Oregon: we're for mavericks

Leslie Carlson

Waynemorse
In Oregon, we like things a little different. Just think about the slogans we’ve used to describe ourselves: “Oregon: Things Look Different Here.” “Oregon. We Love Dreamers.” “Keep Portland Weird.”

We’re the only state with an assisted suicide law and one of only a handful without a sales tax.

Our politicians often sound, look or speak “ different,” too. There was the fiery Wayne Morse and the peace activism of Mark Hatfield. We’ve got the plainspoken Peter Defazio and the representative from my district, the biking-and-bowtie-wearing Earl Blumenauer. (Lest we get diverted, let’s not get into the subject of Bob Packwood. Please.)

My grandma always explained Oregon this way: At a certain point, the pioneers heading West reached a fork in the road. Those that wanted the quick and easy life, sitting in the sun and panning for gold, turned left for California. Those that were a little “different” (by which I think she meant “wrong in the head”) turned right for Oregon.

And we’ve never been able to pump our own gas ever since.

I had an opportunity to work with a Governor often described as a maverick: John Kitzhaber. He didn’t look like your typical politician, unless your typical politician looks like John Wayne. He didn’t sound like a politician, either, but instead spoke of complex policy issues with the fluency of a professor. And his ideas were often different, the most famous of which became the Oregon Health Plan.

We’ve got another such maverick-in-the-making with Steve Novick. Last year, when Novick was the only declared D in the race, I asked a very experienced political consultant if he thought Novick had a chance. “In the right year, he could go all the way,” the consultant replied.

Boy, is this year shaping up to the right one for Novick.

If you haven’t had a chance to hear Novick in person, you have a chance to do so at this event, which features former Gov. Kitzhaber. I guess you could say it’s a two-fer, maverick-wise.

Comments

  • (Show?)

    Mavericks with substance.

    Rebels WITH a cause.

    Yeah.

  • Eric Parker (unverified)
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    Lets not forget Tom McCall. Anyone who has the guts and gumption to stand face to face with Spirious Agnew and call him an SOB to his face is a true Maverick in my book.

  • Micah (unverified)
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    If we're mavericks, that stands to reason we shouldn't go for the "establishment" Dem in the Senate race, yeah?

    Vote Hook!

  • ben rivers (unverified)
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    The Republicans must be sitting back and laughing as we tear our party apart. Dems calling other Dems establishment?...in Oregon?...This is out of control...

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    Don't forget, Tom McCall's mantra: "Visit but don't stay." Hard to imagine a politician making that comment today, but all you furriners have been ignoring him for years, anyway.

  • Ashlander (unverified)
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    Don't you mean we WERE for mavericks? Many of the names cited here are not of recent vintage. And correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't recall the Kitzhaber years as a time of great deeds.

    The unifying trait among Democrats who manage to get elected STATEWIDE in Oregon is their relative caution and blandness. Like Kulongoski, Wyden and yes, if we're smart enough, Merkley.

    This state has gotten much more right-wing than it was in the days of Tom McCall. I'm not happy about it, but neither do I care to delude myself.

    Ever heard the quote, "The perfect is the enemy of the good?" Especially if the "perfect" can't get elected in November.

  • Eric Berg (unverified)
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    Here's how this third generation Oregonian learned it:

    At Parting of the Ways, located in what's now southern Idaho, the Oregon trail split. There was a sign with an arrow pointing northwest with the word "Oregon" and an arrow pointing southwest with the word "California." Those who could read went to Oregon. Those who couldn't went to California.

    I always bring up Wayne Morse when I talk about why I support Steve Novick. And I was I one year-old when Morse left office.

  • (Show?)
    Here's how this third generation Oregonian learned it: At Parting of the Ways, located in what's now southern Idaho, the Oregon trail split. There was a sign with an arrow pointing northwest with the word "Oregon" and an arrow pointing southwest with the word "California." Those who could read went to Oregon. Those who couldn't went to California.

    Hmmm... My greatgrandfather and two of his brothers were among the last to come across on the Trail (Medford Mail Tribune did an article on my GGF sometime in the late 70s). One, my GGF, settled near Medford, one settled near Gold Beach and the other settled at the mouth of the Smith River, which is just barely inside California.

