Gordon Smith: Hates Casablanca, But Loves Bogart

Steve Novick

So let me get this straight. Gordon Smith has finally decided (after a lot of hedging) that he opposes sending more troops to Iraq. But he still supports John McCain for President - McCain, whose primary distinguishing characteristic as a candidate is that he is all about sending more troops to Iraq. Kind of like saying that you love Humphrey Bogart, but can't stand Casablanca. But it's much worse than that. If you don't like Casablanca, you don't have to watch it. But if McCain wins - as Smith fervently desires - the war will go on.

In a way, though, Smith's inconsistency is consistent. Smith never REALLY opposes any right-wing policy, and doesn't believe in accountability. He says he's against Medicaid cuts - but supports the Bush tax cuts, which add to the Federal debt, which eventually has to be repaid, which will mean cuts in (you guessed it) Medicaid. He says he's against drilling in ANWR - but was willing to vote for a budget bill that allowed for ANWR cuts. He now claims to support an increase in the minimum wage - but on the Senate floor, he has repeatedly voted against raising the minimum wage.

"They say in Harlan County, there are no neutrals there. You'll either be a Union man, or a thug for J.H. Blair. Which side are you on?" In Senator Smith's case, the real answer is always: "the wrong side."

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    Bogart's best film by far is "The Big Sleep". Casablanca is way overrated and as a Bogart lover I can say that with pride.

    I know that misses the point but, hey it had to be said.

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    (Laughter) I knew someone would say that. Which is why I pointed out that in this case, Smith supports a result that would actually force everyone to keep watching Casablanca. But maybe I should have said: "If Gordon Smith were Mary Todd Lincoln, he would have been ecstatic about the play."

  • Bert S. (unverified)

    OK Blue Oregon I think I get it, Smith is a two faced Republican who will say what he needs to get elected while still going along with the Republican Party agenda.

    I think you've made the point well enough week after week.

    Now, how about some focus on what the Democrats are proposing to put an end to US involvement. Are they really opposing DLC hawks who are chomping at the bit to gain more control of military-industrial-complex and oil-industry contracting?

    ... Or how they're dragging their feet by only going as far as to say that they oppose the sham issue of "the surge"?

    Some of the Oregon delegation has made some proposals. Do these have solid time tables? Are the proposals likely to get passed? What is holding them back given the results of the last election?

  • Creek Freak (unverified)

    Inside the mind of the typical Blue Oregon poster:

    Blue Oregon: Those damn Republicans all support the war. Why can't one of them show some courage and principle and oppose it?

    MSM Report: Gordon Smith opposes war

    Blue Oregon: Gordon Smith only opposes the war now because he is up for re-election! If he really opposed it he would question the troop surge!

    MSM Report: Gordon Smith unsure of troop surge

    Blue Oregon: Gordon Smith is only "unsure" and being mush mouthed. If he is against the troop surge he needs to be AGAINST it not just question it.

    MSM Report: Gordon Smith to support Warner proposal against troop surge

    What next? Are you folks going argue that Gordon Smith really is not against the troop surge unless he goes and stands on Iraqi soil and orders the troops home?

    Let's face it. You people are as bad as the right wingers. A person can agree with you and you still will not let them agree because you change the definition of agreement.

  • Garrett (unverified)

    Well...I'd like to point out that the President really did a shrewed political move by ordering an escalation and then not giving anyone enough time to do anything about it. I think that the 1st new division was on its way before his speech was even over. If the Democrats now want to cut the funding (they only have the power of the purse) they will be cutting the funding of troops already in the theatre. What can they do other than passing a resolution at this point? Bush put them in between a rock and a hard place. What they need to do is tell the American people that this is an escalation and a lot of G.I.s are going to die because Bush wanted to make a political move.

    Keep in mind, the Dems have barely been in session over 100 hours. You've got to give them some time. What may be holding back some things is that I don't think anything the Dems propose is filibuster proof unless they get 8 or 9 more Republicans on their side. It may take Bush getting pummeled into the 20% approval rating before that happens.

    Gordo is one of these Senators that is going to have to stand with the Democrats if he hopes to get reelected and people need to make his office aware of that.

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    There are gutsy ways of switching sides and mealy-mouthed ways. If Smith had said: "I have changed my mind about the war, I regret having supported it in the past, and realize Chuck Hagel was right all along, and am switching my support from McCain to Hagel for President," that would have been bold and dramatic. I would HAVE to respect that. But to say: "I think we should either leave OR send more troops ... well, I'm not sure about the more troops ... No, I have no regrets about my lengthy support of the war ... Yeah, OK, I'm against more troops ... but I'm still for the candidate who wants more troops" - how can ANYONE respect THAT?

  • Creek Freak (unverified)

    STEVE NOVICK SAID: If Smith had said: "I have changed my mind about the war, I regret having supported it in the past, and realize Chuck Hagel was right all along, and am switching my support from McCain to Hagel for President," that would have been bold and dramatic. I would HAVE to respect that.

    So... the only issue that defines a person now is Iraq?

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    Used to be, back during the Civil War, the Republican leadership ridiculed the Smith Dance-style.


    "If we call the tail a leg, how many legs does a dog have?"

    Regardless of what you call Smith and how you characterize his positions, he still ain't a moderate. The ability to play a moderate on TV doesn't count in the reality based community.


    My favorite Bogart scene was the one in Key Largo with Edward G. Robinson:

    Frank McCloud: He knows what he wants. Don't you, Rocco? Johnny Rocco: Sure. James Temple: What's that? Frank McCloud: Tell him, Rocco. Johnny Rocco: Well, I want uh ... Frank McCloud: He wants more, don't you, Rocco? Johnny Rocco: Yeah. That's it. More. That's right! I want more!

