WW Comes Out With Same Gore-Kitzhaber History I Reported

Les AuCoin

While Charlie Burr at BlueOregon accused me of stooping "to take the luster off" the Al Gore endorsement of Bradbury by reporting here on the genuine history of bad blood between Gore and Kitzhaber, over at Willamette Week, reporter Hank Stern admits that, journalistically, I simply beat him to a interesting background story.

In his article today, "Al Gore, John Kitzhaber & Not So Ancient History," Stern writes:

"I [Stern] had planned a follow-up ... for next week’s paper on the back story of how Gore fought Kitzhaber’s Oregon Health Plan when Gore was in the Senate. Former U.S. Rep. Les AuCoin (D-Ore.) beat us to the punch on Blue Oregon this morning by providing that history, which included a back-and-forth between Kitzhaber and Gore that had Kitzhaber endorsing heavy underdog Bill Bradley over Gore in the 2000 presidential primaries.

[At BlueOregon, Burr apologized for wrongly stating that I wrote as a Kitzhaber partisan (I have not endorsed a candidate) but he did not remove his post which ascribes tawdry motives to mine ("Subtext of Gore Endorsement: Gotcha Back, Kitz"). I merely provided historical context to the news event--just as Willamette Week planned to do first.]

Another BlueOregon reader accused me of "stretching" the truth of the Gore-Kitz relationship to fit my "preferred" narrative--although I was there and he wasn't.

I'd like to believe that most BlueOregon readers can handle a political truth--that a single event can have multiple layers of meaning and complexity--just as well as WW readers can, even if some BlueOregon contributors and commenters evidentially cannot. And that BlueOregon readers regard such knowledge as edifying, not maligning.

In his article, the WW's Stern quotes Josh Kardon, chief of staff for Wyden, who was the Oregon delegation's point man in getting Kitzhaber's innovative Oregon Health Plan past Gore, whose bitter opposition strained relations with the then-governor.

Kardon said:

“Vice-President Gore was the single biggest impediment to securing the necessary federal waiver for the Oregon Health Plan. I know this because then-Congressman Wyden was tasked with getting administration approval given his background, seniority, and committee assignment, and I was the lead staff in the eventually-successful effort."

I honestly do not believe Kardon was stretching the truth to fit my preferred narrative.

The Les AuCoin Blog

Comments

  • (Show?)

    The horse is dead, you can stop beating it now...

  • Mike Butler (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Like I said on the other post, this doesn't have to be about personal dislike between the Vice President and the Governor.

    They had a policy disagreement. A serious one. One that led a Senator from Tennessee to write an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times that was reprinted by the Eugene Register-Guard.

    And as I wrote previously, Gore was wrong. The Oregon Health Plan, when it was fully funded, provided more and better health care to more people in Oregon than traditional Medicaid would have.

    Good follow-up questions: Twenty years later, does Gore still think the Oregon Health Plan was a mistake? And does Bradbury agree with him?

  • LT (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Thank you, Mike:

    "Good follow-up questions: Twenty years later, does Gore still think the Oregon Health Plan was a mistake? And does Bradbury agree with him?"

    If Gore and Bradbury can't answer that question, will all the money they raise (even if it is twice as much as expected) help with voters who want such intelligent questions answered?

  • (Show?)

    Nick, no kidding. I think the horse has been flogged, hung, shot and thrown off the cliff.

    The only thing left is to start a mini-series about it.

  • (Show?)

    I ripped you off too. But I was funnier about it.

    blogtown.portlandmercury.com

    I like Les AuCoin.

    In French that means "Les on the corner." Right?

  • (Show?)

    Maybe Matt Davis can ask them about the OHP. After his remarks about BB's 30-inch kielbasa, there's no way he's not getting into the presser.

  • John Silvertooth (unverified)
    (Show?)

    So what else is new- Kitzhaber is fixated on fish and cares about poor people when they need to pay a Doctor-

  • Muscle Force Max (unverified)
    (Show?)

    are you kidding with us,horse is dead, you can stop beating it now

  • Lord Beaverbrook (unverified)
    (Show?)

    I'm sure everyone that took the time to write and submit articles over the last few months, without response, will be delighted that this merited a second post, rather than updating the first.

