Voting to prolong the war, Gordon Smith hides from Oregonians

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

So, I just called over to Senator Gordon Smith's office. After his vote yesterday to prolong the Iraq War, to fund it without a timeline, I wondered where and when the Senator would be meeting with Oregonians to discuss his vote.

After all, it's the Memorial Day recess - a time when Members of Congress typically come home, travel the state, and meet with constituents.

But when I called his Portland office today, the receptionist said that Smith is not going to be in the state next week. In fact, she said that he has "no public events scheduled until August".


Let's revisit his December 7 speech. In it, Smith said:

I welcome the Iraq Study Group's report, but if we are ultimately going to retreat, I would rather do it sooner than later. ... Now we must find a way to make the best of a terrible situation, at a minimum of loss of life for our brave fighting men and women. So I will be looking for every opportunity to clear, build, hold, and win or how to bring our troops home.

It was an extraordinary speech; one that held promise that he might find a way to bring an end to this war. But with his vote yesterday, Senator Smith failed his promise to "bring our troops home."

And now, he won't even come home himself to answer a few questions from his fellow Oregonians. If there was any doubt that his US Senate career should be over, let it be dispelled now.

Visit to join the campaign to bring him home... permanently.

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    p.s. Senator Wyden's office reports that he'll be doing a pair of town halls in Sherman County and Wasco County - plus some other official visits in Portland, Bend, Medford, Roseburg, and Eugene.

  • nutmeg (unverified)

    Certainly perspective is interesting. Perhaps some other blogger might have chosen to write a head line of "Smith votes to support troops with finds" or "Oregon Democrats fail to vote for bill with emergency funding for counties"

    I guess its all where one wants to fall. The bill with a hard timeline in it was never going to get past Bushes desk and it wasn't veto proof. Rather than political grandstanding from both parties, a meaningful set of bills aimed at the required funding AND getting us out of the mess that we created should be in order.

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    As I said in a comment yesterday, read what he is actually saying. He is talking out of both sides of his mouth:

    So I will be looking for every opportunity to clear, build, hold, and win or how to bring our troops home.

    Or to put it more plainly:

    So I will be looking for every opportunity to support escalation and stay the course OR how to withdraw from Iraq.

    Those are two contradictory directions, but we on the left and many in the media ignore that he is explicitly saying he will simply go with whatever is most politically expeditious, up to and including backing escalation while couching it in language that sounds like he has turned against the occupation of Iraq.

    Hammer him for being a mealy-mouthed fraud who is four square in support of Bush's disaster, while sounding like he is against it (in order to maintain palatability to the Oregon electorate whose majority are against the continuation of this disaster)... but recognize his forked-tongue language and rhetoric for what it is. He can, in GOP party circles point to the first part of the sentence i quote above as being solidly in the GOP/Bush camp, while simultaneously let stand the misimpression that many got form his December stunt on the floor of the Senate that he is breaking ranks with Bush.

    This is why he gave the vote for the bill that he knew would be vetoed (and was) because he already telegraphed (and I am sure had plenty of private conversations with the White House) that he was onboard for escalation and when the votes are crucial. Hence his now voting against timelines, etc. As was said in some other blogs the other day, Hagel and Smith both declared that their vote on the vetoed bill was to "send Bush a message" which is BS. That was to send to their home state voters that they are "sending Bush a message" so as to help secure reelection, nothing more.

    The question really is, how do we make this clear to the low-information voter (particularly Democratic ones) who give Smith a 40-odd approval rating?

    He may bleed GOP votes over the imigration bill, but he is not going to bleed GOP votes over Iraq, where he should be bleeding major Democratic approval (i.e. "moderate" votes).

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    nutmeg, you have drunk the kool-aide. You obviously think that if the suppplimental was again vetoed, that someohow the troops were going to run out of bullets, and fuel, etc.

  • Rural OR voter (unverified)

    Considering that Oregon Democrats were leading the charge to get county payments passed Nutmeg, your headline choice for the emergency funding for rural counties is a little off. Perhaps you forgot it was the Republicans that failed to even address the issue last session when they led the do nothing congress. Or perhaps you forgot it was the President who threatened to veto the payments because apparently it is "pork". Your headline should have read, "President and Republican Congress don't care about rural communities."

