Sunday, December 03, 2006

Can't Get Enough of Smith '08 Handicapping?

It seems the campaign junky in many of us is still having trouble weaning off the electoral cycle, since multiple outlets continue to talk about Oregon's Senate race for 2008, a seat currently held by Gordon Smith. The picture did get a little clearer today, actually--Ridenbaugh Press is reporting via Willamette Week via Nick Fish's TV show this morning (whew!) that John Kitzhaber flattened any idea that he was considering a run for the Senate. And that follows yesterday's speculation in the R-Press about Smith's vulnerability and who might challenge him.

Today Russell Sadler takes the mic at Blue Oregon (and simultaneously in the Daily Astorian) to do much the same thing, without benefit of the Kitzhaber revelations. He paints a vivid picture of the post-midterm landscape:

This last election was not a triumph of Democrats over Republicans. This election was a repudiation of what has become the orthodox Republican Party at the federal, state and local levels. It is no longer the Republican Party of Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon or even Ronald Reagan.

Although the Republican partisans mouth the slogans of traditional Republicans -- smaller, less intrusive government, less spending, balanced budget, no new programs, leave people alone -- that is not what the present Republicans deliver. In the election just past, voters saw that Republican rule resulted in bigger government, more programs, more spending, record deficits, a mismanaged war, incompetence, corruption, cronyism and a flirtation with theocracy. Voters rebuked the Republican Party by voting for Democrats. They were not Republicans. It was enough.

Republicans delude themselves if they think these were just narrow defeats under strained circumstances and they can regain their majority on 2008 by mouthing the traditional Republican litany. The brand is seriously damaged. The Republican Party substituted marketing slogans for substance. But even marketers must deliver on their slogans eventually. The Republicans failed to deliver.

The damage to the Republican brand will linger. And it will affect Smith’s reelection chances in 2008.

I quibble with the notion that it was not a triumph of the Democratic Party; the approval ratings for the leadership and their stated agenda suggests that people are generally aware of what they're trying to sell, and are willing to buy. But there's no question that Republicans made it very, very easy to roll over them; as Sadler points out they essentially forfeited every traditional appeal they'd used successfully in the past, and were left with ultra-negativity and fear mongering.

In that climate, taking Smith out of his seat is definitely an achievable scenario. Sadler makes the should-be-0bvious point that Smith is no moderate, and should not only be denied the opportunity to claim the title in 2008, he should be held to account for promises of moderacy that were decidedly unfulfilled. It should be obvious, but the charade still holds for a large number of Oregonians, and the first step in any unseating must begin by breaking them of that particular illusional delusion. The progressive community needs to start now, publicizing the things that Smith has done that run counter to any claim of moderacy, and in fact are partially to blame for the disasters on President Bush's watch. I brought up my concerns earlier in the year in a column for The O; we need to set up a website in that vein and start laying out the facts.