Westlund Wearing the Uniform?

Jesse Cornett

In my last post, I mentioned Steve Duin’s column on Ben Westlund. But as I reread it, I realized there are a few questions that I want to ask. First: what the hell is he talking about?

From this:

Westlund has seen the e-mails and heard the screams. His support for Bush in 2004? "I was still wearing the uniform. We were at a time of war. You tend to support presidents during times of crisis."

...what uniform? Was Westlund a member of the military? Has he ever been? Is this insulting to the Oregon men and women fighting overseas? To the families that have lost loved ones over there?

If he's talking about the GOP "uniform" is he telling us that he doesn't/didn't have the backbone to stand up to his party leadership? Now that he's jettisoned that affiliation (a few weeks ago) can we be sure that that's the only loyalty he has? Are there other "uniforms" that he wears that we need to know about? Others to whom he is more loyal than to the people of Oregon?

Oh, and what crisis was he talking about in 2004? Sure, 2001. Maybe early 2002. But by 2004, the war was no longer a crisis. It certainly wasn't any more a crisis than it is right now. If it's still a crisis, why doesn't he support the president now?

I'm just asking....

  • Styve (unverified)

    He sounds like a boilerplate GOP Bamboozler!! It's all about playing dirty pool, and I wouldn't trust the guy as far as I could throw him.



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    f he's talking about the GOP "uniform" is he telling us that he doesn't/didn't have the backbone to stand up to his party leadership?

    Yeah, that's how I read it. And I think this will be the major question--for both Dems and Republicans--in his campaign. If he jumped ship because of the train wreck that is the GOP, why didn't he do it in 2004? Either it's because he didn't think it was a train wreck, or because politics mattered more than policy. Neither is good.

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    Now that he's jettisoned that affiliation (a few weeks ago) can we be sure that that's the only loyalty he has?

    There's one interest he's stayed consistently loyal to: his own political self-interest. Personally, I'm all for welcoming Republicans into our party with open arms. Or if they make a calculated judgement about becoming a non-affiliated candidate, fair enough. But forgiveness for past intransigence is different from electing that person Governor of our state.

    One way to prove his election year conversion is to go back to the Senate and work for some real progressive accomplishments.

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    I just checked his web site and he has no military background. He finished college about 1971 as forces were being withdrawn from Vietnam, but when a lot of guys were still dying. Let's just say that he had a chance to participate if he was interested.

    Of course I also read it as a GOP uniform but that is no excuse. When I was younger and a Republican I never voted for Reagan and as a resident of California I had plenty of opportunities. If Ben were truly an independent thinker he would not have voted for Bush, even if he didn't like Kerry.

    I have always liked Ben personally, but I can't say that I have been impressed with the depth of his thinking or his understanding of the issues. I also dislike the fact that his campaign seems tilted toward recruiting Democrats more than Republicans or even independents. Maybe I am too sensitive on that but he seems to be promoting a strictly progressive set of issues. What is he doing to appeal to Republicans?

  • Andy Corkum (unverified)

    Jesse, You are such a two face, I heard a rumor last week that you called the Ben Westlund campaign office, saying that you think Ben can win and saying that you hope so. So which is it Jesse?? Now that he's jettisoned that affiliation (a few weeks ago)!! He left his party on Feb 14th. Jesse please do your homework before making false statements like this one. That's 4 months by my count. Where did you learn to add? Mr. Burr., Work for real progressive accomplishments: Senate Bill 1000, HOPE intiative, APOLLO green energy program, and fiscal reform are all Westlund projects. (where's Ted??) Jeff, politics mattered more than policy. Neither is good.: Ben left his party because of the GOP's increasing inhumanity towards American citizens. Ben says "people before politics" and "ideas before idealogy". All you folks scream real loud about how people from the 'right' need to WAKE UP and look at what is going on around them. Then someone does and you slam him for it?!? What's the deal? Isn't this what your looking for?, unity? Or would you rather have a "us vs them" attitude about it your whole life? If I remeber right didn't the Patriot act get made permanent because a substatial amount of Democrats voted for it? What about Judge Alito, Mr Hayden, etc. What about the OK to Bush to invade Iraq? Gore did a good job in Florida, and Kerry sure did a good job of getting all the votes counted in Ohio didn't he? Why haven't you left the Democratic party yet? Are you putting your politics before common sense? If you feel a two faction society is enough for you then good luck.

