective in the Senate. That question may turn to a considerable degree on the national race -- either Democrat will be able to argue that they'll be joining a Democratic majority in the Senate, and if Obama does well that they'll be working with a president of their own party. Conversely, the stronger McCain, the better for Smith.

    That's a separate argument from the "who'd make a better senator" argument, of course. Would Steve be "boxed in" by the institution? Maybe. On the other hand it actually appears to be very common in the Senate for people to act like the old Sheepdog & Wolf cartoons, where they're at each other tooth and nail until they punch out at the timeclock on the tree & say goodnight in a friendly co-worker way while the new shift punches in. There's a huge degree of acceptance of theatrics in the Senate that doesn't appear to impede behind the scenes collaborations.

    "[I]'m reminded that a lot of his base hate even the premise of the Senate; it was set up by our founding fathers to essentially force compromise."

    No, it was set up as a curb to democracy: to give small states a disproportionate voice, not to force compromise, but as a compromise forced on the Convention in order to secure initial agreement and ratification (still in effect); to protect the interests of large holders of property by virtue of indirect election (now abolished); and to protect the interests of slave-holders in particular.

    Many of the customary rules of the Senate are established nowhere except by choice of senators to continue them, with the traditions involved going back to the period of Jim Crow southern Democratic domination of seniority. Some of them could stand to be abolished, or at very least reformed to strip away Republican abuse by turning occasional practices into permanent ones.

    Neither Steve nor Jeff will be in much of a position to change those sorts of things in their first terms, because of the way seniority works.

  • (Show?)

    "TJ, you are misreading Steve M. I believe, whether intentionally I am not sure. But pretty clearly by "boxed in" he means by two different groups of voters."

    No, I get it--but being "boxed in" suggests that Novick will attempt to adjust his principles based on whether "moderates" are approving of him. The entire premise of expectations that Novick sees different groups of voters as different constituencies that need to be addressed differently, is exactly the old style of politics that we're attempting to move beyond. Moderate his tone? Maybe. Modifying positions based on what "the moderates want?" I sincerely doubt it.

  • (Show?)

    The thing the Clinton/Obama and Merkley/Novick races have in common the most is a barely perceptible difference between the candidates on policy. Late-coming gimmicks like the "gas holiday" aside, the stances of all four of these candidates on major issues are smaller than the compromises that would be required to put any bill into law; that is, their differences will be completely erased by political bargaining.

    Duin is right, it comes down to character; which includes the ability to bargain effectively with those who don't support your agenda. I would encourage anyone still undecided in either race to choose based on who they think can best break deadlock in Washington by cooperating in civil tones with Republicans to move our agenda forward. The senate will still require a supermajority to approve controversial legislation come next January.

  • (Show?)

    torridjoe: Modifying positions based on what "the moderates want?" I sincerely doubt it.

    I doubt it too - even if it means the difference between winning and losing the seat.

    That what terrifies me.

    Then we'll be stuck with 6 more years of a 90% Bush Republican, because even a hint of moderation and/or compromise with people he disagrees with goes entirely against Mr. Novick's political branding.

  • (Show?)

    "I doubt it too - even if it means the difference between winning and losing the seat.

    That what terrifies me."

    Doesn't seem to be any reason to be scared. Novick does as well among conservative Dems as he does liberal Dems. And we've noticed the right seems to like him too.

    Didn't Bush teach you anything? It's not the policies, it's the force of conviction and the values they present. Straight talk is appealing across the board, even if for many he's saying things they disagree with.

    This is the 2008 election, not the 2002 election.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    There is a weakness in the argument in favor of voting for someone who will be effective and get things done if it doesn't consider what is likely to "get done." Many New Yorkers, I'm sure, voted for Chuck Schumer (Merkley's sponsor) on the basis that he was the kind of person who would "get things done." One of his more recent achievements was to get Michael Mukasey approved by the senate judiciary committee to become Attorney General making him more effective in helping Bush evade the law than Gonzales. And that is not the only skunk in Schumer's backyard.