    The brother who settled at Smith River eventually became a Judge for the surrounding territory. The other two were blue collar stiffs their entire lives.

  • BCM (unverified)
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    At Parting of the Ways, located in what's now southern Idaho, the Oregon trail split. There was a sign with an arrow pointing northwest with the word "Oregon" and an arrow pointing southwest with the word "California." Those who could read went to Oregon. Those who couldn't went to California.

    LOL. That could be the beginning of a devastating book on California.

  • naschkatzehussein (unverified)
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    I have lived in Oregon going on 26 years in September, and I love it. I am proud to say that I am a citizen of Oregon. Of the United States, not so much.

  • BCM (unverified)
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    Well, you're at least proud to be a resident of Oregon.

  • (Show?)

    Anyone who hasn't seen Senator Morse speak, oughtta click here for a clip from a documentary about him.

    In response to at TV interviewer who 1964 suggested we should just trust the President:

    "…You’re a man of little faith in democracy…I have complete faith in the American people to follow the facts if you give them. And my charge against my government is we’re not giving the American people the facts."

    It's powerful stuff.

  • BOHICA (unverified)
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    When Wayne Morse changed to an Independent, he moved his desk in the Senate chambers into the aisle.

    Ahh, the good old days.

  • (Show?)

    Yes, let's appeal to Oregon's overinflated sense of specialness and reason by anecdote. Let's find the most "maverick" politicians we can and assert that they are the rule, not the exception.

    Let me know which of our current congressional delegation fits the label "maverick." Quick. DeFazio? Why, because he's "plainspoken"? That makes him a maverick? Blumenauer? Why, because he wears a bow tie and rides a bike?

    The others: Hooley, Wu, Walden. Nary a maverick among them.

    Can you even name a member of Congress prior to 1970? Probably Al Ullman will pop into your head, nice long career but not a particular standout. Willis Hawley? most famous for co-sponsoring one of the worst trade bills in our history.

    How about recently? Wes Cooley? Robert Smith? Jim Bunn? Mike Kopetski? WyattWeaverDuncanDellenback....???

    How about the Senate? Wyden, Smith, Packwood, Hatfield, Morse, Neuberger Neuberger, Lusk, Cordon, McNary ... if you go on back, prior to Morse a pretty undistinguished lot in all honesty for our first century.

    Ok, I'll give you Morse, who switched parties.

    Hatfield? Yes, his Vietnam war position was distinctive, but other than that, had a very distinguished career but not particularly a "maverick".

    I don't know how long we're going to try to live off the aura of a path breaking governor...30 years ago ... and a party switching Senator ... 50 years ago.

    If you want to vote for Steve because he's the best candidate and/or the candidate who can best defeat Gordon Smith, I think that's a fine idea.

    The problem with electing someone just because they can be a "maverick," on the other hand, is that mavericks often speak loudly and accomplish little.

  • Daniel Spiro (unverified)
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    Novick is the Bomb!

    Vote hook.

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    "The problem with electing someone just because they can be a "maverick," on the other hand, is that mavericks often speak loudly and accomplish little."

    Luckily for us, Steve has a proven record of accomplishment as a leader, follower and colleague. Plus he doesn't give up. What I wouldn't give to have "annoying Steve Novick" there, reminding Jay Rockefeller about telecom immunity every time the latter tries to work another capitulation into the mix!

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    Gee, Paul, a bit cranky today?

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    Well if he is, he's pretty convincing in his crankitude...watching Sen. Morse do his thing gives me chills, the likes of which I've really never experienced from any other politician. If there's anyone around capable of reaching those heights, I'd say it's Vicki Walker, but it'll be a couple steps down the road.

    But...Wayne Morse went out on a limb, taking on conventional wisdom in a very public way, staking out a position shared by only one other Senator. That kind of courage is a rare thing. McCall's vision with SB's 10 and 100 and the Greenway initiative seems pretty extraordinary, in a very different way.

    Not sure how you write of McNary, though. It's tough to be a "maverick" when you're a decade-long minority leader, but my understanding is he was pretty instrumental in leading the Republican party in a progressive direction, developing public power, etc.