    By the way where is Ted? What has he done the past four years?

    By the way his staff is made up of Dems, Reps, Greens, a Libertarian, and a handful of Independents!! There is room on Ben's campaign from both sides of the aisle.

    I am an ex- Democrat, it took me years to do so.

  • Winston Wolfe (unverified)

    You know Jesse you are absolutely right on everything you just said, yet Hard Core Dems are supporting this known (former) Bush supporter.

    You can blast Westlund all you want, but I find it very scary for the Ted that Westlund has any support at all amongst Dems (and you people know who you are). Worse for Ted the more people hear what Westlund has to say (and if he can rise above the bloody mess Ted and Saxton create for themselves) the more appealing he will be.

    I know Ted can't get the people back he lost. I also know hitting Westlund won't make people on the fence to fall his way. The best thing Ted can do is embrace Ben for finally seeing things the way Ted has and ask "Why did it take you 10 years as a Republican legislator to see that they do not believe what we believe(fill in whatever issue)?"

    By embracing Westlund, Ted won't look like a jackass and even better when Ted says, "Well Senator Westlund is severely misguided here" it will actually carry some weight.

    Calling Westlund a Republican is a great way to get the base to support you, but for Ted he as already pissed off the base (SEIU members and teachers aren't going to turn out in record numbers to save Ted). If Ted is going to win he is going to have to take a page out of what Bill Clinton did in 1992.

    Clinton used Ross to say "the system is broke...and this guy is to blame.” Clinton also agreed with Ross about the need to balance the federal budget (an issues that even Bush agreed with). Clinton was so good he even started using the same language as Ross. People started to think that Ross and Clinton had the same ideas. With Bush joining in it seemed as all of them would defend our pocket book so Joe Voter went with the candidate who they agreed with on social issues.

    My advice for Ted...

    Saxton is going to say...We can cut taxes, cut pers, fully fund services, and give people pixie dust to make their hair grow. Ted is going to say...we have gone through a tough stretch but we are going to get out of this mess and the way to do it is Fund education, give access to health care, Blah Blah Blah. Westlund is going to say the system is broke and we need to fundamentally change Politics as usual. He is going to advocate tax reform, health care reform, alterative fuels, and an end to partisanship.

    Westlund's message will resonate and with Ted and Westlund saying the same things it will over power Saxton's message. Every time Westlund says we need to stop politics as usual Ted has to avoid the urge to slap Westlund and the Republicans for F-ing up the state...rather Embrace Westlund's ideas. Ted should say, "I agree with senator Westlund that Oregon needs fundamental changes to protect Oregon’s ever dwindling middle class... that is why we want to create the rainy day fund for schools or (etc...). Oregon is renowned for innovative ideas and that is why when am trying to solve a problem I never take any ideas off the table.”

    As the campaign moves forward and Westlund becomes a 20% candidate (and no higher), Westlund will move to the right to pick up more Conservative NAVS. Parental Notification and Capital Gains cuts will become issues that Saxton and Westlund push. This is where Ted stands strong for Democratic Ideals and will get the base back.

    I know for all the advisers leaving your base up for grabs until a month to 2 weeks before and election seems like a gamble (and it is), but Ted is in trouble. I guess what I'm trying to say is Ted can't call Ben a "Republican" because Saxton is going to say he's a "Democrat" and in the end both of them are walking right into Westlund’s trap. Ted needs to use Westlund to frame the debate and embrace his ideas and language. This will force Saxton to talk about the issues he doesn’t want to talk about (like the reality of taxes) and keeps Ted from looking like he is a political hack (thus making it hard for Westlund guy rise above politics).