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    Nutmeg, you were under the impression that this some sort of exercise in passionless and unbiased journalism?

    Try again.

    But getting to the point: Gordon Smith told us his "position". That it's time to bring the troops home now, and that this war is "absurd" and "possibly criminal." If he really believes that, he would have joined Oregon Democrats in voting to stop the funding.

    Better yet, he would have been a leader - perhaps THE leader - in going to the Bush Administration and negotiating out a compromise.

    This is his president. And he's uniquely positioned himself to deal with this issue. And he's failing. Failing so miserably that it calls into question his motives.

  • Miles (unverified)

    You obviously think that if the suppplemental was again vetoed, that someohow the troops were going to run out of bullets, and fuel, etc.

    Lestatdelc -- I'm confused by your position. On the one hand you're advocating that Democrats only pass a supplemental that has timelines for withdrawal. On the other hand, you're saying that the supplemental doesn't really do anything. . . funding for the troops won't be cut off if it doesn't pass.

    If there is enough funding for the troops regardless of whether the supplemental passes or not, why does it matter whether the supplemental contains timelines? The only power Congress has over the military is to restrict funding; they cannot make strategic decisions. If adequate funding already exists in the budget, then the timelines placed on the supplemental funding will have no impact. The President can just ignore them.

    I don't think you can have it both ways. Either the supplemental is needed to fund the troops (and hence timelines would be relevant), or it's not (and hence timelines are not relevant). If it's the former, I just don't understand what we accomplish by sending the same bill for Bush to veto over and over. As I and others have argued, such an action risks eroding public support for the Democratic position.

  • JohnH (unverified)

    I've said it once and I'll say it again. Gordon Smith is our aloof, out of touch, absentee Senator. He would prefer to spend weekends in the Green Zone than in Oregon.

    The only way to get him out of his comfortable bubble is to label the behavior and make people notice that he almost never available to the public. Once forced into the public limelight, people can start to get a first hand sense of who he really is. At this point, he is so unaccustomed to talking to real people that the probablility of a Macaca moment is pretty good.

    Now contrast the lethargic and lazy Smith with a young, dynamic, eager-to-serve Democrat, and you've got a real contest!

  • Nick Kahl (unverified)

    First, Gordon Smith is one of the reasons the original funding bill wasn’t “veto proof.” It isn’t a foregone conclusion that a veto cannot be overridden, all it takes is a few so-called moderate Republicans, like Sen. Smith, to stand up to the President in the halls of Congress in the same manner that they oppose him when nothing is on the line.

    Second, Sen. Smith’s opposition to the war rang false even before this vote was cast.

    The gist of Sen. Smith argument can be summed up in a few quotes (from a now legendary speech on the floor of the Senate):

    “[Pres. Bush] is not guilty of perfidy, but I do believe he is guilty of believing bad intelligence and giving us the same.”

    And then at another moment in the same speech:

    “[W]e are paying the price to sit on a mountain that is little more than a volcano of ingratitude.”

    These two quotes are instructive. To Sen. Smith’s thinking we wouldn’t be in Iraq if it weren’t for bad intelligence, for which apparently no one is responsible. And blame for the current failure in Iraq rests squarely with the ungrateful Iraqis. To be fair Sen. Smith does talk about his frustration with how the war is being waged, but since he is disinclined to blame the executive nor the military leaders on the ground directly it’s hard to see where else Sen. Smith lays the blame.

    It may be the Sen. Smith believes in the mission; and like any good imperialist, Sen. Smith might be truly dumbfounded by the savages’ ingratitude for our civilizing mission. Or it may just be easier to blame all of these problems on the fact that we didn’t understand “fully the nature of the ancient hatreds of the Middle East” rather than hold our leaders to account for their mismanagement. Either way what comes to the fore is at best a stereotypical image of the region that should have long since passed from our collective memory, and at a worst that Sen. Smith’s reasoning belies a bigotry hidden below a façade of moderation and tolerance. Whatever the case we are responsible for the horrible situation in Iraq and the destabilization of the entire region, and so long as we have leader’s like Sen. Smith who are unwilling to own responsibility nor hold our Executive to account the opportunity for a peaceful and prosperous future is foreclosed to all of us.