    Besides overreacting to legit questions on the other post, your logic is specious, dude. Yes, some asked if you were stretching the connection or projecting a soap opera. But you act like the fact that identical logic appears in WW means that the charge was baseless. Is it beyond comprehension that you both are doing the same thing? I guess so.

  • Also in Primate News (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Posted by: sjp | Nov 6, 2009 7:24:37 PM

    Maybe Matt Davis can ask them about the OHP. After his remarks about BB's 30-inch kielbasa, there's no way he's not getting into the presser.

    Has anyone noticed that Jason Wurster's name means "sausage maker"...and that he is the best examples of the phrase, "politics is like making sausage; it's ugly"?

    Man, off topic on this thread is a virtue!

  • FactBot4000 (unverified)
    (Show?)
    1. Nothing underhanded is going on here; it's just two campaigns each trying to re-frame an incident in a way that best suits them.

    2. In this post, Mr. AuCoin does an interesting dance of implying that he is not biased towards Kitzhaber without ACTUALLY making any such statement. (Read carefully!)

    Not that it's in any way underhanded if he did, but I think an interesting question to Mr. AuCoin would be: "Did you coordinate -- either implicitly or explicitly -- with the Kitzhaber campaign -- either directly or through an intermediary -- with regards to the presentation of information regarding Al Gore?" (That should be a yes or no answer.)

    Kitzhaber's camp is doing a good job re-framing the Badbury-Gore connection in terms of the health care issue -- an arena where he can easily come out on top over that duo. And he's doing it in such a way where his camp doesn't look whiny. Both campaigns are making the "correct" moves, politically.

    This is going to be an awesome primary.

  • (Show?)

    FB400: "Did you coordinate -- either implicitly or explicitly -- with the Kitzhaber campaign -- either directly or through an intermediary -- with regards to the presentation of information regarding Al Gore?" (That should be a yes or no answer.)

    One word answer: No.

    As I said, I lived the history between both men, who are my friends, as is Bradbury.

    PS: Read Charlie Burr's apology for suggesting I did endorse Kitzhaber.

  • FactBot4000 (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Well Mr. AuCoin, I appreciate your forthrightness.

    But of course an apology from Mr. Burr does not constitute a denial on your part. :)

  • (Show?)

    I’m still wishing we could bring Congressman AuCoin out of retirement. In a swing district he came out fighting for progressive values every year knowing it would mean difficult re-election fights but he put principles before politics.

  • LT (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Chuck, 1) Issues have changed a lot since he was in Congress.

    2) As someone who supported Les in the election against Bill Moshofsky (for the reasons you cite) but thought he was a disappointment in the 1992 US Senate primary (What "progressive values" was he fighting for there? I recall snarky ads and not wanting to go into detail on issues any more than any of the current Gov. candidates have done so far.) I think sometimes it is better for newer people to be running for office.

    Now, if he were to be discussing the issues that Ben Westlund has been talking about recently, issues also mentioned in this article,

    http://www.statesmanjournal.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2009911080353

    Those are important issues. The opening to this post is the opposite, "over at Willamette Week, reporter Hank Stern admits that, journalistically, I simply beat him to a interesting background story.

    Gee, someone wrote a post on BO and then someone at WW wrote the same story. This is a way to motivate young voters to be involved in the process?

    that would be a different story

  • Paul Cox (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Posted by: Rev. Chuck Currie | Nov 8, 2009 4:56:44 PM

    I’m still wishing we could bring Congressman AuCoin out of retirement.

    Oh, my. I had pictured a high school senior, cutting his teeth on political rhetoric. Oh my, indeed.

    BTW, you rule, Rev. Chuck!

  • Greg Haz (unverified)
    (Show?)

    AL GORE opposed our health plan.

    Al Gore picked right Wing Joe Lieberman as a running mate.

    Sec. Bradbury tarnishes his image as a good Democrat by associating with the likes of Al Gore!

  • (Show?)

    If "you were there" Les, you have to offer more proof of Al Gore being angry at John Kitzhaber than a copy of a 20 year old newspaper op-ed, in which then Tennessee Senator Al Gore had a policy disagreement with Oregon's leaders, in which he didn't even mention the Governor by name, and seemed most opposed because President Bush was in favor of the plan.