    I know Ted thinks Westlund is an a**hole, but in the end he is also a political asset that he can use to control the debate in the campaign. But the way to do it is not to out Westlund Westlund, rather just team up with him to show that Saxton out of touch.

    It worked for Bill and I think it will work for you Ted.

    "I'm Winston Wolfe, I solve problems"

  • Becky (unverified)

    Right on, Andy!

    A lot of Democrats were also supporting the war and the President back then because that's what patriotic Americans do. We didn't know then what we know now. The situation we find ourselves in as a country today is unprecedented and nearly unbelievable. It's the kind of thing that separates the brain-dead chaff from the wheat. Westlund has chosen a very lonely and difficult road, politically, but a lot of us are ready to follow someone who puts people and ideas first.

  • LT (unverified)

    Do the words "doth protest too much" strike a familiar note?

    Everyone has said and done things capable of ridicule if investigated deeply enough.

    But you folks are kidding yourselves if you think bashing every word and action of Ben Westlund will prevent those like Winston saying things like Worse for Ted the more people hear what Westlund has to say (and if he can rise above the bloody mess Ted and Saxton create for themselves) the more appealing he will be.

    Ted has a lot of explaining to do, even leaving out SEIU and others being angry about PERS. A couple of examples:

    • Compare what Ted said about the possibility of raising taxes in 2005 and 2006. Are they identical? If not, why not? Does the fact that Ted was a Marine and Ben didn't serve in the military explain why Ben is more willing to explain his actions and admit mistakes than Ted?

    *What was Ted thinking with some of his appointments, esp. AuCoin and Bryant? It is valid to ask what kind of people Westlund would appoint, but that's not what's going on here.

    This post reminds me of what my friend Julie said over 20 years ago and still believes is valid, "when they act like that, you know they know they are losing".

    I was not always a friend of Ben Westlund--he defeated a friend of mine the first time he was elected.

    But I can't say I admire people who explain their voting record and admit mistakes and then say "But vote for Ted anyway even though Ben does a better job of explaining himself".

    The change of campaign managers allows Ted to change the tone of his campaign from "doing what Oregonians want done" (then why did he have to work so hard to get 54% in the primary?) to "here are explanations of what I did in my first term and what I hope to do if you elect me to a second term".

    His true friends will suggest this to him.

    And fair warning. I have before chosen who to vote for based on the tone of campaign (once dropped a candidate like a hot potato and went with my second choice after hearing a nasty radio ad) and my brother recently did a similar thing in the Calif. Dem. Gov. primary.

    If this "look at all the bad things Ben has done, vote Ted" refrain continues, and someone asks me how I am going to vote for Gov., I will say "leaning towards Ben, the positive candidate". And if that makes me "not a real Democrat", fine. I can just register with "the fastest growing party--no party at all".

  • JHL (unverified)

    The Dems' arguments against Westlund always seem to boil down to two inconsistent statements:

    1. He's a shrewd political opportunist.
    2. He's shed all of his support from both sides of the aisle.

    I don't have to agree with a politician 100% of the time to think they're the best candidate. A politician who knows full well that he's about to walk down a "lonely and difficult road" and goes ahead and does it anyway certainly merits my consideration.

  • Stella (unverified)

    Becky wrote: "A lot of Democrats were also supporting the war and the President back then because that's what patriotic Americans do."


    What planet are you talking about? Because here on planet earth, George W. Bush was elected with fewer votes from members of the opposite party than any other president in history.

    Nationally, only 11 percent of Democrats voted for Bush in 2004, which was mostly made up of traditional Democratic southerners who are still registered with the party but haven't voted for a Democrat since President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act in 1964.

    A lot of Democrats supported the President back then because that was the patriotic thing to do? That's a good one.

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    My biggest issue with Westlund is his record on women's health issues. He claims to be 100% pro choice, but sponsored a 24 hour waiting period before an abortion with mandatory counseling(as if the decision to have one wasn't hard enough) and doesn't have a safe abortion access vote to speak of. He did, however, sponsor contraceptive equity and supported EC in the ER. That's not enough though, for me. If I can't make my own body choices with the next governor - that impacts more than just me. All you men would be wise to consider that as well. Unwanted pregancies contribute more to society than we probably want.