  • Ten Bears (unverified)
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    As a fourth generation Oregon Logger, I'd argue that [Ken] Kesey summed it up best in "Sometimes a Great Notion" (I do wish you bozos would allow html) - in a westward ho! nutshell this/was the End Of The Road, we didn't necessarily want to be here, but we can't go any farther (furtherer) west... so MAKE THE BEST OF A BAD SITUATION.

  • Jonathan Radmacher (unverified)
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    Paul:

    Your comment perhaps raises the theoretical question of how many mavericks we have to have before we can claim some kind of maverick mantle (and no, I'm not sure we ought to).

    I comment only to quibble about the Senator, Senator Hatfield. You might be a more recent Oregonian, but his opposition to the Gulf of Tonkon resolution was only one. As a Republican, he opposed the death penalty, including supporting a ballot measure not that long ago, to eliminate the death penalty (many democrats now couldn't take such a stand). He also was the single reason why Reagan's balanced-budget amendment failed in the Senate. His story of the pressure brought to bear on him is really quite remarkable. And, in my biased opinion, helps demonstrate his independence, his willingness to stand up for what he believes in. So yes, he was anti-choice for the same reason he was anti-death penalty. And for me, that's a maverick worthy of respect. I'm voting for Novick, not because I think he's necessarily a Mark Hatfield, but because I know that he'll do what he believes in, even if it conflicts with the politics swirling around him

  • Gil Johnson (unverified)
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    Having worked for Sen. Morse, I still marvel that Oregonians elected a man who was so horrible at the glad handing/baby kissing side of politics--and did so four times. People told me they voted for him even though they disagreed withjust about every position he took.

    The Oregon maverick goes back a ways. I think you could put the label on Oregon governors Oz West and Julius Meier.

    As for members of Congress, you definitely could add Charlie Porter, who represented the 4th District for one term, and Jim Weaver, who held the same district for over a decade. Though in these two examples, the term "maverick" might be confused with "marginal sanity."

    Novick is definitely in this tradition. Heck, Merkley might be, too. Vicki Walker definitely is.

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    Gil, if you're gonna bust out Julius Meier, let's give some credit where credit is due...it was George W. Joseph whose platform he rode into office.

  • Robert G. Gourley (unverified)
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    I always bring up Wayne Morse when I talk about why I support Steve Novick.

    Me too, even though he's said he models himself after Paul Wellstone. I was well past voting age when Wayne passed, shortly after being defeated by Packwood.

  • Pat Malach (unverified)
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    Here's SOME VIDEO of Morse facing off with a tobacco-puffing Mike Wallace.

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    torridjoe: Steve has a proven record of accomplishment as a leader, follower and colleague. Plus he doesn't give up.

    Just like Hillary.

    p.s.: You forgot to include a record of using GOP framing against fellow Democrats.

  • (Show?)
    I comment only to quibble about the Senator, Senator Hatfield. You might be a more recent Oregonian, but his opposition to the Gulf of Tonkon resolution was only one.

    Actually, Hatfield wasn't in the Senate at the time of the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin resolution. He was still governor until 1966. Only Senators Wayne Morse and Ernest Gruening (D-AK) voted against it. Even George McGovern voted for it (he says he'd been asked to in order to further LBJ's campaign against Goldwater and that it remains his greatest mistake).

    Hatfield did, however, oppose the Vietnam War, and worked from his earliest days in the Senate (beginning in 1967) to end it, even joining with McGovern to sponsor an amendment to end funding for the war in 1970.

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    p.s.: You forgot to include a record of using GOP framing against fellow Democrats.

    Funny, I don't remember Republicans saying that anyone voting for a resolution that praised George W. Bush or his glorious Iraq war was a bad thing.

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    About Hatfield...

    Jeff Merkley referenced his internship with Sen. Hatfield at a fundraiser with Max Cleland, Jim Rassman and Barbara Roberts a few days ago.

    He spoke about the Presidential Fellowship he won and how he won it. Apparently there were half a dozen openings and a dozen or so candidates who had made it to the final stage - getting grilled by a roomfull of Flag Officers (Generals and Admirals).