  • JayCee (unverified)


    Let me get this right -

    Smith is critical of the war in Iraq and speaks out against it publicly on the Senate floor. Smith opposes the President on the troop surge. Smith is a co-sponsor of the Warner amendment. Smith has consistently opposed the President on cuts to entitlement programs like Medicaid and Medicare.

    But Smith is "mealy-mouthed", not gutsy, and just a Republican toady who blindly follows the President and his party?

    I'm missing something here. Or maybe, just maybe, all the Smith-obsessed bloggers on BO are just blind partisans who won't give a guy any credit even when he is right on the issues? Shouldn't we be be pleased when elected officials vote in concert with our views and the views of most Oregonians?

    From what I have seen, Smith is damned and trashed on this site no matter what position he takes. Frankly, I'll take a politician who changes his or her mind on an important issue when they are wrong rather than a blind, partisan hack any day of the week.

  • Stanley (unverified)

    I'm delighted that at long last there's serious resistance to never-ending Smith bashing.

    Just one of the inanities I've observed here: Where was Smith when his vote could have stopped the AUMF? Answer #1: Where were Kerry, Clinton & any number of others?

    Are such posters claiming the AUMF was within one vote of defeat?

  • BlueNote (unverified)

    As of today, and specifically with respect to the Iraq war, Smith appears to be talking and voting the way I want him to. I celebrate that, even though by the 2008 election I will almost certainly vote for another candidate because I don't vote for Republicans. The fact that Smith seems to have changed his mind on the war puts him in good company (Maria Cantwell, Hillary Clinton (maybe) and John Edwards all come to mind).

    The most frustrating thing about all this is that we have a Democratic leaning state, an "anti-Republican" sentiment in the country, an apparently vulnerable incumbent, and yet from all appearances, Oregon Democrats cannot recruit a high profile opponent to run against Smith. With all due respect to Randall Edwards, Josh Marquis, Ben Westlund and John Frohnmayer, these are not the kind of high profile "feel good" candidates that I was hoping for. In my opinion, the most important factor in the 2008 election will not be Gordon Smith's record. It will be the strength of the Dem candidate, and frankly it appears that the Oregon Dem party is dropping the ball on this one. Hope I am wrong.

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    first of all, no way is "Casablanca" over-rated. it's a beautiful love story, full of great dialogue and cinematic moments that never get old: the singing of the Marseille, "shocked, shocked", "Of all the gin joints...", and the final scene, which, from the moment they arrive at the airport until the screen goes dark, is nothing but brilliance and delight. the "Big Sleep" is a great movie, but "Casablanca" truly is on the best films ever made.

    second, Smith has never opposed the war. he opposes Bush's handling of the war. if he thought an escalation would win the war (not gonna happen; we lost the moment the Congress voted to approve it), he would support. he said so:

    I believe we need to figure out how to fight the war on terror and to do it right. So either we clear and hold and build, or let's go home.

    i believe Smith would have supported a "surge" or 40,000 or 50,000 troops. if the President finds "good intelligence" that Iran has weapons of mass destruction, can we trust him not to be as gullible as he was in 2003? we're not seeing Smith making a courageous decision to force his President to change policy for the benefit of the nation; we're seeing Smith cutting and running as he falls into the minority and faces loss of his seat next year. saying Smith supports the issues Oregonians care about is true only if you care about the minority of Oregonians who are wealthy and care about the environment, jobs, universal health care, living wages and civil rights for all.

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    It's pretty clear that you want Gordon Smith defeated. But do you really think you do your cause justice by interpreting every single position taken by Smith as two-faced political gamesmanship?

    In your own words: let me get this straight. It is impossible to both oppose [INSERT ISSUE HERE]and support a presidential candidate who does not oppose [INSERT ISSUE HERE]. [INSERT ISSUE HERE} is the one and only basis upon which you should judge presidential candidates.

    Is politics really that simple?

  • Eric Berg (unverified)

    “Although Oregonians receive a wage higher than required by federal law, it’s important to raise the minimum wage across the country,” Smith said. “Working families are facing increases in home heating costs and high gas prices, and their wages should reflect these circumstances.”

    • Gordon Smith, in an Oct. 19, 2005 press release from his senate office.


    • Gordon Smith, voting today on the senate floor on a bill to raise the federal minimum wage to $7.25 from the current $5.15 over three years.
  • mbraymen (unverified)

    Todays vote was a cloture motion, i.e. needed to end debate and actually vote on the bill. 54-yea, 43-nay, 3-not voting. Most Republican Senators evidently feel that another tax <s>cut</s> shift is necessary with a minimum wage increase. What is interesting to me is that 12 of the nay-sayers (including Smith) represent states that have minimum wage laws that are higher than the federal minimum wage.

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    For anyone not sure of Smith's priorities, here is an email I received today.

    Update on Fair Minimum Wage Act

    Many thanks to the dozens of you who called Senator Gordon Smith to urge him to vote for H.R. 2 in order to pass a clean version of the Fair Minimum Wage Act. We want to keep you informed of the latest news. We are disappointed that Senator Smith voted against closing debate on the bill, opening it up to amendments. But your voices were heard and your participation remains important.

    On a vote of 54-43, proponents fell six short of the 60 needed to end debate and go to passage of the House-passed measure, which would raise the minimum wage to $7.25 per hour from $5.15 per hour over two years.

    What this means to the passage of a clean bill is unclear. We’ll decide what our next step will be and get back in touch.


    Jeff Kleen

    Public Policy Advocate -- Oregon Food Bank

    <h2>So, what would be his reason for not allowing a vote on this one? Any explanations?<</h2>

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