  • Stella (unverified)


    (1) Someone can be a political opportunist without being shrewd. Ben Westlund is indeed an opportunist, but he certainly isn't very savvy about it. That might reconcile the apparent contradiction you observe.

    (2) This business about Westlund walking down a "lonely and difficult road" is nonsense. Westlund is running on the message that he represents Oregon's silent majority of independents. His whole appeal is that he claims to stand with Oregon's majority. You can't sympathize with a guy for walking down a "lonely and difficult road" who himself claims to be running down a crowded and supportive road!

    (3) I agree. You don't have to agree with a candidate's complete record to vote for him. For example, I disagree with the Governor's position on PERS reform, but I'm still supporting him. But some issues -- or groups of issues -- are bellweather indications of where a person stands. Let's look at where Westlund stands: - He didn't just support Measure 36; he submitted a voters pamphlet statement declaring his overwhelming support for the measure and influencing others to join him. - His environmental record is embarrassing. - He voted against increases in Oregon's minimum wage on multiple occasions. - He has voted against reproductive choice for women on multiple occasions.

    Look, there's not just one thing -- or just a couple of things -- that this guy has done wrong. He's taken some clear positions on some very important bellweather issues. If you're willing to look past those issues because you think he's a progressive, then I think that makes you naive.

    And does anyone else wonder: if he's changed his mind so much in the past couple of years, how many times can we expect this guy to change his mind once he's elected?

  • Becky (unverified)

    Stella, what planet are you living on? Westlund's comments relate to the war era, not the pre-war era. If memory serves, nearly all of the Democrats in Congress voted to give Bush the authority to declare war because of the BS they were told about a connection to 9/11 and the danger of Iraqi-sponsored terrorism using WMDs. We know otherwise now, but we didn't then. The President's approval ratings were VERY high in the beginning - and included a heck of a lot of Democrats. Don't you remember that?

    As for the idea that a person's political transformation from loyal Republican to independant thinker can occur in an instant, let me tell you, it doesn't happen that way. It's an evolutionary process - a slow awakening. I'm willing to give Westlund a chance to show if he's really waking up, but I can't imagine he'd be doing what he's doing otherwise. I hope I'm not wrong.

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    I agree that the "lonely and difficult" road rhetoric rings a little hollow. Ben wants to be Governor -- and has chosen what he believes to be his best way to get there. I don't begrudge him that; he's seen the writing on the wall within his own party's nominating process, and just taken another road to Mahonia Hall.

    Andy writes: Senate Bill 1000, HOPE intiative, APOLLO green energy program, and fiscal reform are all Westlund projects. (where's Ted??)

    SB 1000-- this is the most brazen of the list, as Ted has supported gay rights throughout his entire career, including strongly opposing the effort to ban gay marriage that Westlund so enthusiastically supported less than two years ago. Of course Ted would have enthusiastically signed SB 1000.

    Apollo Init-- this initiative is not moving forward, and has been dead for many months.

    But Ted has directed the Environmental Quality Commission to adopt the strictest standards for tailpipe emmssion of greenhouse gasses and toxic pollutants in the country. He's established a statewide goal of getting 25% of all our energy from renewable sources by 2025. He's promoting convervation measures, tax credits to jumpstart new renewable projects and will bring legislation next session to help promote Oregon's "bio-energy" markets.

    And he continues to stand up to the Bush administration when special interests threaten our clean air and water.

    HOPE Init-- Also dead. See Democracy Resources, poaching.

    The Governor has proposed the Healthy Kids Plan, which would expand health coverage for children in need ineligible for federal programs the chance to buy affordable group coverage with help from the state. Ted's plan includes continuing to expand school-bases health centers and building upon the state's Medicaid and CHIP programs.

    Fiscal reform...