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    Bush, the "Uniter - not the divider"? Bush, the "Compassionate Conservative"? Bush, nearly the first sitting wartime President ousted from office?

    That force of conviction?

    Are you honestly telling me, Mark, that you think that Bush would have been elected - if he'd been as nakedly forthright in spelling out what he was going to do, as Steve is being now?

    To me, "Hey, I'm going to start a war, cause I want to!" isn't the best way to win an election. But neither is, "Hey middle class! I may very well raise your taxes!" - whether it's a good policy or not.

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    "Are you honestly telling me, Mark, that you think that Bush would have been elected - if he'd been as nakedly forthright in spelling out what he was going to do, as Steve is being now?"

    That doesn't seem relevant--only that Bush was PERCEIVED to be the candidate showing himself, rather than his list of accomplishments. Obviously in an election the candidate's actual authenticity is subordinate to his perceived authenticity.

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    TJ

    Didn't Bush teach you anything? It's not the policies, it's the force of conviction and the values they present. Straight talk is appealing across the board, even if for many he's saying things they disagree with. Bush a straight talker? In what universe? Not this one. Bush has accomplished what he has with lies, misrepresentations, and rigid partisan conformity by Republicans in Congress, combined with timidity on the part of Democratic leadership in resisting, or in some cases, wrong-headed Democratic agreement (e.g. trade deals, domestic spying legislation). Steve M & TJ, you both seem to be agreeing that Steve N being forthright means ignoring "moderates." I don't accept the premise. I think Steve can & will be forthright while being willing to listen and think, and conveying that willingness. I also think he will be strong in pulling back the curtain of Smith's claims to moderation and exposing the 90% pro-Bush record Steve M points out.
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    You mean like how you maligned the OEA endorsement

    I didn't malign it at all, I questioned what their basis was. But since you've brought it up...

    I have yet to hear a reasonable explanation for why Novick turned his back on NCLB (costing Oregon $750 million per year) to focus on the Oregon Lottery which recouped less than a fifth of that amount for Oregon schools. Nor have I heard a good explanation for why the OEA, which was openly begging for someone to push back on NCLB, didn't push Steve to explain himself.

    After all Steve is the one who said just a few months ago,

    "For it is, and always should have been, fairly obvious that NCLB was, from the beginning, the domestic policy equivalent of the war in Iraq - a proposal sold on blatantly false pretenses, to fulfill an agenda that had little or nothing to do with the Administration's stated rationale."
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    "Bush has accomplished what he has with lies, misrepresentations, and rigid partisan conformity by Republicans in Congress, combined with timidity on the part of Democratic leadership in resisting, or in some cases, wrong-headed Democratic agreement (e.g. trade deals, domestic spying legislation)."

    I wasn't speaking about his administration, I was speaking about his election. And there's no doubt he was elected on the basis of his down to earth straight talk. Of COURSE it was all lies, but many bought it.

    The underlying mendacity isn't the issue, except to the extent that voters are now looking for even better signs of clear positions and values as a result of Bush's. The point is whether voters will choose someone they perceive as not feeding them a line of crap.

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    "I have yet to hear a reasonable explanation for why Novick turned his back on NCLB (costing Oregon $750 million per year) to focus on the Oregon Lottery which recouped less than a fifth of that amount for Oregon schools."

    One's an issue of federal funding, the other is an issue of state funding?

  • (Show?)

    Novick turned his back on NCLB

    Kevin, as you tirelessly remind us, Steve wasn't in the Legislature and had no ready line of attack on NCLB as a private citizen. Where was Jeff Merkley, with his heroic legislative powers, when NCLB needed to be attacked?

    Each of these candidates has had access to a different toolkit to address our most pressing problems. Each should be measured by his performance with the tools at hand (or at hook, as the case may be).

