The O's David Sarasohn provides a rebuttal to the O

On Sunday, the Oregonian endorsed Gordon Smith for re-election. (More about that here.)

Also on Sunday, Oregonian columnist David Sarasohn offered a rebuttal of sorts, noting the political jujitsu that Smith is attempting this year. Check it out:

In the second and final Senate debate in Medford last Monday, Smith's first answer was all about Ted Kennedy, Barack Obama and John Kerry. It didn't have much to do with the question, which was about whether Smith would stop running such negative ads, but Smith's answer would have been about Ted Kennedy, Barack Obama and John Kerry if the question had been about his favorite pea recipes.

(In 2004, of course, Smith said that while "It's not John Kerry's fault that he looks French," Kerry "advocates all kinds of additional socialism at home, appeasement abroad, and what that means is weakness for the future." But hey, that's how good buds talk about each other.) ...

Smith's new identity as a Demo fan peaks in his campaign document, "Gordon Smith: A Bipartisan Leader for Oregon." In it, Smith drops the names of no fewer than 30 Democratic senators -- a quorum of the Democratic caucus -- from Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton to Chuck Schumer.

Ron Wyden appears in it 25 times, more often than he might show up in one of Wyden's own mailings.

The document is a tour through the Democratic side of the Senate: "Joined Senator Bingaman to propose legislation ..."; "Teamed with Hillary Clinton to author legislation ..."; "Joined Senator Barbara Boxer to author a bill ..."; "Teamed with Senator Charles Schumer on a proposal. ..."

With all those names, the document reads like Sen. Smith's high school yearbook -- if he'd attended an all-Democratic high school.

At the same time, the document contains the names of only three Republican senators. Apparently Smith spends all of his time in Washington, as Sarah Palin would say, "palling around" with Democrats.

Of course, Sarasohn asks, if Smith is such a great friend of Democrats - why is he getting so much help from the Republicans?

This can make you wonder why, ever since May, the National Republican Senatorial Committee has pumped millions and millions of dollars into Smith's re-election campaign, running commercials warning solemnly that Jeff Merkley can't be trusted with a hot dog. Either Senate Republicans are a remarkably flexible, open-minded and understanding group -- and you can pause a moment to consider that possibility -- or they know something that Smith's 2008 ads aren't telling them.

Such as that during the 2003-2004 session, when George W. Bush was riding high, Smith voted with Senate Republicans 94.2 percent of the time -- even above GOP senators' average reliability level of 91.8 percent. Things loosened up a little in 2005-2006, when things began to come apart, and Smith voted with his party only 87.1 percent of the time.

Since in that Congress the average Republican senator voted with his party 87.2 percent of the time, Smith's numbers did reflect one-tenth of a percentage point of bipartisanship.

Meanwhile, on this topic, there's a new ad from Jeff Merkley setting the record straight:

Read the rest. Discuss.

  • Anonymous (unverified)

    If Hatfield or any of the other old style centrist Republicans were in office, you'd ask "why are Republicans supporting Hatfield if he's really so bipartisan?"

    Republicans are supporting Smith because he's a Republican. Duh. And Smith has been far, far more bipartisan and inclusive than, say, Merkeley, whose partisan mistreatment of minority Republicans in the Oregon House is legendary.

    Democrats claim they want moderate Republicans like Smith. Then, when they show up, Democrats thrash them.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)

    Chris Hedges has a very interesting column on Truthdig - The Idiots Who Rule America - that makes among other points a good case that many of our national problems stem from people in government and commerce coming from a social class culture that recycle the same ideas among themselves instead of going outside the confines of their limited understanding. From his record it looks like Smith fits this social class mold and its limited capacity for substantive thought.

  • Volunteer (unverified)

    Really Anonymous? So in your mind Merkley's efforts to restore proportional representation on house committees and to reverse a whole host of Minnis era rules to restore minority party rights equals legendary mistreatment? Way to do your homework.

  • Pedro (unverified)


    I voted for Mark Hatfield more than once. The reason: The "McGovern-Hatfield Amendment".

    Mark Hatfield actually opposed the war in Vietnam and worked across the aisle with George McGovern and others to oppose it unlike Gordon Smith who made a speech that got a lot of press after the 2006 election, then voted the Bush/Republican party line in support of the Iraq debacle ever since.

    Gordon Smith is so addicted to the trappings of his senate office that he will say anything to get re-elected.


  • (Show?)

    The Gordon Smith Quote of the Week:

    Asked how he counters a Democratic wave, Smith quipped, "I'm a big boy. I can take it. I'll just learn how to surf."

  • Garrett (unverified)

    Gordo is just a tool. Cancel your Oregonian subscriptions and vote Merkley. I did it today. It was invigorating.

  • (Show?)

    Six years ago, Just Out published my letter supporting Gordon Smith [“Support Smith,” Oct. 18, 2002]. I was wrong. A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then, and I would never presume to support that man again. The theme before was that we needed someone on our side in Republican councils. Having him there in the past six years did not result in his being on our side, though.

    Basic Rights Oregon’s Jeana Frazzini rightly points out: “After more than a decade of Sen. Smith, we still have no federal hate crimes law. We still have no federal nondiscrimination law. And Smith supports a federal law that denies committed gay couples critical legal protections, even if they register for a domestic partnership in Oregon.” Even the Human Rights Campaign, which took out a full-page ad for Smith in Just Out six years ago, no longer supports Smith.

    My own conversations with Smith, urging him not to vote for a Federal Marriage Amendment, netted a big fat zero. He is so scared that a court will declare marriage equality to be a constitutional right that he’s willing to besmirch our Constitution with a limitation on the requirements for equal protection and due process. His refusal to recognize equality for gays and lesbians is one of several reasons why I am no longer a Republican.

    On the other side of the coin, Oregon House Speaker Jeff Merkley is by far a better candidate for the U.S. Senate than Smith. Merkley deserves our support not only because of his courageous leadership in support of equality for gays and lesbians in Oregon (nondiscrimination and domestic partnerships granting the same benefits to our families that accrue to other families) but also because of his leadership in forward-looking legislation of all kinds. I am proud to speak out for him, just as he was happy to support me and other gay or lesbian candidates when we ran for the Legislature in 2006.

    Last but not least, the many problems America faces require a senatorial team that works together for a change. Smith has canceled out some 1,700 votes by Sen. Ron Wyden. Everlasting war, financial meltdown and widespread corruption demand this change in the Senate. Replacing Smith with Merkley is one way you can help all Americans.

    Lee Coleman (Letter to the editor, published by Just Out, October 17, 2008)

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