    The state was an economic basket case when the Governor took office. Highest unemployment and hunger rates in the country. A $3 billion dollar deficit -- largest since the great depression. Ted's worked to get the economy rolling again, and it's working. We've added 100K new jobs and have the highest employment numbers in history.

    There's a lot more to do but this state's in helluva lot better shape than when the Governor took office. And thank God Westlund didn't succeed as Mannix's co-chair four years ago.

  • stella (unverified)

    OK, Becky...

    I don't know what kind of pipe you're smoking, but the subject of this entire discussion is the quote Jesse lifted out of Steve Duin's column:

    "Westlund has seen the e-mails and heard the screams. His support for Bush in 2004? 'I was still wearing the uniform. We were at a time of war. You tend to support presidents during times of crisis.'"

    Did Westlund support Bush in 2004? Yes. Did moderate Democrats support Bush in 2004? No.

    And, for the record, November 2004 was not "pre-war." We went to war with Iraq in March 2003 and we're still at war.

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    As for the idea that a person's political transformation from loyal Republican to independant thinker can occur in an instant, let me tell you, it doesn't happen that way. It's an evolutionary process - a slow awakening. I'm willing to give Westlund a chance to show if he's really waking up, but I can't imagine he'd be doing what he's doing otherwise. I hope I'm not wrong.

    Becky, out of all the people who comment here on a regular basis, you've probably had the most remarkable transformation. And on many many issues -- but especially ballot measures -- you've got some truly valuable and unique insight (including your much appreciated advice when I was working against the Westlund-supported med mal initiative).

    But there's a big difference between, "I was wrong about Sizemore and am willing to blow the whistle on his operation at personal risk to myself" and "I was wrong about Bush, Mannix, gay marriage, payday loans, ect. but now that I've seen the light, elect me Governor."

    Why not have Ben go back to the Senate and put his beliefs into action there? Having a few progressive accomplishments under his belt is a reasonable thing for progressives to ask for before Westlund earns their vote. His just seems like a faith-based candidacy at this point.

  • Becky (unverified)

    Stella, one of us is confused as to what the other one is saying, is all I can figure, and I'll be damned if I know which one of us it is. I can't understand why you're arguing this point and I think I've already addressed what I thought you said, so either I need some caffeine or you need to re-read the context and my posts.

  • LT (unverified)

    Charlie says: Having a few progressive accomplishments under his belt is a reasonable thing for progressives to ask for before Westlund earns their vote. His just seems like a faith-based candidacy at this point. I could make a joke about some thinking support for Ted is "faith based" given that there hasn't been a lot of discussion about his specific actions/proposals on education (exactly what did he do on education funding in 2005, and where has he explained his 2005 actions on education, for instance).

    But instead, maybe this will get attention back to the issues.

    Here are the URLs for Ben, Ted and Ron on their own websites talking about education funding.




    I am not a card-carrying progressive, so "reasonable thing for progressives to ask for" doesn't include me. I tend to trust people I know and have talked with over people who I haven't talked with ever or recently. I honestly don't know what Ted was doing about education last year because I haven't heard him talk about it. He has some sort of education enterprise he talks about now, but I don't think that's what he was talking about last year.

    But then, I'm not a lifelong Democrat. I've been a McCall Republican, a member of Dem. State Central Comm. (and spent thousands of hours working on Democratic party matters and campaigns as a volunteer) and I have been a registered Indep/NAV. It seems to me Ben talks more about issue specifics than Ted (who is more detailed than Ron).

    If you don't trust Ben, spend all your spare time on Ted's campaign. But don't expect me to support Ted this summer (the election isn't until November) just because there are bloggers who don't trust Ben.

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    Give me a break. I have been a Ted supporter since he entered the race in 2002 and I remain strongly so. Do I like Ben? Yes. Do I think he can win? Yes (of course I also thought Atkinson had a shot at the R nomination). Do I know several of Ben's staffers? Yes. Have I called the campaign? Yes. Did I ever say I HOPE he wins? HELL NO!