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    Look at his endorsements, Sal. THAT is what he was doing while Novick was popping beer caps.

    Kev, you appear to be laboring under the delusion that winning some endorsements is the equivalent of running a good campaign. Endorsements are meaningful in terms of communications to those groups members and as a vehicle for raising money. They are not unimportant, but neither are they everything as you seem to be making them out to be.

    Steve ran a smart, grassroots campaign. Jeff hasn't. I could explain that in terms of the total lack of interest for his house party organizing, despite having the best organizer in the state helping him. I could also explain it in terms of weak poll numbers despite having Barbara Roberts and every member of the house campaigning for him, etc.

    At the end of the day, unless you are trying to make the case that night is day and black is white, there is no getting around the fact that in order to be competitive at the end of the race, Merkley had to sell one of his houses to buy enough media to make up ground against a supposedly weak opponent and that he felt that he had to go negative.

    He would not have done either of those things if he were in a comfortable position, and the only credible explanation for his being in that position is that he has been out-campaigned and needs to make up for it by outspending his opponent 4 or 5 to 1 at the end of the race to have a shot of winning the primary.

    You may not like hearing that. But it's also the truth, and I suspect that you understand that as well as I do.

  • Alberto Borges (unverified)
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    I would like to know what meaning frienship and honor for politician.

    Alberto

  • Alberto Borges (unverified)
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    I would like to know what meaning friendship and honor for politician.

    Alberto

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    Also, to the best of my knowledge, I've never described Merkley's campaign as "tone-deaf".

    I have said that it would be a mistake to think that Smith is somehow tone-deaf, but that's not the same thing at all.

  • Alberto Borges (unverified)
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    Who is Steve Novick?

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    Kev, you appear to be laboring under the delusion that winning some endorsements is the equivalent of running a good campaign. Endorsements are meaningful in terms of communications to those groups members and as a vehicle for raising money. They are not unimportant, but neither are they everything as you seem to be making them out to be.

    You're moving the goal posts, Sal.

    Nobody is under any delusion that winning endorsements is the sum total of what makes a good campaign. You asked why Jeff was 10 points down to begin with. Remember?

    I pointed out that while Steve was popping beer caps Jeff was securing endorsements and working on securing endorsements... which have since kept rolling in.

    Steve popping beer caps on TV is why he had a 10 point advantage in name ID. Although that doesn't really explain why Rassmussen shows Merkley gaining ground during the very period in which Steve was running ads and Jeff wasn't.

    Fast-forward to April when Jeff starts running ads to get his name ID up and get his message out to a wider audience.

    Steve can't go back and work on getting those endorsements he lost out on, but Jeff can work on getting both his name ID and message out in a more competitive way compared to Steve.

    Seems pretty clear to me that Jeff ran by FAR the smarter campaign.

    Interstingly enough... Obama also once trailed his chief rival, only to come from behind, snag a bunch of key labor endorsements, and get his message and ID out with his superior financing... just as Merkley has done to his chief rival.

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    Nobody is under any delusion that winning endorsements is the sum total of what makes a good campaign.

    You sure seem to be. It's been your only response when people point out that Merkley has run a bad campaign. I seem to recall that you actually copied and pasted an endorsement list as the sole response to a similar point. Twice.

    I pointed out that while Steve was popping beer caps Jeff was securing endorsements and working on securing endorsements... which have since kept rolling in.

    Hey, I noticed. I keep thinking that WillyWeek or the O are meaningful endorsements and then you posted that eHarmony.com or eIjustMadeUpaCrappyDomain.com had endorsed Jeff and it totally disabused me of that notion. Thanks for that.

    Seems pretty clear to me that Jeff ran by FAR the smarter campaign.

    Jeff Merkley could trip on the way to the podium and you'd call him a genius for lowering expectations.

    All you need to do is look at Gordon's hit pieces to understand how many mistakes Merkley has made during this campaign.