    And so far, you have offered absolutely no such evidence.

    At this point, it's become clear that you haven't backed up your accusation with anything substantial because you can't. Instead, you have just gotten huffy, and started channeling Jack Nicholson in "A Few Good Men", saying some people can't handle the truth.

    In reality, however, your "truth" about fuzzy interpersonal issues is colored by your preferred narrative. This is hardly uncommon; we see on display on Fox "News" every day. And in your case, you clearly want to believe that Al Gore is motivated by petty personal grievance against John Kitzhaber, rather than being in favor of (or even simply owing a favor to) Bill Bradbury.

    Which means, Les, that the only evidence on display of a petty personal grievance is yours. What have you got against Al Gore, anyway?

    As I said in my previous post, this is unworthy of you. And honestly, I'm ashamed to see that you've managed to get the local media establishment pick up this unfounded hearsay and breathlessly report it as if it was fact. Ashamed, but not surprised.

    Fox style gossip-mag reporting seems to have infected the news. If it's a juicy eyeball-grabbing story about the famous people you don't like acting badly, having a catfight, or whatnot, who cares if it is not actually, really, true?

  • (Show?)

    Charlie Burr stated in his initial comment that Les AuCoin "had his facts wrong." In his blog post, we found out what this was about: he took issue with the idea that Kitzhaber's 2000 endorsement was "early and conspicuous." Apparently, the endorsement was rather late in the political calendar, and in Burr's words, "the only thing "conspicous" about the decision was that it made virtually no sense whatsoever."

    Okay, fine. It appears there was a bit of analysis in there that wasn't so hot.

    But the thing that Burr hasn't acknowledged is that AuCoin's lack of a position undercuts Burr's entire premise.

    There may be Kitzhaber supporters out there who are going to extremes, but AuCoin is certainly not the poster boy. I'm not sure what Burr's value post retains once that point is conceded.

    Nick Wirth and dead horses: if it doesn't interest you, read another post. I find this stuff fascinating.

    Steve Maurer and proof: if you don't find AuCoin's words compelling, who cares? He doesn't "have to offer more proof" to anyone. You apparently have a pretty high opinion of yourself, and the value of convincing you of anything.

  • Lord Beaverbrook (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Steve Maurer and proof: if you don't find AuCoin's words compelling, who cares? He doesn't "have to offer more proof" to anyone. You apparently have a pretty high opinion of yourself, and the value of convincing you of anything.

    It's not often you get to hear an entity think out loud, but that's a tap on actual consciousness in the local Democratic Party.

  • (Show?)

    Lord Beaverbrook, I don't have the slightest idea what you're talking about.

    For anyone who's curious about Charlie Burr's "facts" in this (unnecessary and utterly ridiculous) fiasco, please be sure to look at my comments on his most recent post.

  • Peri Brown (unverified)
    (Show?)

    He was agreeing with what you said about Mauer, in his (thankfully) inimitable way.

    Just kidding. You're not alone. Dems just try to make proggies feel that way.

  • (Show?)

    Thanks Peri, makes more sense now. I guess to me this issue has less to do with Dems and Proggies, and more to do with basic discussion dynamics and logic. But I suppose I can appreciate the point Lord B. appears to be making.

    In an age where factual information is usually a few mouse clicks away, it's kind of astonishing how many days and comments could pass without anybody questioning Charlie's strongly asserted, and utterly false, premise.

  • CBurr (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Kari once gave me pretty good advice: never blog when you're drunk or angry. I've been pretty faithful to the first one, and this post is a good example of the pitfalls of the second. It was written in haste and contains errors. I want to be 100 percent accurate and take that seriously. In many years of posting here, this is only the second post where I’ve had to make corrections. (Another post in 2006 incorrectly listed AeroVironment as a Vermont-based firm).

    I reached out to Les Friday after he weighed in that he was not in fact a supporter, nor had he endorsed Kitzhaber. However, it seemed like the most transparent way to respond was to sincerely apologize, but not delete the post. It’s kind of embarrassing to have it still up, but that seems better than simply scrubbing it away. Also, if I were to take it down, Les’ follow up piece would not make a lot of sense.