  • Becky (unverified)

    Charlie - Maybe I'm just hungry to have faith in someone! I'm willing to give him a chance. But if he doesn't make it, I'd love to see him go back to the Legislature, prove himself, and try for Mahonia Hall at a later date. And if he does make it and he goes right-wing on us, which I can't imagine, then we'll have to find a strong candidate to run against him next time. The thing is, when I look at the partisan line-up I don't have anywhere else to go but Westlund. That's me. So I'm just really happy that I also feel good about him right now because for a long time I've been casting hold-your-nose votes. November is far enough away that we have plenty of time to see what he's got going on in his mind and move elsewhere if he's not showing enough depth.

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    For full disclosure: I too know and like many of Ben's staff. I think they're serving their candidate well, and as I've written previously, I think my friend and former co-worker Mike Selvaggio is putting out some interesting media and TV spots. I think a lot of what they're doing is innovative, but professional respect aside, I'm not voting for their guy.

    I think Ted's the best candidate in this race. He's been there on the issues I care about. He's got the strongest track record of sticking up for the middle class. I don't see eye to eye with anyone in this race 100%, but I strongly believe Ted's the best candidate for our state.

  • LT (unverified)

    Thank you Becky and Charlie for intelligent debate.

    I remain undecided. As a 2002 Ted supporter, I wish he was running a better campaign. The 54% primary victory should be a warning that "I'm the incumbent Democrat, vote for me" just ain't gonna cut it for voters who didn't vote for him in the primary (esp. Indep. and those who supported Jim or Pete or chose not to vote in the primary).

    Ted needs someone like Mike Selvaggio. Someone who could get out a message other than the vague "Ted's been good for Oregon, vote for him".

    Why is Ted so allergic to explaining himself, even if he has to do it over and over? Does he not see the election as a job interview? What are his proposals for the future? What did he do in 2005 when he seemed so absent from public view that people told "Where's Waldo" jokes.

    If Ted can't get a better organized campaign and explain himself and his ideas better than "I'm running against a bunch of Republicans", he doesn't deserve to win. Even if his campaign took every idea off the Westlund website and publicly agreed, disagreed, or enlarged upon those ideas, that would be an improvement from what seems to be "if you're a Democrat, you're supposed to vote for me because I did good things".

    Is Ted stubborn, or why is it that he won't explain his own actions? Do he and his supporters think bashing Westlund will make up for Ted's lack of explaining what Ted has done?

    I've know Ted a lot longer than Ben, but this current Gov. doesn't seem like the guy I once knew. Dissecting ever word Ben Westlund ever spoke will not answer the question "Why isn't Gov. Ted the guy we expected him to be when we voted for him 4 years ago?".

    Don't tell me "times were hard". FDR faced harder times, and he was able to explain to the general public what he did and why. If Ted is not able to do that, finding some remark Westlund made and dissecting it won't hide the fact that some of us expected Ted to have better communication skills than he turned out to have. Does he not think the public deserves to know what he's done and what specifics he proposes because he meets privately with "movers and shakers" and they are the ones whose opinion really matters? Or what?

  • Mike Selvaggio, Westlund for Governor (unverified)

    Because Jesse's our friend, I'd like to pop in and quickly clear up a potential misunderstanding.

    Yes, Jesse called us. Yes, Jesse thinks Ben can win. No, Jesse NEVER said that he hopes Ben will win. If he had, we would have posted that on our supporters page on the website -- instantly.

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    Becky et al... to the question of whether Democrats were supporting the president in a time of war... and whether Ben Westlund could have been supporting the president "in a time of crisis"...

    Theres a big difference between 2001 and 2004. Three years, and we went from 911 to swiftboats.... by 2004, we knew there was no wmd and thus no rationale for the war.

    hell, i supported the fight against osama in 2001 ... but by 2004, no way.

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    The real problem for me lies in the difference between Westlund's words and actions on the issue of Bush/Iraq.

    When I interviewed Ben, he made it crystal clear that he thinks the country has been on the wrong track in a host of ways since before 2004. He spoke passionately about his belief that the country is in really big trouble due in large part to the policies and politics of the Bush Administration.