    When it was Jeff's turn an officer bluntly asked him why they should pick him when he'd interned for Hatfield and Hatfield routinely voted against military appropriations Bills.

    Demonstrating early his ability to think on his feet and turn a seeming negative into a positive, Jeff responded with the suggestion that he would bring a fresh perspective which was lacking in the Pentagon and that it would contribute to more balanced analysis which would be more useful to the Flag Officers than not having it.

    Merkley walked out of there with a Presidential Fellowship and did it in the finest tradition of Senator Hatfield.

    Steve Novick is no Hatfield. Not by any stretch of the imagination. Where Novick uses derogatory and demeaning language to describe those he disagrees with, Hatfield was scrupulously civil and relied upon the strength of both his convictions and of his argument and then let the chips fall where they may. The only trait they really share is as contrarians. Other than that Novick is essentially the anti-Hatfield.

    Just read how Senator Paul Sarbane (D-MD) described Hatfield at the CRC dedication in 2004:

    He lauded Hatfield's "civility, vision, intelligence and the way he preferred reasoned discourse to invective...I served with him for 20 years and it was a joy to work with him. Mark Hatfield brought a dignity, indeed a nobility to our politics. He set a very high standard of public service. Mark," he said, turning to Hatfield, "we'll do our very best to measure up to your example."

    Novick is no Mark Hatfield!

  • (Show?)
    Steve Novick is no Hatfield. Not by any stretch of the imagination. Where Novick uses derogatory and demeaning language to describe those he disagrees with, Hatfield was scrupulously civil and relied upon the strength of both his convictions and of his argument and then let the chips fall where they may.

    Hatfield also supported George W. Bush for president in 2004. That's a lot of Iraqi chips falling where they may.

    As a senator, I joined with Sen. George McGovern in an unsuccessful effort to end that war. I was the only senator who voted against both the Democrat and Republican resolutions authorizing the use of force in the 1991 Gulf War. ... During my 30 years in the Senate, I never once voted in favor of a military appropriations bill. I know that this record will cause many to wonder why I am such a strong supporter of President Bush and his policy in Iraq. My support is based on the fact that our world changed on Sept. 11, 2001, a day on which we lost more American lives than we did in the attack on Pearl Harbor. I know from my service in the Senate that Saddam Hussein was an active supporter of terrorism. He used weapons of mass destruction on innocent people and left no doubt that he would do so again. It was crucial to the cause of world peace that he be removed from power. ... I believe the choice is clear. I will proudly cast my vote for President George W. Bush.
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    Oh, and there's a lesson from Hatfield that perhaps Jeff Merkley should have paid attention to before he voted for HR2:

    As Oregon's governor, I was the only governor in the nation who refused to sign a statement supporting President Johnson's Vietnam War policy.

    I'll bet that if you'd asked him he would have said he still supported the troops, though.

  • (Show?)

    Darrel,

    You have mischaracterized Hatfield's role at that Governor's Conference. Whether out of ignorance, I am not sure.

    In fact, Hatfield tried to amend it to express support for the troops rather than for just the war itself. His amendment was rejected.

    What Hatfield voted against was fundamentally different from what Merkley voted for. Had his amendment succeeded it would have expressed support for the troops AND for the war and he obviously would have voted for it.

    Had his amendment passed the final resolution would have been virtually identical to what Merkley voted for.

    AND Hatfield would have voted for it for the VERY SAME REASON that Merkley voted for HR2 - to support the troops.

  • (Show?)

    Here is a reprint of a 1966 feature article that Time magazine did on Vietnam which features Mark Hatfield.

    Hatfield was a much-beloved Oregon maverick.

    Novick is no Hatfield.

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    How easy it is to mislead if you don't provide the quote, Kevin. Here's the summary from the NGA meeting you referred to:

    Governor Mark Hatfield of Oregon sought to amend the resolution to affirm support of servicemen in Vietnam rather than of the war itself, but his amendment failed prior to adoption of the original resolution.

    Hatfield tried to change the resolution to support the troops instead of the war, not add it on.

    That's why the amendment didn't pass. That's why Hatfield ended up voting against it.

    You should read your history more closely before accusing others of being ignorant, Kevin.

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