  • LiberalIncarnate (unverified)

    We can argue in circles about "funding the troops" and the political ramifications of this. This is certainly what the neo-Cons would love us to be framing it as, wouldn't they? That is certainly what some bloggers on here have fallen for.

    This bill was NOT about funding the troops. It WAS about funding the continued occupation with a blank check. Simple. Let's not mix things up. Democrats should have put forth a bill that funded ONLY the safe withdrawl of the troops and nothing else. Period. After it was vetoed, then they should have said, "The President does not support the troops." Or, "The President is murdering the troops." No one has the balls to say this. They then should have passed the exact same bill over and over again.

    For those that authorized this bill, they now carry the burden of every death that takes place from this point on. For every American that supports those that voted for these, or even voted for Bush in 2004, they have blood on their hands. You can justify it any other way you wish, but in the end, you have voted to put our troops in continued harms way rather than safely bring them home.

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    It should be said that the county payments were in the economic package part of the bill, which passed overwhelmingly. Our hard hit counties will get a one-time payout. Hopefully they will have the good sense to bank half of it for next year, while they radically restructure their budgets.

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    Gordon Smith voted to keep the U.S. in a box. Republicans cannot leave Iraq without total humiliation. Anti-American hatred is at an all time high. New terrorists are inspired around the world. There will be no victory in Iraq. The Iraq war has made the U.S. more vulnerable and much less safe.

    Republican policy equals an armada of our ships parked off the coast of Iran.

    What has Gordon Smith actually done for Oregon? 90% of the time he votes and supports the Bush administation. Since he's been our senator, what has he actually done for Oregon?

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    You didn't ask Smith's office the right question. You should have asked, "When is Senator Smith doing a fundraiser in the state so I can contribute to his campaign?"

    The answer is on June 16th you can meet the Senator and his special guest, Mitch McConnell for a summer river cruise on the Willamette. (embark at 110 SE Caruthers Street) The boat ride will only cost you $1,000, but if you want to have a picture of Smitty and you to hang in your office it will cost $2,300.

    Must be an impressive photographer.

    See, he is visiting the state and bringing his friends (if you give him $1,000 you are his friend)on a wet water conservation tour to show his enviromental creed

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    The boat boards at 5:30 so be sharp!

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    Miles, it is not confusing at all (except to you perhaps). The timeline for withdrawal would (and did in the vetoed bill) include funding for orderly phased withdrawal. Even the Pentagon acknowledges that they have funds to continue operations until the end of July without passage of the emergency supplemental. In short, there was no excuse for passing this blank-check toothless bill.

  • Anon (unverified)

    Smith is in the "Green Zone" alright - the kind with 18 holes and a caddy, and he brought his putter.

  • Miles (unverified)

    Even the Pentagon acknowledges that they have funds to continue operations until the end of July without passage of the emergency supplemental. In short, there was no excuse for passing this blank-check toothless bill.

    So you would have just waited two months and then passed the toothless bill?

    Democrats had two options. Continue sending the same bill to the President for a veto until funding really did run out -- at which point they would be accused of abandoning the troops in a war zone and risk losing their majority in 2008. Or pass something the President will sign while they continue to build the case for withdrawal.

    Given those two options, the Democrats made the right choice. But what the hell, let's shoot them anyway.

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    No Miles, I would have sent basically the same bill to Bush that he vetoed. Here is the money to fund operations, which must move towards phased withdrawal by 2009. If he wants to tear up the check and deliberately put troops in a position of not being supplied while simultaneously keeping them in a theater of combat, that would be his chose which should bring down the political and legal wrath for doing so.

    De-funding Somalia did not kill our troops and didn't cost the GOP Congress politically did it?

    Yet somehow doing the same when even more of the electorate oppose the Iraq debacle will somehow destroy Democrats politically?