    Yet he says he's voted for Bush at every opportunity. Including 2004.

    We already have a President who says one thing and does another. I'm not eager to have that same quality in a governor.

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    Just to clarify my comments above... I did in 2001, and continue to today, support any efforts to bring Osama bin Laden to justice. It's the war-without-a-reason in Iraq that I don't support -- and certainly many no longer did by 2004.

    For Ben Westlund to suggest that he was still supporting Bush "in a time of crisis" in 2004 is idiotic folly.

    Once a Republican, always a Republican.

  • LT (unverified)

    Gosh Kari, I campaigned for Tom McCall's re-election, grew up in a Republican politician's family (Grandpa was elected statewide in our native state as a Republican and attended a GOP national convention) and have voted for a few other Republicans in my life.

    I also campaigned for John Anderson for President in 1980 and Brent Thompson for US Senate in 1996--third party candidates who talked about issues the major party candidates wouldn't talk about. I was a delegate to the 1984 Dem. National Convention and for a few years was an active member of state and district Dem. state central comm.

    But because I am not Becky I am a Republican because "once a Republican, always a Republican"?

    Al Franken told a joke this morning "In 1858, Abe Lincoln of Illinois said "a house divided against itself cannot stand" and yesterday, Henry Hyde of Illinois blamed Democrats for 9/11. Enough said".

    Al makes a good point about polarization.

    Maybe there are people in Mult. Co. whose social circles include only Democrats. But in order to keep the rest of the state "blue", one must get to know Republicans and independents.

    Friends of mine voted Bush/Hooley in 2004, and someone I know voted for Bush but against Measure 36. Is that because they are Republicans to the core, or because they didn't like Kerry for some reason? Do Democrats want the votes of such swing voters, or (for instance) should all 2004 Bush voters in the 5th Cong. District have been required to vote for Zupancic? Are you folks saying you don't believe individuals are allowed to vote for the candidate rather than the party? And you wonder why so many register outside major parties and find third party candidates appealing?

    For all the people who have said "Blue Oregon is not a voter contact site", you have no way of knowing how many people read but never comment (unless you have website statistics on how many computers log on to the site vs. how many comments there are). I have used Blue Oregon links to illustrate points in email discussions. People have told me they read Blue Oregon but never comment.

    I would strongly suggest visiting the Westlund supporter link Mike provided.

    There are quotes from supporters (click on a name to read quote) including this:

    Senator Westlund in many ways reflects the true Oregon heritage of independent thinking. ...

    A friend of mine had a job on the E. Coast in 1968 and said if she were a betting person, she could have gotten lots of money betting on McCarthy to win the Oregon primary--struck her as just the sort of independent spirit Oregonians liked, although her co-workers said "Oregon will never go for McCarthy".

    On both sides of those " words of support " on the benwestlund.com supporter page are listed "endorsers" including former Republican state reps. Jim Hill and Mary Alice Ford of Washington County. They were both thorns in the side of the Minnis type right wing Republians back in the day that caucus had intellectual diversity. Their words and actions kept previous sessions from being as conformist as the 2005 session.

    I was a great fan of Mary Alice Ford---no I have never been a straight party Democrat in the sense of not even talking with sensible Republicans. Not that I always agreed with her, but the conversations were always intelligent. Too bad she was defeated in a primary by a right wing candidate.

    Maybe Kari or Jesse could find a Kulongoski supporter to detail Ted's specific proposals, what he has learned in his first term, what he might have done differently. That would gain them more potential supporters than Ben bashing.

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    It was quite clear by late 2003 at the latest that Bush's ostensible war reasons were untrue. By mid-2004 all of the major media who had reported the WMD hype had climbed down.

    Westlund supported Bush in 2004 because he preferred him over Kerry. The "war crisis" in 2004 had morphed from the crisis of going to war into the crisis of massive Bush incompetence in handling the occupation. Westlund was still sufficiently a partisan Republican then not to care; or, more charitably, Westlund was a Republican in an RP that does not easily tolerate internal dissent, either in Oregon or nationally. His metaphor of the RP as a military organization is telling.