    I repeat:

    At the end of the day, unless you are trying to make the case that night is day and black is white, there is no getting around the fact that in order to be competitive at the end of the race, Merkley had to sell one of his houses to buy enough media to make up ground against a supposedly weak opponent and that he felt that he had to go negative.

    He would not have done either of those things if he were in a comfortable position, and the only credible explanation for his being in that position is that he has been out-campaigned and needs to make up for it by outspending his opponent 4 or 5 to 1 at the end of the race to have a shot of winning the primary.

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    there is no getting around the fact that in order to be competitive at the end of the race, Merkley had to sell one of his houses to buy enough media to make up ground

    LOL - Which of course explains why Merkley had already erased Novick's lead BEFORE taking out the loan.

    This may come as a life-changing shock to you Sal, but there is a school of thought in American politics which says that coming out of a Primary Electio with a strong surge rather than settling for a mere win is a smart strategy for going into a General Election. But then look who I'm having to point that self-evident fact out to - the President of a political consulting firm. Silly me...

    Be careful out there, Sal. Occam's Razor has a sharp edge on it. I'd hate to see you seriously damage your credibility on it.

  • William of Occam (unverified)
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    Dear Kevin,

    For the love of Christ, PLEASE stop using my name.

    Sincerely,

    Will'am

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    Progressives, at least those claiming to be such, passed up a chance to get the message to the Democratic Party that they are a force by automatically going with other, non-progressive candidates who could be perceived as potential winners. Does anyone have any information about how the abandonment of both parties by former Democrats and Republicans to independent status has influenced the parties? It seems plausible that both parties and candidates have modified their positions to get the independent vote and equally conceivable that if progressives had done something similar the Democratic Party might have offered a more progressive platform.

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    "equally conceivable that if progressives had done something similar the Democratic Party might have offered a more progressive platform."

    Bill, it's pretty to think so, but that wouldn't exactly be how I'd read the response to Nader 2000.

    Republican shifts to independent didn't cause the Rs to modify their position to get that vote. It actually led them to move further right, because the harder right forces in the party organized autonomously within that context & built up a mass movement oriented to the party (largely church-networked). At the same time they committed a lot of resources to a general ideological fight and communication (massive think-tank / message refining network plus sophisticated media attack strategy to get favorable coverage even while persisting in "liberal media" victim politics). The ideological work supported the mass movement while also leading "independents" to accept increasingly conservative positions as defining "moderate."

    In Gramscian terms, the Right fought a highly successful war of position in defining the terms of ideological hegemony.

    Progressives face two problems about doing similarly. First, their/our sources of funding won't invest in the ideological piece by building up educational foundations to develop policies and arguments for them. Second, despite the existence of the Libertarians, there is nothing on the right comparable to the left tradition of refusing to cooperate with capitalist parties, which lives on not only in the sectarian socialist toy microparties, but also in the fights among Greens in 2004 that had Nader supporters ripping up Cobb over "safe states" even while Nader was playing footsie with Republicans and Buchananites. Not a way to build a mass movement, whether inside or outside the immeidiate DP ambit, to shift the weight of the party ideologically.

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    After reading this rather long set of comments, I have to ask, after weighing the number of pro-Novick comments against the pro-Merkley comments: Do supporters of Novick actually have jobs? Seems like they have an awful lot of time on their hands.

  • trishka (unverified)
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    no no, we're all shiftless lazy WELFARE QUEENS!

    except for those of us who are wealthy elite entitled TRUSTAFARIANS!!!

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    I happen to know that William of Occam hasn't worked in a year.

    %^>

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    Thanks for the clarification on the "employment" question.

  • Mjordan (unverified)
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    To Jamais Vu and others -- you are, respectfully, wrong. There is a huge difference between Hillary and Obama in one area -- Obama is pro-nuke! He is a big-time pro-nuke in Illinois, and voted "yes" for the Cheney energy bill. Don't be fooled -- he is not as green as he'd like you to believe!

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