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    ...that would be his chose which should bring down the political and legal wrath for doing so.


    ...that would be his choice which should bring down the political and legal wrath for doing so.
  • ellie (unverified)


    Well, that sounds like a great opportunity for Democratic candidates.

  • nochickenhawk (unverified)

    Smith is a double-shuffle artist who takes his cues from Rove. It is a shame that our terrific state has such a weak democrat party leadership. Oh well, it appears to be reflective of the national democrat leadership given the results of the events of the last 24 plus hours. Rove and his surrogate Smith I'm afraid continue to have the majority of Oregonians (and that worthless Oregonian one must add) completely bullshitted!!.

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    In case you hadn't heard by e-mail:

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    Are we sure Smith isn't hiding in The White House? Maybe he's hiding behind George and Dick.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)

    I've said it once and I'll say it again. Gordon Smith is our aloof, out of touch, absentee Senator. He would prefer to spend weekends in the Green Zone than in Oregon.

    I don't know about the second sentence, but the first is key to understanding Smith. He was raised in a privileged society and appears to have the usual deficits that go with that experience with one of the primary shortcomings being an inability to understand others outside the gated communities of their minds.

    Smith managed to be very humane and compassionate for which he deserves credit when he sponsored the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act to help prevent suicides among young people in college. But motivation for that act came only from his personal involvement in this issue. Young people have been committing suicide for generations but neither Smith nor any other politician seems to have been interested in doing anything about it for a very long time. If some ordinary citizen from Oregon who was not a big campaign donor had asked Smith to do something similar based on that person's experience, it would be a good bet Smith wouldn't have given this person more than a friendly smile and insincere comments about feeling that person's pain and looking into it.

    We keep reading reports about young men and women returning from Iraq with post traumatic stress disorders that lead to suicide in many cases. Has Smith made a special effort to sponsor a similar version of the Garrett Smith Act to help these vets? I doubt it, and believe the reason is that no one in his circle of friends has a son or daughter in that predicament to help him understand and appreciate the enormity of these vets' agony. Vets, we might note, that fall through the crevasses of the current military and VA systems.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)

    Counterpunch has an interesting article by Jonathan Feldman on Congress and the Iraq War Vote. He makes very interesting points that go beyond contemporary aspects.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)

    Ann Wright, former colonel and diplomat, makes a good case that the Iraq vote had a lot to do with oil.

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    Of course Gordon is not willing to present himself to Oregonians right now. The memory of his flipflopping is way too fresh. Just remember this slogan: Gordon Smith is not fit to sit!

    Here's a letter I wrote to The Oregonian which, needless to say, it won't publish:

    Once again Gordon Smith has done the flip flop on our occupation of Iraq. On December 7th last year he said "I ... am at the end of my rope when it comes to supporting a policy that has our soldiers patrolling the same streets in the same way, being blown up by the same bombs day after day. That is absurd. It may even be criminal. I cannot support that anymore."

    Despite this, he voted last week again to continue funding the Iraq War, even though it contains only toothless benchmarks the president can waive at any time and is Smith's endorsement of what Smith himself labled as possibly criminal policy. But last week's vote was not the first flip flop; earlier in May, he voted against an amendment that would have removed our troops from harms way in Iraq.

    The moral of this story is that you cannot trust Gordon Smith's word. Either the administration's policy in Iraq is devoid of moral principle or it is not. Gordon says yes to both propositions. He's not fit to sit in the Senate of the United States.

  • Joe Anybody (unverified)

    A Senator you can barley talk to and basically never see (That is without an pre-approved appointment)

    Double Speak - Hiding From Constituent's - Fund-N-Run - and flip-flop Spin!

    YouTube clip from out on-the-street about "Sen Smiths private property office" and... The 3 arrested at the front door to Smiths office.

    Link below is more of clips of numerous people at different recent times, getting arrested at his Portland Office, for wanting to speak with the Senator about "Non-Funding" the war since Senator Smith had said (Iraq War) was wrong, those arrested wanted to know why would he fund it if it was wrong? .... senators Smiths answer..... "Arrest them , I am on private property" <sorry low="" quality="" audio="">


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