    One thing I'd like to know is whether his "independence" is only within Oregon, or national too. My impression is that his "independence" is more about hard-right dominance of the RP in Oregon specifically -- a different reaction to the same forces that led Ron Saxton, who previously at least billed himself as moderate, to take the opposite tack run at Mannix from the right.

    Is Westlund willing to challenge the national Republican agenda as well, in matters that affect Oregon & its citizens? Will he be a tribune for the people in speaking to the national government, e.g. on Kyoto, or presidential powers, or women's rights to control their bodies, or rolling back tax cuts for the super-rich to pay for legitimate current needs and not tax our children and grandchildren with profligate borrowing. Will he challenge their "federalism when it suits us but not when it doesn't" approach? Any clues about that?


    On a side line of this discussion:

    The idea that "no one knew" that Bush was lying us into war in 2002-2003 is a canard. There were plenty of people who knew and were saying so. However, a dominant group-think meant that if you did not go along with war-sellers, you ipso facto got treated as not serious, and your voices were not permitted to be part of the public debate.

    The doubters and challengers of the Bush war drive included some of those in the best position to know, like former weapons inspector (and generally conservative military guy) Scott Ritter, & the Finnish former head of weapons inspection Rolf Ekkeus, and, more cautiously, the then current head of U.N. inspection, Hans Blix. But they were not alone. There actually were critical, questioning stories in the press, they were just buried and not taken seriously by the editors, editorial writers and pro-war pundits who had the mike, as it were (the existence of critical stories was reported in mid-2004 when a number of major press outlets rather grudgingly admitted that they had muffed the story).

    John Kerry made a calculation in these circumstances and voted for the war powers resolution in an effort to set himself up as the "serious" candidate. It worked in the short run, got him the nomination as "most electable." But his unwillingness to say the vote was a mistake is part of what cost him the election.

    Bush chief of staff Andy Card was quite open about starting a p.r. campaign in September 2002, noting that you don't start one in August. At about that time there were Congressional hearings about revisions to the CIA's draft national intelligence estimated, that were reasonably widely reported. Although George Tenet claimed otherwise, those hearings made clear that the CIA had its arms twisted to say what the admin wanted them to say and that Tenet had caved.

    Most of the media were too cowardly about loss of "access" or too committed themselves to a war agenda to connect the dots clearly openly, but it was clear enough what was going on. At that time Donald Rumsfeld was also widely reported to be setting up a parallel intelligence apparatus inside the Pentagon. The clear point was a) pressure Tenet to cook the intelligence intepretations to avoid being marginalized, or b) cook it himself if the CIA didn't happen to cave. The strategy worked, Tenet caved and put on his chef's hat.

    One of the most brazen aspects of Bush's defensive war propaganda is his blaming faulty intelligence, which was faulty because he insisted that it be faulty, that it be changed to fit his preferences. It's right up there with the continued argument that Hussein was refusing to cooperate with the U.N. by not turning over information about the weapons program that didn't exist.

    And, of course, in addition to those of us who were convinced Bush was just lying, there actually were a whole lot of people who took the position that no one really knew, and that the U.N. inspectors should be let to keep working for 6 months or a year. Kerry later claimed that his war powers voted was based on believing that Bush had promised more or less that -- I was never sure if this was a mark of credulity or prevarication by Kerry, though these days he seems to have found some better footing and some backbone.

  • Anonymous (unverified)

    Democratic strategy for winning the White House:

    1. Put up a horrible, uninspiring Dem candidate.
    2. Play dress-up in hunting clothes, go windsurfing, etc.
    3. Admit that candidate is not great, but better than other guy.
    4. Lose election.
    5. Tell voters they are stupid for not choosing the correct uninspiring candidate.

    Man... sounds like a winning strategy!

    Yah... I wouldn't have made the same decision Westlund did. I don't know if I'm voting Kulo or Westlund... but I'm not going to base my choice on who thought John Kerry was totally awesome.

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