Thursday, November 02, 2006

Saxton, the Establishment Independent Republican

Since the primaries, it's been clear from the get-go that Ron Saxton has had a very narrow straightaway within which to conduct his campaign machine. Painfully loyal Bush Republicans are the conservative base in the state, and they're necessary to win, but they're not enough by themselves. The path to victory must include "Willamette" Republicans and favorable independents, and either way someone's getting offended--and that's just on his side of the ballot!

In doing his dance down the ideological highway, Saxton's Kerry moment was the declaration that he did not support Measure 48, but would not campaign against it either. Would that be "I didn't vote for it after I didn't oppose it?" Equivocation bred of attempts to stretch one's political appeal beyond its natural boundaries is an ugly thing indeed.

Running a close second as a snapshot displaying the absurdity of situational posturing is Saxton's "I'm not your twin brother's crazy-ass Republican!" ad. There's nothing that says sincere honesty like a guy who's willing to admit he won't follow his own party when he thinks they're wrong. What a champ! But even that modicum of suggested personal integrity is pretty much crapola. Because, really, do you think he's getting his multimillions just from Republican businessmen in Oregon?

Hell no. You know what the Republican Governors' Association thinks of Ron? They love the guy, enough to offer to pay airfare and lodging to get people to come campaign for him. They've made him one of their top 6 targets for receiving money. And what money it is--over $1.5 million dollars' worth according to Harry Esteve's account on October 31 (and the DPO thinks it's $2mil). They even sent a member to drop off the check--none other than a master of the shapeshifting political bent, MA Goobernor Mitt Romney. Apparently not able to get enough of that tasty Pioneer Square foodcourt grub, Romney was on his second trip to the Rose City bearing checks.

Romney's not the only "national Republican" visitor Saxton's entertained. Rudy Guiliani has stumped for him, as has George Shultz of the old Reagan gang. Note that none of the truly big dogs* are showing, even though Dick Cheney and now possibly Bush himself will appear in Idaho this week. But for someone looking to distance himself from the woes and ills of the current leadership, he's been a happy man in a bar to take their money. And what special money it is: at least a fifth of the RGA's revenue base is concentrated in pharmaceutical, energy and tobacco lobby money, to the tune of $8 million.

Jon Perr of Perrspectives blog was having the same reaction I was, and put it together in a sharp comparison between the governor and the would-be at BlueO.
The similarities between Saxton and Romney begin with their desperate attempts to have it all ways on women's reproductive rights. Masquerading as pro-choice friendly, Saxton kowtowed to social conservatives with what the Oregonian's Steve Duin deemed his "his allegiance to the priorities of Oregon Right to Life," including parental notice and a ban on late-term abortions. During his 2002 gubernatorial run in liberal Massachusetts, Romney flip-flopped on the choice issue, reversing his 1994 pro-life stand and declaring "I fully respect and will fully protect a woman's right to choose." Preparing for the '08 Republican primaries, presidential candidate Romney rediscovered that "my political philosophy is pro-life." It's no wonder that Michael Murphy, Romney's version of Karl Rove, pronounced of Mitt, "He's been a pro-life Mormon faking it as a pro-choice friendly."
Anytime you're ready to stand up to your party when they're wrong, Ron--there's some pretty good material out there for you to use. Or is this just another case where you don't want to get specific? What part of your private little binder is this answer in?

*little b, little d--not to be confused with THE Big Dog...