  • (Show?)

    Charlie, I came to the thread after all that had been resolved -- and I'm not trying to rub your face in it.

    My new concern, which I haven't seen you address, is the date and characterization of Kitzhaber's endorsement of Bill Bradbury -- which the Oregonian announced on January 19, 2000.

    It's an entirely separate point from Les AuCoin's lack of an endorsement.

  • (Show?)

    Also: I commend your decision to leave the post up, for the flow of the discussion, as you described. I can imagine it would be uncomfortable. But your willingness to admit an error stands out; I would just suggest that you do an encore of the correction, regarding the date, which was another crucial premise of your piece.

  • CBurr (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Fair enough. I've put strikeouts through the entire post but left it up. Here's my perspective on Les' initial piece, for what it's worth. Until Les posted his piece, I'd forgotten that Kitzhaber endorsed Bradley in the 2000 primary. My feeling at the time was frustration at Kitzhaber's decision to get involved in this primary between two pretty solid candidates in light of his refusal to weigh on behalf of viable progressives closer to home. I say this from experience, as someone who worked nearly a year of my life in Washington County on behalf of Brad Avakian against Tom Hartung, a Republican with a five percent OLCV rating. I didn't see the Hartung/Avakian decision in 1998 as an especially difficult call. I also strongly believe that we would have been better off without Tom Hartung casting the deciding vote against the employment non-discrimination act the prior session. That was a long time ago to be sure, but was the context of how I viewed the 2000 primary endorsement for Bradley.

    Fast forward to Les' post: I did not, for what it's worth, come up with the idea that Les was a Kitzhaber supporter out of whole cloth. Not that it excuses the error, but I had remembered seeing Les become a supporter of Kitzhaber's on FB. And yes, I realize this is totally meaningless, as I am also, like Les, a fan of both on the site. It's just another way of keeping tabs on what candidates are up to, not an actual endorsement of course. But that's one of the reasons I jumped to the wrong conclusion. The other one -- actually more stupid than the first -- is that I was on a conference call and misread Les' headline. I read it as "got YOUR back" (saying, hey, Kitzhaber, I'm looking out for you) instead of the obvious intent: Gore to Kitzhaber: "I Got YOU back." Like I said, embarrasing.

    I take Les at his word that he wasn't contacted by Kitzhaber's campaign prior to posting. I read the post differently, and thought it was intended as an effort to dilute an endorsement earned through Bill's hard work and years of advocacy. As a political consultant I know would say, "to piss in his soup." I don't think there's anything nefarious about Kitzhaber's folks working to downplaying the Gore visit by the way; that's what opposing campaigns do. My feelings about this echo what FactBot4000 wrote above; I don't necessarily view it as tawdry. That said, give Bill his day, is my feeling.

    Despite the Avakian race, I am not anti-Kitzhaber, although I fear that it reads that way. In 2004, I ran a campaign against a medical malpractice tort reform measure that featured Kitzhaber as a prime spokesperson and endorser. Although we were on opposite sides of a hard-fought patients rights campaign, I came out of that effort with an even greater respect for Kitzhaber than when the campaign began. Kitzhaber showed character and courage by calling out his own side when they attempted to create a fake voters' guide designed -- in my view -- to mislead voters. I am deeply grateful that Kitzhaber is the rare type of politician who would do such a thing.

    My apology about the post is genuine, not just to Les, but to readers. We're opinionated folks here, but that doesn't mean we get a free pass when we fail to get things right.

  • (Show?)

    Charlie, I appreciate the explanation. As a reader, I find BlueOregon most interesting when it reveals thoughts and motivations that relate to decisions in the political realm; so in that vein, this comment is every bit as interesting to me as Les' original post.

    For whatever it's worth, I never suspected that you had made an intentional deception. But it's great to have an explanation of what did lead you to write that original post.

    Thanks for the followup.

  • Muscle Might (unverified)
    (Show?)
    <h2>Why do people over here keep saying horse is dead, you can stop beating it? Is it a regular expression over here?</h2>

connect with blueoregon