Jefferson Smith Bares His Soul—Maybe a Little Too Much
It's a gift to reporters and interviewers—and it's certainly refreshing—but Jefferson Smith has yet to fully master one of the subtler secrets of politicking: Running his thoughts through a filter before saying them aloud or, worse, writing them down and emailing them to a reporter in the wee hours of the morning. Sometimes that can work for him. For instance, this week's Hall Monitor offers a sampling of cortandfatboy's 70-minute must-listen interview with Smith, posted Monday. As I wrote in the column, it comes off like a "heartbreaking exit interview" that engenders a little bit of sympathy. Smith earns a few points for introspective, painful honesty—admitting he was too scared to mention his 1993 assault citation on his own, even though he thought about it doing so a few different times. At one point, he said, he considered revealing it during a speech to domestic violence agency Raphael House. And then again during his University of Oregon commencement address. He's clearly aware that the reticence and fear may have doomed his chances of beating Charlie Hales. He also called out newspapers in town for spending months and years digging into his "sexual history," and revealed that since WW broke the story about the college party, reporters have been going back to everyone he's known asking them again whether they ever remember Smith being a creepy, bully, or pervert. "Did he ever look at you funny? Did he ever touch you in a way you didn't like?" he said. "I've known 1,000 people... Can they find 10 who will say 'I hate that asshole'?" But Smith also let loose with some other sentiments that might have better served him staying private. He hints there's a chance he gets his "tail kicked" and muses on the possibility that he and his wife might leave Portland if he really does lose the mayor's race. That can't be reassuring to the staffers working to keep his campaign alive. Meanwhile, hours after sitting down for the podcast, Smith decided he wasn't quite finished unburdening his soul. As the Oregonian reported late last night, Smith—at the ridiculous, no-good-comes-from-it time of 1:32 in the morning—actually pressed send on a personal letter to city hall reporter Beth Slovic. [ Subscribe to the comments on this story ]
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Oct. 17, 2012
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