I'll See Your Non-binding Resolution and Raise You a Sternly-Worded Letter

Kelly Steele

48 hours after Gordon Smith and Senate Republicans were taken to the woodshed for blocking a US Senate debate on the future course in Iraq, Oregon's junior senator -- up for re-election in 2008 -- has found yet another position on the war.

Smith's latest: I'm for what I just voted against.

Smith and a small handful of Republicans penned a sternly-worded letter (gasp!) stating that their refusal to even allow debate on a non-binding resolution means...wait for it...they really, really, really want to debate Iraq.

Senate Republicans who earlier this week helped block deliberations on a resolution opposing President Bush's new troop deployments in Iraq changed course yesterday and vowed to use every tactic at their disposal to ensure a full and open debate.

Their PR gimmick is made all the more transparent by the Post's reporting that Republicans rushed their non-binding letter (about the non-binding resolution) straight to the Senate floor and the media, even before getting a copy in the hands of the supposed recipient.

But some Republicans were uneasy about appearing to have stymied the debate. The letter appeared so suddenly that, although it was addressed to Reid, the Democratic leader had not seen his copy before Warner read the text on the Senate floor.
Smith's spokesman on the apparent contradiction: Smith's vote Monday was "an effort to expand, not restrict debate on Iraq."

Voting to ensure there will be no debate is a vote to ... divide by seven, carry the two ... expand debate. Right, got it.

In today's other Smith-symbolic-Iraq-gimmickry news, Gordo joined a small handful of Senators in voting against the nomination of George Casey to be Army Chief of Staff -- and promptly issued a press release. According to the O's politics blog:

Smith noted that Casey had resisted calls to increase troop levels in Iraq early in the war. "Now he comes up for promotion and it's all just double-speak," Smith said.
Replace "promotion" with "re-election" and I'd say the Senator's got a point.

  • lin qiao (unverified)

    Smith's latest: I'm for what I just voted against.

    And then for comparison there was John Kerry: “I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it.”

  • Ann Burnett (unverified)

    I have sent 2 emails to Sen.Smith's office. Politely, just asking for an explanation of Sen.Smith's position on the Iraq resolution. No response. Does his staff even glance at the emails? Is it naive of me to think they might? After all the nat. TV facetime Sen.Smith received following his Senate floor speech, wonder why he's now not available?

  • Chris (unverified)


    Having worked in both a Senate and House office, I can sy that staff are generally pretty good about looking at all correspondence (unless they can recognize it as yet another form letter, in which case they'll just tally it up).

    Unless you're an obnoxious writer who writes too frequently and commands an undue amount of the office's attention, responses are generally the norm. Staff are typically instructed to ensure responses are sent, by postal mail, within two weeks.

    Senate offices are busy places, and God knows Smith's email inbox is getting jammed with messages these days. Give the office a bit of time and let the LD sign off on the letter that staff are working on.

  • Anonymous (unverified)

    Gordon Smith's staffers say the darndest things!

    Why did Smith vote against the minimum wage increase? "Well, he voted against cloture, but he supports an increase." But the vote against cloture killed the bill, right? Well, yes, it did.

    When asked why my tax dollars are supporting a new policy that National Park Service Workers at the Grand Canyon must tell visitors that the Grand Canyon is 6,000 years old - staffers refused to say whether or not the Canyon was older or younger than 6,000 years old. They also would not commit as to whether or not the moon is made of green cheese. Seriously. That is not a joke.

    When informed that the American Bar Association says that Presidential signing statements are illegal - staffers said - well, others disagree. "Others" - you mean the Conservative Crackpot Institute? This is the AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION.

    ABA statement

    When asked why the Senator voted to DENY habaes corpus, staffers said "no he voted FOR it". But in the END he voted TO DENY it, right? Well yes, in the end he did vote to deny it - but that will never really happen, the courts will declare this legislation unconstitutional. WHAAAAAT? The Senator knowingly voted FOR unconstitutional legislation? Why in the hell did he do that???

    Another gem from staffers - "no one has been arrested under the Patriot Act".

  • (Show?)

    Here's a wacky idea -- why not start recording conversations we're all having with Smith's staffers? We could put together a hilarious tape... These are the people that Gordon Smith has hired to serve Oregonians?

    FYI, for the curious, you CAN legally tape a conversation that you're participating in without giving notice to the other party.

    165.540 Obtaining contents of communications. (1) Except as otherwise provided in ORS 133.724 or 133.726 or subsections (2) to (7) of this section, a person may not: (a) Obtain or attempt to obtain the whole or any part of a telecommunication or a radio communication to which the person is not a participant, by means of any device, contrivance, machine or apparatus, whether electrical, mechanical, manual or otherwise, unless consent is given by at least one participant.

    Of course, I'm not a lawyer. This isn't legal advice. Consult your own lawyer.

  • BlueNote (unverified)

    From the teaser headline on this post I thought it was going to be an indictment of Congress as a whole and not just another anti-Smith ramble.

    Unless Congress actually cuts off funding to the Iraq war or rescinds the legislation which enabled the Iraq invasion, Congress is doing nothing but blowing smoke up our collective rear ends. Non-binding resolutions are worthless political pandering by all parties and all politicians. Whether or not Smith chooses to participate in this charade is meaningless to me, but I expected better from the Democrats who control Congress.

  • (Show?)

    Well, Senator Slippery did it again yesterday. He voted against confirming Casey as Army Chief and promptly issued a press release about how he couldn't bring himself to vote for a guy who'd run a failed strategy. "Now he comes up for promotion and it's all just double-speak," Smith said. Well, the Senator should know about that. Of course the vote in favor was 83 to 14 or something, so Smith's vote really didn't matter. But what an opportunity for some great press. It was so good the Goryonion even put a nice box around it. Kind of like one of those ads for learn how to make millions working at home.

  • Anonymous (unverified)

    What Smith is doing is called "catch and release".

    I believe it was pioneered - or at least raised to an art form - by Tom DeLay.

    <h2>DeLay counted the votes. He knew how many he needed to pass. If there were surplus votes (and of course there were, in the GOP Congressional borg), he would allocate those among Republicans in vulnerable districts - so they could appear to oppose the measure and look good at home, but there was never any danger the measure would not pass. Those Congressmen were representing the GOP, not their districts.</h2>

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