Astorian: Smith is an "inconsequential senator"

The Daily Astorian has endorsed Jeff Merkley has someone with "legislative aptitude" - calling out Gordon Smith's "distinct lack of ambition":

In a nutshell, at the end of 12 years in the Senate, Gordon Smith has not distinguished himself with significant accomplishment. That is ignominious for a man who talked about being Sen. Mark Hatfield's successor. Hatfield came to the Senate as an opponent of the Vietnam War. Smith's eventual opposition to the Iraq War smelled of convenience as it was announced at 10 p.m. on the last night of a Congress.

Smith is a relatively inconsequential senator. That is especially clear when one sees Smith's colleague, Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden writing a tax reform bill as well as a health care bill - two monumental pieces of legislation that will be substantive vehicles in the next Congress.

By contrast, Jeff Merkley has distinguished himself in the Oregon Legislature. He turned in a spectacular session as speaker of the Oregon House. The 2007 session was the legislature's most productive in a decade. This happened because Merkley initiated several reforms to bring the two parties together in the House of Representatives.

The difference is this. Merkley is genetically programmed to be a legislator, as is Ron Wyden. Gordon Smith simply lacks that aptitude. He will never rise to prominence in the Senate because he lacks the kind of intense drive that one sees in Wyden or saw in Dick Neuberger, Wayne Morse and Mark Hatfield. What we've seen from Smith in 12 years is what we would get in a third term.

Smith's lack of legislative ambition can be mystifying. He deeply understands the need to modernize America's freight and passenger rail network. He gets the connection between investment in rail and the export economy. Unlike Sen. John McCain, Smith would invest more in Amtrak. But Smith has kept quiet about his enlightened view on rail. And Sen. Ron Wyden, not Smith, has taken the lead in seeking reactivation of the Amtrak Pioneer, which serves Eastern Oregon.

Gordon Smith is one of the nicest guys you could meet. But his distinct lack of ambition mystifies many Oregonians - most pointedly Republicans who have given to his campaign. Meanwhile, Smith's re-election campaign is distinguished by its devotion to triviality and the low road. Smith's television ads even trashed Merkley for creating a rainy day fund, which was one of the most significant accomplishments of the 2007 legislative session.

Wall Street's meltdown and the financial hemorrhaging that marks the Iraq War typify the gravely serious moment that will confront the next Congress. Oregon must have senators with proven legislative aptitude and a deep desire to make something of their opportunity. That is what Gordon Smith lacks and what Jeff Merkley has.

We urge a vote for Jeff Merkley for U.S. Senate.

  • Jiang (unverified)

    I don't get the oft-leveled criticism of Republicans that they are, well, basically slackers. With the exception of evangelicals and the far right, 3/4 of the voting conservatives elect representatives precisely because of their lack of ambition and inaction. When Ronald Reagan was asleep, he was doing what his core consttuents elected him to do.

    It's real simple. You all are a greedy selfish lot. Some look at their situation and say, "it's OK, could be worse", and others say, "this isn't acceptable". The former call themselves conservatives and the latter liberals. Seriously, does American politics EVER go deeper than that? The former don't want anything done/changed and the latter want everything different.

    It has become a tautalogy that excercising political will is voting your self interest. Wrong. Your business, your affairs, is where you vote your self interest. Politics is about society. We are to a point that we are ready for a high tech Athenian style, non-representative democracy. You're ready for 'bots that vote your interest, directly, without any rep. in between. So, go read Plato's Republic and look at history. The mob don't make good government. We spent 3000 years doing better than, "ugg, gimme mine". The next time you're so self assured about your goddamned "mother's milk" and your party behavior, take a good look at politicos throughout history and be honest about where you fit in. You will see a level of banality that one only finds in a fin de temps society!

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    The Daily Astorian has nailed it. Congratulations, Jeff

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    Jiang, In my opinion most republicans aren't slackers, but a good majority of those that are keeping busy are certainly not doing work that benefits the average working family. Mr Smith went to Washington, and in 12 years has proposed virtually no important or effective legislation, has voted with his party 90% of the time, supported issues that made the rich richer and the poor poorer, and until the election cycle began he supported the war in Iraq. He has been an undistinguished senator, and now with his senate seat on the line, he tries to align himself with the popular Democrats and distance himself from the increasingly unpopular Bush Administration and even his own party's Presidential candidate. And your link to Odor of Pears is really weird. Jeff Merkley will be a far more effective and productive US Senator and will do what's best for Oregon and the US; he'll certainly have his work cut out for him. Gordon Smith will not be missed and I'm certain his passing into vegetable obscurity will be a positive omen for us all.

  • genop (unverified)

    But what will the offshore banking industry do without Gordon's care, concern and support?

  • Robert (unverified)

    The Astorian has nailed it, bringing some history to bear on this race one rarely sees in daily newspapers. Check out the entire piece (the first three paragraphs were cut when posted here...).

    The Astorian draws a parallel between this race and the Neuberger - Cordon race in 1954. Cordon was a Republican two term incumbent thought safe -- until Neuberger took him out. Cordon's record? No one remembers him.

    <h2>The same will be true of Gordon Smith by 2058. No one in Oregon will be able to name anything Smith ever did, or remember anything significant about his career. Unless they study environmental policy and Oregon history and come across some reference to the largest fish kill in U.S. history.</h2>
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